The Kimura Trap leads to an excellent series of transitions and submissions. It has been popularised by David Avellan and frequently utilised by such names as Andre Galvao, Keenan Cornelius, Andris Brunovskis and Dominick Cruz.
It is also an example of one of the most difficult positional concepts to understand in Jiu Jitsu: A Position of Transition.
Positions of Transition are positions where control is not exerted in a traditional pinning or riding fashion.
Pins are dominant positions in which control is exerted by restricting and controlling the opponent’s movement and Rides are dominant positions where control is exerted despite the opponent’s movement.
A Position of Transition’s primary method of control is the gateways it creates to other positions or submissions. However, unlike pins and rides, the ability to remain in these positions is comparatively limited and these gateways are created almost exclusively through the opponent’s choices.
In this example it is easy to see how the attacker’s options are essentially dictated by the choices of the defender and it is equally easy to see how the attacker has little means to force any particular choice upon the defender.
Why is any of this important?
Well, despite being easily entered into from a variety of situations and allowing a series of extremely powerful actions, Positions of Transition are comparatively under utilised. And they are not uncommon – Kimura Trap, Harness, Two on One and Seatbelt are all Positions of Transition if used correctly.
Secondly, realise that due to their action/reaction type nature, Positions of Transition take significantly more drilling than more conventional positions to make use if their full potential.
Training in a martial art can be one of the most rewarding and positive experiences you can have in your life providing benefits to you physically, mentally and emotionally. That said, getting started can be daunting and for a lot of people just walking through the doors of an academy for the first time is incredibly intimidating.
While taking a deep breath and simply turning up for a class will generally work out for the best there are still a few things you can do to ensure your early experiences lay the foundation for a rewarding martial arts adventure.
Before You Go to Your First Class
Do your research.
Not all BJJ academies are the same; some focus on sport jiu jitsu, some on MMA, some on self defence and others will cover the full spectrum of the martial art. There will also be significant differences in the gym cultures which is what will really determine whether or not you continue training.
We live in an age of information so it’s easy to check out the Facebook page, business reviews and website of anywhere you are considering training. If you are uncertain how to do this click —>here<—
Go to the website.
So you’ve found a place that looks good. Now go back to the website and actually read it.
Read the class descriptions, view the timetable, check out the cost and find out whether or not there is a free trial. You should also see if there are starting requirements as some places will have specific beginners courses or insist that you do a number of one on one sessions before jumping into the group class.
Email or call the academy.
It’s always a good idea to actually check in with the academy before you turn up; There may be a special event or some other unusual circumstance that would make it a less than ideal time for your first session.
Turn up about ten minutes early.
If you turn up this early then, depending on how the academy in question is organised, the coach will either be busy or not there yet. Just give yourself enough time to find the place, introduce yourself and fill out a small amount of paperwork.
During Your First Class
Expect some culture shock.
Every martial art has its own culture, traditions and social expectations and they can seem totally unfathomable to a new student. To add to the confusion no two academies are exactly alike even within the same style. Jiu Jitsu, which is generally considered to be comparatively informal when it comes to martial arts, will still have a number of rules of etiquette including, but not limited to:
You might be expected to line up in rank order at the beginning and end of class
You might be expected to bow whenever you walk on or off the mat
You might be expected to refer to the instructor as “Professor”
You might be expected to slap hands and/or bump fists with your training partner
You might be expected to line up and shake everyone’s hand after training
You might be expected to say “Oos” way too often and in ways that make no grammatical sense
Or you might not.
Hopefully the coach or a senior student will explain to you ahead of time what’s going to happen and what is expected but there’s no guarantee so be prepared to just roll with whatever happens – people will understand that you are new and learning “how things are done”.
So to recap:
If you haven’t done a martial art before then there are many things that are going to seem unusual to you.
If you have done a martial art before then there are many things that are going to seem unusual to you.
Expect to feel unfit.
