Guest post by Daniel Vaughan UCLA undergraduate, judo brown belt under Mike Verdugo and BJJ GF Team black belt under Master Julio Cesar Pereira. Daniel is an instructor at M3Fight Academy.
Improving your BJJ game isn’t always as easy as just showing up to class and it’s something we all want to do. Sometimes we need a game plan to expand our game in order to avoid the dreaded “plateau”. What are some ways to exponentially increase our gains so we can beat the plateau and move ahead of others?
Tip #1. Drilling
It may seem obvious to everyone, but it’s like eating your vegetables. You know it’s good for you, but do you do it like you should? Drilling is one of the reasons why people become top guys such as: Marcelo Garcia, Rodolfo Vieira, Marcus Buchecha, Andre Galvo, the Mendes brothers Keenan Cornelius, and the greats of history such as Royce Gracie. Anyone one of the top guys, regardless of the sport, will tell you that drilling is a key component to improving your game right now. It’s also something that can be easily implemented After class or during open mat time find a partner or even a drilling dummy with a gi and begin drilling reps. Pick a move you’re not particularly great at, and then start drilling. Getting into the 100’s is when you know you’ve gotten serious about your game.
“This is what drilling feels like to most of us”
Tip #2. Goal Setting
What is goal setting? “Goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable and time-targeted objectives.” Sounds simple right? For those of us practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, most of us will probably say no. How many times in class or during open mat do you say in your mind, today I’m going to pass the guard with the X pass 10 times today before I do anything else. Have you ever thought, my mount control is lacking, I’m going to attain mount and hold it for 1 minute of every roll for the next week. This works most effectively against less experienced and less skilled opponents. Instead of dominating them, try the goal setting approach. Sounds simple enough but for most, this is not something people do. Many revert to the “safe zone” which we usually call our “A game” so we don’t suffer the humiliation of losing points or getting submitted. A lot of us talk about no ego, but is that really the case for you?
“Mitsuyo Maeda definitely took this approach by going beyond just Judo”
Tip #3. Cross Training
Another obvious tip right? Again, much like tip #1, how often do you really go out of your way to cross train with new training partners at other academies? Training with the same partners can stifle your game, limiting you in many ways. Everyone begins to learn each other’s games and therefore it’s the equivalent of playing a video game countless times and knowing every outcome, there are no surprises or new challenges. Get into the BJJ community, meet new people, cross train and meet those new challenges. Going to a new academy earns you new experiences that can help you expand your game immediately. It also helps show what parts of your game works, what needs work, and what does not work. Get out there and start gym hopping!
“Whenever you travel, pack a gi and check out foreign schools. BJJ training is a worldwide language spoken between our community”
#4. Use What you Learn
Whenever you take a class and learn a technique or two and drill it, how often do use it during your sparring that day right after learning it? The fastest way you are going to get better at that move is to use it. If you learn a Kimura from closed guard and it was your first time, get your partner into your closed guard and attempt to attack with that move. If you catch the move, great! If not, you then have more intelligent questions for your BJJ instructor. You will no longer have the, “coach I can’t finish my moves.” You’ll notice things such as how your opponent is preventing you from getting into the position or preventing you from setting up your attack. In turn your instructor will be able to give you tips and advance your game. Remember, learn your moves then use them, it’s the fastest way you can advance that move.
“Use what you learn or your BJJ game will sit idly on the sidelines while your teammates and opponents leave you in the dust”
#5. Study Outside of Class
Training and coming to class is the first step to getting better in your BJJ game. In order to advance your BJJ game, you will need to study outside of your regular training sessions. There are tons of resources for you such as: youtube, facebook, books, articles, dvds, and much much more. If you have a certain position you’re working on, or just learned a technique, look it up and do some research and see if you can pick up any variations or details you may have missed or just a different way to finish and set up all together since it will be taught by a different instructor. When we have the same person teaching us day in and day out, sometimes you start to lose focus and pay less attention to detail. Reinvigorate your though process by checking out these resources and learn different styles.
Always remember, there are tons of ways to advance your game. If you implement these 5 tips, your game will advance exponentially. These aren’t the only tips, get out there and try to pick up some tips of your own!