How to be successful at BJJ
Want to up your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) game? It doesn’t matter if you’re goal is to win ADCC or just hold your own against the local academy blue belts, there are a number of core principles that you can follow to improve your skills and make the most of your training.1. Train with Consistency
One of the most important things you can do to be successful at BJJ is to be consistent with your training. This means showing up to class regularly, putting in the work, and making the most of the time you have on the mats. Like most things in life, the more you practice, the better you get. If you can make it to class seven days a week, that’s awesome and you’re well on the way. For many of us, however, a few times a week is the best we can hope for consistently. That’s why it’s also important to remember to stay focused while you’re there. Focused practice for an hour will be more beneficial to you than crappy practice for a longer duration. We have always preferred the expression “Perfect practice makes perfect” over “Practice makes perfect”.
It’s also important to note that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to train if you’re injured. Take care of your body and don’t make an injury worse by training hurt. It often results in more time off the mats. We’re not saying you should skip class any time you get a little ache, but it’s important to know your body and when something is serious enough that it needs rest. Along the same lines, it’s important that you train responsibly and not injure your teammates and training partners. Know how to roll safe and pick partners that know how to do the same.
Remember that BJJ is a complex martial art, and it takes time to develop the skills and techniques needed to be successful. The more you practice, the better you will get, so make sure to put in the time and effort required to make progress.
2. Train with Focus
Continuing the theme above, training with focus is another great way to improve your game. A major key to success in BJJ is to focus on technique over strength. BJJ is a martial art that emphasizes technique, leverage, and timing, rather than brute strength. This means that even smaller or weaker practitioners can be successful if they have good technique. When you are training, focus on perfecting your technique and learning the intricacies of each move, rather than relying solely on your strength.
In addition, when you train, it’s often helpful to focus on an area you want to improve. Come to class with a plan for what you want to achieve. For example, you may want to dedicate a day (or days) to working on your armbar game, or your bottom mount escapes. And if that means starting a roll in bottom mount, then don’t be afraid to do so. That’s one of the ways you get better.
3. Stay relaxed
BJJ can be an intense and physically demanding martial art, but it's important to stay relaxed during training. Tension and stress can hinder your technique and make it harder to execute moves effectively. Focus on your breathing, stay calm and relaxed, and try to approach each training session with a clear and focused mind.
You may have heard the saying “be comfortable being uncomfortable”. That means staying focused and calm, even when a roll isn’t going your way and you’re getting twisted up like a pretzel. Work on the technique to advance your position. Don’t spaz out.
4. Don't be afraid to ask questions
If you're new to BJJ or struggling with a particular technique, don't be afraid to ask questions. Your instructor and training partners are there to help you learn and improve, so take advantage of their knowledge and experience. Ask questions, seek feedback, and take the time to understand each move and technique thoroughly.
This is a topic we cover in our BJJ white belt beginner tips, but it really applies to all levels. Use the resources around you. The BJJ community is great at sharing knowledge and if you train at a quality place, then your teammates will be more than willing to help you with questions you have.
5. Cross-train and supplement your training
This is another topic we touch on in our white belt beginner tips, but once again it applies to the higher ranks too. There are things that you can do outside of active training that will help your jiu jitsu game. For example, you can supplement your training with other activities and exercises. Cross-training in other martial arts or physical activities can help improve your overall fitness, flexibility, and agility, which can all be beneficial for BJJ. Additionally, you may want to consider incorporating strength training, yoga, or other forms of exercise into your routine to help support your BJJ training.
Another resource is the internet and instructional videos. You can learn a lot from a quality video that you can then take back to the mats and apply. It’s even more useful if you have a training partner watch the same video so you can work on the techniques together when you meet up on the mats. If you miss class due to injury or other events then continuing your learning with videos. That way you are always progressing even if you're not physically on the mats.
6. Focus on principles and ideas rather than just memorizing specific moves.
There are thousands (some could argue infinite) positions and techniques in BJJ when you include variations. It is literally impossible to remember every possible move and position especially in a live situation when you may be tired and/or under duress. Instead focus on principles and with time learn to apply specific techniques to those principles. For example instead of remembering every escape and defense from bottom side control focus on the principles like keeping your arms close to your body, framing, and hip movement.
7. Set goals and track your progress
Finally, if you want to be successful at BJJ, it's important to set goals and track your progress. Whether you want to compete in tournaments or simply improve your skills, setting clear goals can help keep you motivated and focused on your training. Additionally, tracking your progress can help you see how far you've come and identify areas where you need to improve. Be sure to set small goals, not just big ones. Yes, you may have a bigger goal of winning your next tournament but this can’t be tracked on a daily or weekly basis. Smaller goals like getting your guard passed less, or making it a minute longer before getting tapped by a certain partner are more noticeable and easier to track.
In conclusion, being successful at BJJ requires dedication, hard work, and a willingness to learn and improve. By focusing on technique over strength, staying relaxed, asking questions, cross-training, and setting goals, you can develop the skills and abilities needed to be successful in this exciting martial art. Remember to enjoy the journey, celebrate your successes, and keep pushing yourself to be the best that you can be.