Unless you are transitioning from another kind of grappling art, expect to feel very unfit during your first few sessions of BJJ. Even if you run marathons and crossfit every day a typical BJJ training session will get you very tired. It’s not that jiu jitsu is unusually demanding, it’s that the physical demands of any martial art tend to be very specific and this, combined with your lack of knowledge on how and when to relax, will quickly wear you out. The plus side is that this feeling is short lived. A couple of weeks of regular attendance and you’ll feel like you’re back at your base level of fitness.
Expect to be terrible.
Martial arts are complicated and it can take many years of training to become highly skilled, but for some reason a decent number of people seem to assume that they know what they’re doing before even completing their first lesson.
Realise that you are a danger to yourself and others.
If you are doing any kind of full contact martial art, such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the potential for minor and major injuries is present and, as a beginner, you won’t yet know how to take care of yourself.
This means that your training partner is doing all the work to make sure that neither one of you gets hurt. So rather than fighting as hard as you can “to win”, realise that your partner is fighting to keep you safe. Keep it light and remember that you are here to learn. This will have the added benefit that your higher ranked partner is less likely to decide that simply crushing you is the easier option.
If you come with a friend expect the coach to split you up.
There is no surer path to injury than having two beginners train with one another.
After Your First Class
Expect to be sore in ways you haven’t experienced before.
You’ve just used your body in ways it’s never been used before so expect a few new muscle aches to crop up the next day. After a few more classes your body will adapt and these new aches and pains will cease to occur. This would be exactly the same if you had just lifted weights for the first time or spent an hour trying to learn how to play squash despite never having picked up a racquet before.
If you did some kind of sparring then you’ve probably picked up a few bumps and bruises too. Like the aches, these are largely the result of experiencing something new – in this case significantly more body contact than you were previously used to – and these will also diminish as you begin training more regularly.
You will have questions. Many, many questions.
If your question starts with “What if” then please just stow that sucker in the back of your brain/write it down on a piece of paper and set it on fire. Understand that generally these kind of questions are answered with time and training and that the answer is frequently “It’s a fight, try not to let them do that”.
Other questions though – questions about the gym, the gear, the training, the coaches and the art itself – should be asked without hesitation. Common questions include
How do memberships work?
What kind of training gear do I need and where do I get it?
How do I tie my belt?
How do I care for my hair while training?
How hard should I go in sparring?
The Next Few Weeks
Start with two or three classes per week.
I know you’re excited and want to get as much out of this new experience as you can but you really need to ease into it. I’ve seen a number of people get started with BJJ and immediately jump into six classes a week and less than a month later they miss a class and I never see them again. Those who become long term students of the art start off with two or three classes per week and might, over time, build to more frequent training.
Expect to be corrected.
When you start training in any martial art there are two very common scenarios. Scenario one is that you feel like you are doing the technique or drill correctly but you are still being consistently corrected. Scenario two is that you feel like you are too uncoordinated to do the technique or drill correctly but you are still being consistently corrected. Neither scenario is correct.
You are not doing the movement correctly but you don’t know it yet because you are untrained.
You are not doing the movement correctly but you are not uncoordinated, you are untrained.
Accept the correction, continue training and never forget that, despite what movies and your mother tell you, it is statistically very unlikely that you are either amazing talented or particularly inept. You are paying a coach to teach you when you show up, help you when you want it and correct you when you need it.
Recently I was listening to social media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk talking to an aspiring entrepreneur. He posed the question, “Are you losing belief, or do you just wish it was happening faster?” I instantly applied this question to my own BJJ journey, and the kind of thoughts I know many people who train also have.
BJJ is full of ups and downs, and you often spend a great deal of time thinking, “why am I not progressing?” Or how you can feel good one week about your game, but the next feel much worse.
I think in these situations Gary’s question, “Are you losing belief, or you just wish it was happening faster?” is the perfect question to ask yourself in order to help get over those humps and stay positive. I’m willing to bet that a majority of the time you just wish you were better, and didn’t have to worry about being swept, missing opportunities, getting subbed, and other BJJ woes.
So how do you speed up the process? Its simple, more mat time! Get to the gym more, and spend as much time as you can in that environment. If you’re already living at your gym, then concentrate on smarter training. By this I mean apply yourself in class, and study the techniques the coach is teaching, both inside and outside the gym. Spend time at home watching matches and techniques, going over techniques, moves and sequences in your head.
