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. Be sure to check out Bernardo’s new DVD instructional series on the Faria Guard, The Z Guard, escapes and pressure passing.
After many years doing BJJ, I have realized some very important things that we should avoid in training. To reach our full potential we need to correct these mistakes.
Here is the list of my 5 most important things:
1 – Avoid having a big EGO:
I believe the ego in certain level is important for the learning process, but it should be a very small ego. One of the biggest mistakes I see students making is not wanting to tap in training, they want to win every roll. This can slow down your learning process a lot. The training is the place where we should try everything without that fear of tapping. In the same time I believe that it is important that we have some ego, just to make sure we also don’t get used tapping and losing every roll in training. But losing or winning should not be the goal, the goal should be always learning. So I believe that misuse of Ego is one of the biggest problems with BJJ Athletes.
2 – Avoid having a closed mind for learning new techniques:
Many times we see students who train BJJ for a long time, and they think they already know everything and don’t need to learn anymore. A truth in BJJ is the fact that it is a sport that keeps us very humble, because we never know everything. We can always learn a new technique or detail from any person, higher or lower belt than us. So, in my opinion we should always have an open mind for learning anything, anytime, from anyone. Maybe we will not even use that technique, but at least you know what is this and if somebody tries it against you, then you know what is going on in that situation and you might know how to defend it. So always keep an open mind.
3 – Avoid stopping the training when your tired:
If you take BJJ serious and you really want to improve your technique and your level, you should always keep in mind that when you are tired this is the time you are going to learn. When you are fresh, you have full strength and you might not do the technique 100% correct, because you have your full strength to help you out, but when you are tired you dont have the strength anymore, so now is the time to see if your technique really works or not. It’s the same thing when you train with someone much stronger than you. Especially for competitors, my advice is to do 2 or 3 more rolls once you feel you are exhausted. I can count on my hands how many times in my life I took a round off. I believe that the best way to improve and test my technique would be working them, while I’m tired, and the only way to get tired is training a lot without rest. So definitely, we should avoid stopping the training when we are tired.
4 – Avoid training only on top or only on bottom:
We see this all the time, “That guy is crazy tough but he only plays on top.” or the opposite “That guy has an awesome guard but he doesn’t know how to pass the guard.” This normally happens, because they only play top or bottom. Often when they have a good guard, in training, they pull fast and end up not playing too much on top. Or they never pull guard in training and end up playing much more on top than on bottom. So, I believe that we should always keep a balance in training. What I use to do to learn and put myself in tough situations is; When I know that my training partner’s best thing is passing the guard, I normally pull guard, to force myself to go against his best thing. When I know that my training partner has a very good guard, I normally wait for him to pull and then I can play my passing game. This is the opposite of what students do normally. Everyone likes to go against their training partner’s worst game, forgetting that it is just training and the goal is to maximize our learning, instead of just trying to win the roll.
5 – Avoid the “tough guys” on the mat:
When your training do you u call the toughest guys to train with? Or do you normally call those that you know you are going to “win” the roll? If you just train with those that you know you are going to win, you are slowing down your learning. If you ever compete or train with someone tougher than you, it’s going to be a tough time for you, just because the fact that you are not used to it. I believe that we should focus more on the tough guys than on the easy guys. It is very important to train with everyone, the tough guys will make us become tough, they will get the most out of us. Also, it will be great for us to train with the “easy” guys, because on them we can try the new techniques we are preparing to add to our “A-Game”, getting more confidence on those new techniques. When I was younger for example, I used to train only with the tough guys all year long, but I don’t advice doing this to everyone. If you train super hard 12 months per year after around 25 years old, you might get hurt easily. Now what I’m doing is, when I’m training for tournaments, I try to train only with the toughest guys, but when I’m “off season” I try to train with many lower belts and avoid using my A-Game against them, to make sure I work a lot on the new techniques and areas that I don’t feel that comfortable. Make sure you find the right balance, but always focus on training as much as possible with people tougher than you.
In conclusion, mistakes you are making in training are mostly related to the ego. I love BJJ because it forces us to be humble. The mat is where everyone is the same regardless of our lives off the mat. Some days we tap our training partners and some days we are the one that taps. We never know everything and always have something to learn. If you are on the BJJ mat it is because you love BJJ. There is no reason to ever think you are to good to tap to someone else.
On this video below I talk about my mental preparation for tournaments and there you guys can see that I believe that even the mental preparation for tournament is related with our ego.
I hope you guys enjoy it