Tip of the Week: Learning Jiu-Jitsu

Alright, this is my first real post to the world. *clears throat excessively*

Now that enough time has passed and suspense has reached its full potential I have something to share with you.

The daily grind of life in general can be difficult as is; bills, work, relationships, errands, and school if you’re still attending. Now adding on at least another hour of Jiu-Jitsu daily can seem farfetched. If you’re a competitor then this article may not be for you. But, if you’re just starting out or just an average student then this may help in explaining a few misunderstood lessons.

For the everyday student or even for a student wishing to excel up to the competition level, training is prudent. Yes, this has been told to every student many, many times. But, that is it right there. Some of the greatest advice that has been given can be that simple. If you’re thinking about Jiu-Jitsu and thinking about not going to Jiu-Jitsu, then it is time to pack your bag and your Gi. Don’t miss class, because the feeling of regret and guilt will be prevalent in the passing hours of the class.

There is a constant struggle in learning techniques and developing one’s own game. First, is simple remembering the techniques. Where do each hand goes? Where the hips are positioned? What to control? Body Position? Leverage? Second, is completing the move and then being able to use it successfully in a sparring situation. It can seem that the exact position you want never comes to fruition. Now how can these problems be solved?

1: Buy a composition notebook!

I cannot stress this enough. This has been key to my ability to retain and absorb the information that is being taught. If you went to school, you would buy a notebook to take notes, so that you could remember lessons and information that would help you excel when the test arrived. Why not do the same for Jiu-Jitsu? Composition notebooks are available at almost any grocery store or super market. If you really want an array of choices, then go to an office supply store. At the end of the lesson if time is available, take a seat on the mat and open up a notebook. Write down the details of the class that was just attended, the details of each move, and save comments for the end. This process will help sink the technique into your mind and allow you retain the technique a lot more effectively. Finalize the review of the lesson with personal comments about how the class went. For instances, at the end of the page write a question or comment about the technique. I have noted things such as: Don’t try to use power in this move! Why can’t I achieve the underhook? Why can’t I shrimp away from this position? And, DON’T GET AMERICANA’D ANYMORE! Just sit back and take a few minutes to reflect on all that was taught. If you don’t have time to stay after or another class is already getting started. Go to the lobby, front desk area or once you get home. But ALWAYS reflect on what was taught in that day’s lesson.

2: DRILL, DRILL, DRILL, DRILL, DRILL, DRILL, DRILL, DRILL, AND KEEP DRILLING

Now this is a fundamental that has been preached to an exhaustible amount. Why? BECAUSE IT WORKS! Now, I’m not talking about when you drill that days move during class. But, that still remains just as important. What is even more important is training the same technique even more on later dates. It takes nearly 10,000 repetitions of a physical activity to develop muscle memory. Only practicing a move 10-20 times in class once will not be a viable course of action. If you can stay after class with any training partner (White-Black belts), do so. Don’t be intimidated, everyone wants you to exceed as much as they want themselves to exceed. Take a small corner of the mat and now repeat a move at least 50 times. By the time you completed that 50th repetition if will have been better than your 30th repetition. It is understandable if staying after an extra 30 minutes isn’t always conceivable. So instead, during times where you are sparring, communicate to your opponent that you wish to drill a certain move a few times. This will be a slower process to improving your technique but it will still prove to escalate your ability.

3: Train with Purpose

Always take a technique or position you want to improve with you before the start class. For example, you wish to improve your defensive game and submission escapes from dominant positions. (I know this will sound crazy but stick with me) Alright, then purposely give your back up to your opponent over and over. If you get submitted, that is completely fine. This is practice and there is nothing to prove in practice. Tap and restart. Then give up your back again or mount, the more you do this the more comfortable you will feel in this position.

4: Fundamentals First

Alright, this applies to all belts and all ages. Focus on the fundamentals of Jiu-Jitsu first, try your hardest to develop muscle memory and expertise of the fundamentals before going on to advanced techniques. If you don’t have fundamentals then you don’t have anything. Though I am not a white belt, I still go to the beginner’s fundamentals class every day. Why? Because I will continue you to go till I have mastered those techniques. This may never come. Though everyday progress is may, fundamentals can be a lot of people’s advanced game.

5: Watch and Learn

This one is a big one that many people ignore. Once again this becomes a little analytical. If you keep losing to someone in your gym; sit back one round and just watch them. Look to see exactly what they are doing and why it works on you. Watch the world champions and watch your own black belts. These people have put the time in to earn that prestigious rank. They will know a thing or two about Jiu-Jitsu. Listen to others talk about philosophies of Jiu-Jitsu. This will broaden the spectrum of which you see the Jiu-Jitsu world in and expand your mind.

In closing, never give up on yourself. There will be bad days, there will be those days where nothing works and everyone seems to beat you. But, then there will be those days where you feel that you could take on anyone in the world and win. Those are the days we live for in Jiu-Jitsu. In the words of the great Kurt Osiander, “GO TRAIN!”

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