Improving quickly in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu isn’t easy. For beginners, however, the learning curve is lower and improvements come noticeably quicker. Genetic makeup, overall strength and conditioning, and previous experiences in similar athletic activities influence a practitioner’s ability to quickly assimilate BJJ movements. Certain behavior patterns, however, facilitate rapid improvement regardless of background and set a positive trend for future development. The following offers ambitious beginners a method for developing their grappling quickly.
Rolling. Who would you rather elect as a general? A soldier who has fought in a hundred battles, or a civilian who has read about a hundred battles? Rolling in BJJ allows practitioners use their full strength, agility, dexterity, flexibility, and endurance in a relatively safe manner to accumulate real-time fight experience. Rolling teaches beginners in BJJ about basic body mechanics, fluid movements, and spatial awareness. Feeling the shifts in your opponent’s weight, for instance, develops the ability to correctly time a sweep. Of course, given the option in the above hypothetical, a man with experiences in a hundred battles and a working knowledge of a hundred battles would form the quintessential general. At this stage, background in various forms of movement training like capoeira prove useful. Likewise, although frequent rolling should be stressed, it should be combined with technical session focused solely on technique.
Asking questions. Often described as physical chess, BJJ is both a physical and cognitive exercise. For optimal results beginners in BJJ should question everything. What’s the optimal body angle relative to your opponent’s torso for the knee-on-belly position? How high up should your hips be when in full mount? By adopting an analytical mindset beginner practitioners learn not only the ‘how’ but the ‘why’ and can began applying the principles to similar circumstances. After rolling especially, beginners should examine what went wrong and what went right and then attempt to correct nuances in technique during subsequent rounds.
Dedicating time. Rules and regulations, weight and belt classes, and substance bans all strive to equalize fighting conditions in BJJ competitions. But one import determinant for success that organizations can’t control is time spent training. Ambitious practitioners should arrive first, leave last, and attend classes with extreme regularity. Life will always attempt to interfere with training. It’s up to BJJ practitioners to make sacrifices in other aspects of life to prioritize training. Staying analytical and technical during classes and rolling often helps maintain the practitioners interest while defending against injury and burn out.
Envisioning sequences. Practice shouldn’t end when practitioners leave the mat. Whether its arm dragging metal railings on the public bus or fighting a friend for wrist control, the movements, combined with a little imagination, become directly applicable to BJJ. Envisioning sequences without physical movement also provides a useful exercise. Being able to accurately envision the details of a technique enhances the practitioner’s ability to both assimilate information gleaned in the last training session and to execute the techniques fluidly at the next training session. If during the mental exercises the practitioners cannot envision certain movements, it creates an area of focus for the next session.
Improving, let alone improving quickly, in BJJ takes hard work. The above suggestions create a basic framework for beginners that can help facilitates this rapid improvement. The exact rate of development, of course, depends on a myriad of factors, not least of which is the individual and the instructor. Eventually, changes in how practitioners conceptualize the act of grappling will likewise affect their development. But with dedication and conviction, the improvements will come!
Author: Johan Vandeleuv