BJJ is unique in that I don’t think it takes very long for someone to go from just starting and doing one class a week, to then filling out all their spare time with classes and investing a lot of time into improving.
So if you’re doing all this and still feeling frustrated, there’s one other key aspect to focus on, and that’s developing patience.
Stay patient and believe in your training and keep positive. If you put in the time you will see the rewards! Its only a matter of time, and patience.
Don’t get down about it, keep training and doing the best that you can, and everything you want in your BJJ will appear, but you have to keep training. If you slow down in a slump, or take some time off, you’re only going to make it harder on yourself if improving your BJJ is something you truly want.
Simon is one of our coaches who specialises in one-on-one and small group training. Below he shares his experience and thoughts on participating in the Gymnasticbodies method of training.
I have always enjoyed doing bodyweight training. I think we should all be able to control our bodies in space, whether it is in a basic functional way, or by taking it to the next level with acrobatics and fancy movements.
Last year I participated in the Gymnasticbodies (GB) Level 1 Seminar hosted by Coach Christopher Sommers. You can read my review here.
So with my little boy Ash being roughly two months old at the time, and needing to spend more time at home (with not a lot of sleep), I decided to make the Foundation series my main training focus.
Both programs require only a limited range of equipment, so I could do a lot of it at home, and use the equipment when I was at the gym (gymnastic rings and a pull up bar).
I started the program at week 5 to 9 for each phase, as the earlier phases were very basic. I also knew it would take me nine months to get through all of F1.
One of the good things about the GB website is that it has all the programming set out for you, so you only have to concentrate on the week that you’re up to. It also has a follow along format so you don’t get to confused with all the shorthand.
There are also a range of videos you can watch if you need to remind yourself of the form and technique for both strength and mobility.
The Foundation Series uses strength and mobility in each area of the program, and it always includes strength, followed by mobility/flexibility. So if you skip the mobility you’re technically only doing half the work.
For example: Bent Hollow Body Hold (FL/PE1 60sec) then Cat Cow (FL/PE1>iM 5reps)
Here’s where all the training leads to:
Front Lever (FL)
Straddle Planche (sPL)
Side Lever (SL)
Single Leg Squat (SLS)
Hollow Back Press (HBP)
Rope Climb (RC)
While I say that I completed all of F1, I couldn’t do most of the Single Leg Squat section due to partial meniscus tear in my left knee from BJJ, it just wasn’t stable enough for me to trust it.
As I am writing this, I just had a look at the F1 programming again and they have changed the SLS programming to what looks a lot easier or achievable for people who are limited in the use of their lower body.
Now for what I thought about the F1 program. I really enjoyed it, I guess coming from a Capoeira background means that I could pick some things up a little quicker than some other people.
The program is not a quick moving program, by that I mean it’s not a super entertaining program, but it’s not supposed to be, your focus should be on accuracy not intensity.
I like the process of the step-by-step actions that lead from simple to challenging.
Also, each exercise has a ‘Mastery’ part to it. For example: Bent Arm Chin Hang (RC/PE6) which was 5x60sec which was really hard at the start, but now it’s possible (again I checked the site and it’s only 5x30sec…)
Where my mindset differs from what they (GB) are looking for is mastery, and looking for mastery in movements isn’t why I train (but doing cool movements is nice).
When I first started Capoeira, I wanted to be good, I wanted to be able to walk into the Roda and be able to keep up with whoever I was playing, and I feel the same with BJJ.
When it comes to movement it’s always good to think about the bigger picture. Basic movements lead to more complex movements, but it’s up to you how far you take it.
For me, longevity is what keeps me motivated and focused. I want to be in this game for the long haul.
Find out more about training with Simon and his background here.
