Guest post by 5x BJJ World Champion Bernardo Faria, who is known for his half guard. He achieved a phenomenal double gold medals in the BJJ Mundials in 2015.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is probably like any other thing in life. If we focus on it, putting all our effort to get better, we will always get better. But sometimes there are easier ways to improve than just training, going to the school and doing what everyone does.
If you do what everyone does, you might end up being an average athlete, like everyone, but if you try to do things different, with more focus, you might end up learning faster, doing better, and getting the results you want.
Have you stopped to think how many BJJ techniques there are out there? I dont even know, there are a lot, its impossible to count, probably thousands. Is it possible to learn or see all of them? Probably not right. Even today after 16 years of BJJ, I keep learning and seeing new positions almost everyday. This is what makes BJJ fun, you never stop learning, there are always new techniques that can be useful for you.
I believe that if we focus on some subjects or type of games, we will always have a bigger chance to improve, than, if we just try to learn and practice everything. This is what I have done my entire career, I was never the most talented, but I always believed that If I focused on certain style, I could become better in this style than the others.
If you try to play Spider Guard, Half-Guard, Butterfly, Closed Guard, all in the same time, you might end up not getting GREAT in any of them. If you focus all your energy on just one of them, you might end up being great on that style.
When I’m competing for example, I focus on bringing my opponent to my game from the start of the match. The reason is I will have an advantage over my opponent, because I have spent much more time in my game, than my opponent has learned to defend my style. It’s all about how long each of us has spent there.
A good example about this is my over-under pass, I have studied it so much that I have more than 40 different variations for this style of passing; you can find it here on my “The Pressure Passing Encyclopedia . When I get to the over-under pass, I always believe that I’m going to pass. I have spent probably more than 10.000 hours in my whole life in the over-under pass and I know my opponent has not.
My advice to you is to find certain styles that you like, and focus on it. For example, if you like to play closed guard, try to find 3 different sweeps from closed guard that works well for you, 3 different ways to pull to the closed guard, 3 different ways to submit from there, 3 different ways to not let your opponent open your guard and so on. You should try to do the same thing with your passing, with your submissions and all your game.
Here are 5 tips to improve Faster
1 – Focus on one type of game: If you feel confortable doing butterfly guard, focus on it, dont start doing half-guard next week, and spider guard the other week.
2 – Study as many techniques, variations and details in the style that you picked: Try to specialize in that style, if you understand every detail that happens in that positions it will be much harder for your opponent to beat you in that style.
3 – Watch the athletes who play your game: Get Instructional videos from sites such as bjjfanatics.com or watch competition videos on youtube. Watching the top athletes on your style will improve your own BJJ.
4- Stay the course: If you are having problems with your game. It is very common, we train always with the same training partners, they catch our game and our positions stop working. If it happens with you, dont stop doing your game plan just because your training partner now know how to stop it. Try to overcome it, try to figure some new detail that he doesnt know. Thats the best way to get good in bjj, when you try to figure that little details that is going to make your position work against the guy who knows how to stop it.
5 – Last but not least: Keep open minded to learn everything. Learning doesnt mean that we have to use it. But it means that if someone tries it against us we know what is going on and we will know how to defend it. Never close your mind for learning, just because you are focused on other styles. In my own experiences training at Marcelo’s school, sometimes he teaches something that might not fit very well in my game but I always try to learn it and adapt it to my style.
I hope you guys have enjoyed the article and remember, more important than learning or getting better in BJJ, is having fun on the mat.