This article was written by BJJ.Org featured contributor Roy Harris. Harris is a black belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor in San Diego. It was originally published on his PFS web site www.royharris.comAllow me to share with you my personal perspective on effective training methods. This perspective, I believe, will guide you along a path to becoming a more efficient grappler. It will also help you to discover what areas of training need the most attention in your training regimen.
There are three specific areas of training that will help you become a better grappler:
technical knowledge,the development of physical and mental attributes, andthe use of strategy.Technical knowledge
Technical knowledge begins with the student learning a series of physical movements called techniques. Once these movements have been learned, the student should practice them until he/she can do them in their sleep. The student should try to reach a level where he/she can reflexively respond to a specific stimuli and perform the technique without thought. Next, a student must learn how to put the basic techniques together into a series of movements called combinations. These combinations will teach the student how to flow from technique to another when they encounter resistance. Resistance will guide them into the next area of training, the development of physical and mental attributes.
Attributes are those qualities that fuel the techniques. Physical attributes, like speed, power, explosiveness, balance, coordination, timing, sensitivity endurance and accuracy are the qualities that give life and vibrancy to techniques. Mental attributes, like focus, concentration, determination, the will to survive, and pain tolerance give extra added fuel to the physical attributes. Developing attributes is an extremely important and necessary component of training for the serious martial art student. Why? Because technical knowledge without the aid and assistance of physical and mental attributes is useless. Physical movements without the added fuel of speed, power, timing, accuracy or explosiveness are nothing more than a series of flowery dance movements. Developing these physical and mental qualities is more important than the accumulation of technical knowledge. Once technical knowledge has been combined with the development of physical and mental attributes, the student can begin to focus on the use of strategy.
Strategy can be defined as “a careful plan or method.” It is the choosing of a specific set of tactics that will enable the student to accomplish their desired goal in an efficient and effective manner. The strategy they choose will depend upon the unique set of circumstances that have presented themselves. It will also depend on the amount of technical information the student has, as well as which attributes the student and his opponent possess.
So, “Where do I start?” you might ask? Well, you start by learning and practicing the mechanics of a specific technique. Next, you put some techniques together into two and three technique combinations. Next, you spar with it, and then finally, you review it. Here’s an example of what I mean: let’s start with the mechanics of a triangle and an arm lock. There are eight separate components of a triangle. There are seven separate components of an arm lock. To realistically put these two techniques together into an effective combination (while sparring) would require you to manipulate about fifteen different components within a short period of time (less than two seconds). Plus, you would have to set the first technique up by leading your opponent into it from a superior position. (As you can see, this is not an easy task to accomplish. Especially the first time you try it. This is why it is so important to master the mechanics of one technique before moving on to another one.) So, as you can see, this is a lengthy process. However, it is obtainable.
Once you can perform a technique reflexively where you no longer have to think about it, you can then move on to developing the specific attributes required to make that technique work.
Once you gain a handle on the mechanics and the attributes, you can then focus your efforts on developing a variety of strategies to set the technique up on a variety of opponent’s. For example, how would you set up the technique on a bigger and stronger person? How would you set up the technique on a more experienced person? How do you set up the technique on an opponent who is faster than you are?
Do you see how strategies are dependent upon the physical and mental attribute and technical knowledge you possess? Do you see how technical knowledge and attributes lay a foundation for strategy?
Start this new journey of yours by first identifying your weaknesses. Once you’ve done that, attack those weaknesses like a wild chicken on crack! Get rid of those weaknesses so that you can one day look back on them and say, “I remember when…” Find something that you’re not good at and work hard to become good at it!
In closing, let me leave you with these words of wisdom: Everything of value will come through great efforts on your part!
Good training to you,