(Photo credit: Unity Gym)
2002 – 2005 – White Belt
I was a 21 year old who had just begun a philosophy degree at university. The local video store had allowed me to see the first five UFC events and, inspired by the exploits of Royce Gracie, my friends and I began ‘training’ in a garage. A few months later, a customer at the shop I was working at alerted me to the existence of a Machado BJJ club in the area, and so I went to have a look. Keen to test my garage sharpened ‘skills’, it was in May of 2002 that I showed up to my first class in my grass stained, low budget judo gi ready to roll.
Needless to say, I was soundly handled by everyone during sparring that night, but the roll that really captured my attention and imagination was the one I had with the instructor. Michael was only a blue belt, and he was a little bigger and stronger than me, but the way he handled me was such that at no time did I feel like anything I did mattered. He could have been a ten year old girl and the result would have been exactly the same. The dude was water. This was what I wanted to do.
The main thing I learned at white belt was to relax. Most of the guys I trained with back then were much bigger than me, as they were mainly guys with professional martial arts or security backgrounds, and so I quickly learned that pushing, pulling, or grabbing harder never really helps, but it does always tire you out and sometimes leads to injury. Once you can get that super-chill breathing going with a super heavyweight sitting on your face, then you can focus your mind on positional maintenance and problem solving in any situation.
2005 – 2008 – Blue Belt
Still at uni. One of only a handful of blue belts in a sea of white belts.
Cocky. The move collector. The cutting edge, half guard/hooks guard phenom.
You know JJ Machado? I roll like him.
“Stupid purple belt instructor is living in the past, man. Saulo Ribeiro and Marcelo Garcia are changing the game and this dope has us doing closed guard sweeps? Bleh. I’m off to the corner to do my own stuff with the other cool blue belts.“ – Me ‘07
Anyway, I was pretty deluded as a blue belt. Don’t get me wrong, the stuff we were doing on the side was good stuff, but my attitude towards moves I ‘already knew’ was misled. At that time, I thought the key to the game was simply to know more moves than your opponent, and that knowing a move was a simple matter of getting to the point that you could demonstrate it.
However, as I got closer to purple belt I started to understand that the new school stuff I had been doing was only particularly effective for me because of how much work I had invested into learning how to use it. This reality check made me see all of the techniques I had previously learned in a different light, and I started to move my training focus away from the acquisition of new techniques, and towards the sharpening of existing ones.
2008 – 2011 – Purple Belt
Public Servant. Instructing the no gi Saturday class.
“To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” – Ric Flair
More than half the rolling I did as a purple belt was against one brown belt. He was about my weight and one of the best brown belts in the country, and so I had made it my mission to get to the level needed to credibly compete against him. I adopted Saulo Ribeiro as my surrogate instructor by watching his three instructionals to the point that I sounded like Saulo, and then used these teachings to sharpen my defensive postures and escapes to the point that I was eventually able to give ‘the man’ a run for his money through sheer defensive capability.
When ‘the man’ got his black belt from Anthony Perosh, he gave me my brown.
So what did I learn as a purple belt? Teaching is a good way to figure out that you don’t know shit about a move. White belts will ask perfectly valid questions about your favourite move and you will not have an answer, and begin to question whether you yourself actually do the move correctly. However, hopefully this will lead you to find the answers to these questions, which will then further your understanding of the move. At purple belt I learned that furthering your ability to teach a move is the final process of developing your own mastery of it.
2011 – 2016 – Brown Belt
Tried to be a real estate agent in 2012. No training for 18 months. Came back out of shape in 2014.
“Wtf just happened? The little kid is a beast.” Me ‘14
Before my 18 month hiatus, I had shared many rolls with one particular teenage blue belt, and had always had an easy time beating him. I once subbed him sixteen times in a minute during a grading roll. Anyway, while I was away, not only had he grown from a blue belt boy into a purple belt man, but he had also made two six week trips to AOJ in San Diego, where he had trained six days a week.
I came back, and the kid destroyed me. He took vengeance for that sixteen sub exhibition I had laid on him back in the day, and it wasn’t pretty. Not only that, but he was using techniques that I was largely ignorant of. As I previously noted, I had stopped collecting moves back when I was a purple belt, but as a result I had not kept up with the newer tactics as I had always thought that my ‘brown belt fundamentals’ would see me through. Convinced that it must be the new moves that were allowing an inferior grappler to defeat me, I scrambled to learn about every berimbolo, single X, curu curu, fifty fifty, whateverty doo-dah I could find, only to arrive at a far scarier realisation.
