TRAINING CONCEPTS FOR BJJ/MMA/SUBMISSION GRAPPLING
“Meeting and dismissing that inner-voice, the one that calls for retreat, calls for rest, calls for acquiescence to physical exhaustion, then proceeding forward, pushing on and achieving more than what you thought you could endure, hardens your ability to survive.” –Tim Sledd
Warriors, athletes, and competitors are looking for an edge. Some stay tuned to the latest diets, exercise routines, and literature. Some choose to buy the latest equipment, gear, or instructionals on their relevant field. But throughout history, a key characteristic of successful warriors, athletes, and competitors has been the desire to survive.
By “survival,” I mean the ability to meet great obstacles head on, overcome them, and continue forward with the mission. Perhaps the obstacle is pain, limited finances, or fewer troops, but to a real warrior, there is nothing that will get in the way of the mission. A small percentage of people exemplify this character trait, but all of us are born with this trait and can condition ourselves to endure obstacles so as to meet our goals.
“Fighting is actually the best thing a man can have in his soul.”
(2008 Small Axe Hoosier Open Competitors with their Hardware)
Small Axe JiuJitsu is all about the “positive vibrations!” I try to keep classes light-hearted and make sure that students are encouraged to have fun, recognize their strengths, address their weaknesses, and encourage others. I begin by saying that because the topic of discussion here is kind of a downer BUT if one is aware of training ruts and if one realizes that losses are opportunities, then one can minimize suffering and maximize the positive. I have gone through many training ruts, varying in length, but to date each has ended.
If you are not from the midwest, then the term ‘rut’ might be foreign to you. A rut is a low, trench-like path that out is difficult to escape. Often, when one is traveling in a rut, it feels as though the rut is controlling the direction of your progress. (e.g. if a 4-wheeler is going through a field and his tire gets stuck in a rut caused by a tractor, it can make steering difficult.)
Training Ruts are periods of perceived stagnation in your progression or development in jiujitsu. They are often indicated by inability to perform basic techniques with the same ease on lesser classmates, decreased successfullness of defenses, mental blocks, frustration, and physical exhaustion.
Causes of training ruts:
My guess to the causes of training ruts is based solely on my experiences with them. Here is my list of causes of training ruts:
1. Your strategy has become apparent. (Your classmates are picking up on your cues of movement, your tells of attack, and therefore they are employing alternative strategies)
2. You have drank the ‘flashy koolaid‘! (Someone or something has convinced you that there is an easy way to do this… as such you are trying an ‘easy way’ and it isn’t working)
3. You are over-training. (Jiujitsu training occurs in class, after class, and every moment of the day you think about it. Make sure to take some healthy time away… you have the rest of your life to have fun with this)
4. Your classmates have hit the curve. (I have come to realize that there are interesting curves in jiujitsu knowledge… they tend to indicate readiness for belt promotion. Take for example a student on whom you could hit a basic hip switch method to mount time in and time out, but now anytime you make any attempt to mount you are re-guarded, or worse reversed… that white belt is hitting the curve of linking the techniques to their practical purpose. Or, let’s say you training with a blue belt who has always been good at armbar from the guard, but this time he sweeps you with arm-inside sweep and immediately is setting up s-mount armlocks… that blue belt is chaining moves together in productive sequences. That does not happen overnight, but once the switch is flipped, the upward curve is sharp.
List of ways to get out of the rut:
1. Identify why you are in a rut. The reason leads to the solution
2. If it is mental or physical exhaustion… take a very brief break. Enjoy a night away from class.
3. If is because you are drinking magic potion ‘easy-way’ crap… quit! Focus on the fundamentals… they work.
4. If it is because your strategy has become apparent… determine how they are defending or countering and prepare your attack to their defense or counter… work to stay steps ahead of them.
5. If it is because your classmates have hit a curve… be patient if you are training right your curve will come. Refocus your attention on the core basics and making sure you are sharp there too.
I hope these suggestions help with dealing with training ruts.
Dealing with losing!
I have only heard of one guy who claims to have never lost a competitive BJJ match… Rickson Gracie. Putting him aside, all others have lost. It comes with the nature of the game. There are so many variables that any confluence of a few in the direction opposite of your favor is likely to result in a loss. Here is the vid of my latest loss (as of 6/14/08):
One of the keys regarding losing is making the experience positive. What happened? Were you out-classed, surprised, caught dumb in the moment, under conditioned, or did you lose due to a bad ref call? Regardless of the answer to these, there are lessons to be learned that will better your training and performance in the future. Use a loss to do the following:
1. Evaluate your strategy. (Are you over doing it or under doing it. A flying gogoplata might theoretically be cool, but I have yet to see it as a viable strategy)
2. Identify your weaknesses. Nothing is better than failing to pass the guard to tell you that part of your game needs work. Likewise, if you got caught twice in an armbar from the guard evaluate why and address that mistake.
3. Use a loss as a call to train harder and smarter for the next tournament. If you did no win, the event was ‘no joke’.
4. Make sure competition is fun for you. If competition ceases to be fun… stop. Remember that for the most of us, BJJ is a hobby, despite the passion we feel for it. Wanting to excel is admirable, but few who despise what they are doing ever excel.
Training Ruts and Losing are natural parts of training in Brazilian JiuJitsu. Patience and relaxation are integral parts of a successfulbjj strategy, use losses and ruts as opportunities to practice patience. Feel free to ask me how to work through your unique and individual situation. That is what I am your instructor/coach for… to help make you the best you can be.