Reaching Your Full Potential as a BJJ Student

Reaching Your Full Potential as a BJJ Student

The most important lesson for a white belt to learn is know when to relax and when to resist. On one hand, too much resistance will prevent your partner from completing the move. On the other, too little resistance cannot lead to improvement, because it simply is not realistic.  The key is to be observant and learn the details of each technique. This is why we drill, for there are so many techniques to learn.

To drill does not mean to repeat ad nauseum. Not only would that get boring fast, but it would deprive you of reaching your full potential. A proficient grappler will learn a move, figure out how it works, before applying resistance or repetition. There is no need for rushing or applying full strength. Allow your partner to increase resistance while you get comfortable with the technique. Once you feel you have it, check in with your partner. Did it feel correct? Ask for suggestions on how to improve your execution. Remember, this is a drill, not a match. This is the time for making mistakes and becoming familiar with your partner’s reactions, so that you can learn to adapt and pivot when something does not work.

OK, now there is a place for repetition. Muscle memory is essential, and repetition is how achieve it. It is not about practicing a lot of techniques. It is about performing as many repetitions of one technique as possible. Choose quicker techniques to get the most reps. Resistance from your partner is not as important here, just proper posture. Going limp, on the other hand, will not accomplish anything. Being a good partner means being an active and attentive participant. Finally, focus on sequences, not just moves. Once your partner counters your technique, you should react by transitioning into something else, and so on. It is not about the number of moves; it is about improving reaction time.

Once you are feeling loose, it is time for resistance drilling. What does this mean? It means that it is now time to try stuff out. No more learning; no more repetition. Start from a single position and roll with it. You have got the moves and the muscle memory. Now, you are ready for mini-matches, or “short time drills”. Roll at full intensity for about forty seconds. Try a different set up or grip each time. Take a quick break, not too long, then switch positions.

Reaching your full potential is up to you and you alone. There is only so much you can learn from a blog post, so get on the mat and start training!

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