It wasn’t the moves. The kid had just been training way harder than me, and was now a better grappler than me.
The colour of my belt together with all my additional years of experience didn’t change the fact that I threw everything I had at this kid over and over and never came close to getting an attacking position. I had been resting on my laurels, and now the student had become the master.
So I started training harder, and seeking more knowledge with clearer goals in mind, and slowly I began to close the gap. The kid’s a freak so I don’t think I’ll ever have the edge on him again, but at 36 I’m happy just as long as I can give the top guys a good competitive match. It seems dumb to learn it so late, but at brown belt I really learned that goal-focussed mat time is what leads to improvement in BJJ, i.e. train as often as you can, know what you are there to work on, and work on it.
It was in 2015 as a brown belt that I accepted a coaching position at the new Atos club in Canberra.
2016 – Black Belt
I’m still coaching at Atos Canberra as the women’s instructor and assistant instructor to the main class. I am enjoying my BJJ training as much as ever, and I am looking forward to continuing my BJJ learning long into the future.
So, that’s my BJJ journey so far. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your training.
Here’s a video of me getting promoted to black belt by Professors JT Torres, Antonio Mota, and Ben Langford at Atos Canberra.
One thing I consistently notice when training with different Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) coaches and instructors, is that everyone has a different opinion of what techniques are considered fundamental. It got me thinking about the idea of fundamental positions vs fundamental techniques, which really made sense to me.
I recently started using this concept while teaching, to help beginners learn and understand BJJ more intuitively.
Fundamental positions like closed guard, open guard, side control, mount, and back control are positions we encounter in every roll, and in most cases are easily recognisable for either person in the fight, or even a spectator. With this recognition of the position, we can use this as a sort of a cue to then get people thinking about the techniques they should be doing, and better understanding the situation that they are in.
As for the fundamental techniques, I honestly do not believe there are any. Techniques vary too much from gym to gym because they’re often based on what that instructor feels comfortable teaching and showing. This is either because they have a particular type of strong game, or they teach how they were taught when they were learning.
This of course leads me into the whole berimbolo debate – specifically, where we see a lot of people complaining about white belts learning berimbolo before other ‘fundamental’ techniques.
I never quite understood this argument. The berimbolo itself isn’t too complex, and its pretty easy to grasp which situations to use it in. In this sense it’s no different than any other technique. As long as students understand this, I don’t see an issue in teaching it as a fundamental. If they struggle to understand it, they can try other techniques to achieve the same result.
The same rules apply for every other technique. There is always a situation associated with it, and it’s followed by a reaction or lack of a reaction. Once people understand this it will help them use it in sparring.
Essentially, regardless of the technique shown and weather you consider it to be fundamental or not, I think its important to link these with positions and situations, to help people understand and recognise when its appropriate to use the techniques they’ve been taught.
One of the nice things about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is that you can travel practically anywhere in the world and find somewhere to train. Training in a new academy in a different city or even a different country from your own can be one of the most rewarding and revealing experiences you can have as every gym has its own culture, philosophy and technical emphasis. Here are six quick tips on how to get the most out of your trip and make sure that you are welcomed back.
Do your research
Google the city you’re travelling to in conjuction with BJJ, and ask your coach and team mates if they’ve had any experience training at the destinations you’re keen on. Chances are that some of them have traveled to wherever you are going before and can suggest some good places to train. A personal recommendation is always a better bet than simply going with Google’s first page.
Once you’ve decided on a place, learn everything you can from their website. Find out the class schedule, the location, whether the sessions you plan to attend are gi or no gi, and what the mat fees are likely to be. This last point is especially important if you are planning on going somewhere famous. Places like Renzo’s or Marcelo’s academies in New York and the Mendes brother’s Art of Jiu Jitsu academy in California have significantly different mat fees for tourists and locals.
Apart from it simply being polite, it’s always an excellent idea to call the academy to let them know that you are coming. This is a chance for you to find out anything you couldn’t glean from their website, and for them to get an indication of who you are and how long you’ve been training. Ask which classes it would be appropriate for someone of your experience to attend, and whether they have any particular requirements regarding safety equipment or training gear.
Pack a standard white gi, and if you will be training enough to require a second gi then I would recommend bringing a white ultra light travel gi. You read that correctly – only pack white gis. Preferably ones unadorned with patches, although I do realise that’s not always possible.
Many gyms require all students to wear white gis, and many of those same gyms are not very good at communicating this requirement, so making your gi white by default is cheap insurance. Also wearing a white gi instead of your unicorn patched purple tiger striped gi is a small measure of respect for your host, which is often an under appreciated gesture. It’s the difference between attending a business lunch in a simple suit and tie, and attending that same lunch wearing a popped collar polo, tight white jeans and oversized aviators.
We all know that guy. Don’t be that guy.
Apart from that, I would also suggest packing a micro fibre towel and a notebook. It’s also a good idea to have your own sports tape, but if you are flying you should buy that once you arrive at your destination city, as airport security will confiscate any before you board the plane.
Make sure you arrive 15 minutes or so early so that you have time to sign any waivers, get shown around, meet the instructor and get changed. Seems obvious but many, many people fail to take these things into account and rock up expecting to be able to just jump on the mats.
Before class talk to a friendly looking blue belt
For some reason every academy assumes that all the little ceremonies and gestures of respect that make up “the way things are done” are the exact same at every gym world wide, but I have yet to visit two that are alike. So find yourself a blue belt, someone that knows what’s going on but who hasn’t been doing it for so long that it’s just a part of the background noise, and ask the following questions:
- Do you bow before stepping on or off the mats?
- Do you line up before or after class?
- What do I call the instructor?
There’s bound to be a few more culture traps that will leave you wondering what the hell is going on, but the above should at least get you through the first 10 minutes.
Go to train
Remember the reason you are visiting this club in the first place; specifically, you are there to train. You are not there to teach – so hold back on offering your insights (unless asked specifically by the instructor of course). You are not there to show how good you are – so roll like you’re trying to improve and not like you’re in the final of the mundials. You are not there to deliver your one man comedy show – so do the drills and restrict chatting to the breaks and after class.
To master Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the training must be severe
This doesn’t mean that the training must necessarily be physically demanding (although it often is), it means that your training must constantly remind you of the areas of your game that need improvement. Severe training shows you where you are weak and tests you where you are strong, it strips away the comfort of self delusion and replaces it with daunting truth. This kind of training is hardest on the mind and the ego.
Train for the short term
As self evident as this sounds, it apparently bears repeating: the goal of your training is to make you better at Jiu Jitsu. Not more mobile, or stronger or even ‘better’ in some esoteric kind of way. Better at BJJ in an immediate, concrete and measurable fashion. As such, 80 per cent plus of your training time should be spent doing the things that result in this kind of improvement. Modalities like positional work, isolation sparring, rotation training and rolling are your best bet here.
Train for the middle term
Middle term training requires both a time investment and a decent foundation built by short term training, before you see much of a pay off. It is important to begin developing this area early on though, as the actual techniques of Jiu Jitsu (submissions, sweeps, escapes, etc) belong to this category.
Train for the long term
Training for the long term is probably the trickiest to do well. It improves your ability to train for the short and middle term, and as a result it is at least one level removed from improving your actual fighting skill. Because of this, it can be hard to tell if what you’re doing is bullshit or actually useful. Movement drills and slow flow rolling are great options.
Position, position, position
In BJJ circles it’s a sadly frequent occurrence to hear an instructor say something like “position before submission” before teaching 16 omaplata variations and a flying armbar guard pass. The postures, pressures and objectives of positions are rarely explicitly taught. More often, these techniques are left to the athlete to develop via the traditional “time on the mat” route, which is stupid as the main difference between levels is ability and understanding of positional control. In short, work on achieving, maintaining and pressuring in every position and your abilities will sky rocket.
Train all the aspects of Jiu Jitsu
BJJ is an art made up of many aspects: gi, no gi, takedowns, ground work, self defence, Vale Tudo and sport. Developing each is important not just for its own sake, but for the many flow on effects that occur. For example, training takedowns improves your base, grip fighting, scrambling and power across the board and training Vale Tudo results in greater facilities in control, distance management and stress management.
Isolation sparring is the fastest route to a strong game
The quickest way to strengthen your game is to isolate a position, for example, side control, and a goal, such as a submission or escape. You then roll starting in that position with the express purpose of achieving that goal. As soon as either player reaches their goal, you reset and go again.
Early specialisation leads to short term wins and long term stagnation
An easy way to get a competitive advantage early on in your Jiu Jitsu career is to specialise to the exclusion of your other skills. Deep half, 50/50 and inverted guards are popular choices, but so are guillotine and triangle chokes. While this does tend to lead to some comparatively easy wins, whenever you encounter someone who can deal with or simply avoid your specialisation you have no recourse.
Focus on the process
The process is the only part of training that you have any influence over. You can’t change the past (successes or regrets), and you can’t control the future (outcomes), so you should focus on the present (the process) and get as much as you possibly can out of each and every moment.
Enjoy the results
When you do achieve something you’ve worked for, whether it’s the next rank or nailing that sweep you’ve been drilling, be sure to take a moment and enjoy your success. Too often achievements are passed over in the race to reach the next goal and after a while this can suck some of the passion out of your practice. So next time you achieve something, celebrate and then get back on the track to your next goal.
Play is the way
Animals, including humans, learn and discover best through play. You never see a pride of lions line up and work on their ‘paw swipe to throat rip’ combination; instead they swat and wrestle each other while quite clearly having fun. A play ethic allows creative and continuous development free from judgement or expectation.
Time on the mat makes up for a lot
Poor quality coaching, lousy training partners, bad attitudes to learning, and practically anything else that gets in the way of effective skill acquisition can be made up for with sufficient time on the mat.
Use your time on the mat wisely
Regardless of whether you train 3 times a day or just twice a week, you should strive to use your mat time wisely. Time is a non–renewable resource so you should train with that in mind. The more you can get out of every minute of training the greater your understanding, skill and enjoyment of this art will be.
Train with everyone
While it is important to have a regular instructor and training partners, it is equally important to expose yourself to a variety of styles and techniques. The best way to do that is to train with a large variety of people from different academies. Visit gyms when you travel, go to seminars, take advantage of open mats, and roll with people that have different grappling backgrounds.
Don’t train with douche bags
No matter how good they are or what they know, it’s never worth it. Training with or learning from douche bags is the fastest way to ruin your enjoyment of what should be a positive martial arts experience. The training partners you actually like will steadily leave, you’re way more likely to get hurt and the more time you spend with douche bags, the more likely it is that you will become one yourself.
Strength training helps but don’t let it get in the way
Strength training is a very useful accessory to BJJ. But if fatigue, soreness or even the time commitment begins to negatively impact your Jiu Jitsu training, you need to reevaluate. Ultimately you need to decide if you are a Jiu Jitsu athlete who lifts weights or a weight lifter who does some Jiu Jitsu, and then prioritise accordingly.
Consistent training is better than hard training
Consistency is the greatest determining factor in skill acquisition and in achieving high performance. As such it is much better to train 6 days a week at 70-80 per cent than three days a week at 100 per cent.
Rolling is about learning not winning
If every time you roll your main objective is to win, then you are significantly limiting your development. Rolling to learn allows you to explore new positions and scenarios, try different techniques, and experience all kinds of scenarios. Rolling to win on the other hand typically results in trying to impose the same game every time, and experiencing very little outside of that.
It’s all about hips, grips & trips
Correctly positioned hips are the keystone to good Jiu Jitsu, enabling you to apply superior leverage. Dominant grips let you use that leverage to maximum effect, and keeping your opponent off balance (trips), both physically and mentally, limits their ability to fight back.