The 1st key to Getting Better Faster!

Ever notice how champions only have a handful of moves that they pull off on their opponents?

Example; pull up a youtube highlight of Marcelo Garcia and watch how he arm drags his opponents either to the back or to a single leg, then either pushes to half guard and does a tight pass or sweeps with an x guard or sit up to another arm drag. Then he either finish you from the back, spin arm lock from side control or 69 guillotine or regular guillotine (no gi). An even better example is Roger Gracie in Gi competition… take down with foot sweep, pass with crazy pressure, mount, choke! Or if he goes to closed guard, he’ll either armlock you or go to your back or if you’re lucky enough to open his guard, he’ll sweep you when you try to put your knee in the middle with his patented wrap sweep. Then he’ll pressure pass (they call it the wet blanket!) and mount etc.. you get the point?

My question is HOW MUCH do they train these positions and more importantly how good can WE get if WE trained a handful of positions more! What do I mean by more? How bout choosing one position/technique and train it everyday for one week (or however many times you train per week) UNDER FULL RESISTANCE with every training partner!
I did an experiment myself with the back escape for one week. I had some surprising results that has changed the way I train and I think you will find very interesting. Now, I’m pretty sure our classes at Ralph Gracie SF (Also at Marin MMA) are similar to yours in that we do about a 30 minute warm up, either learn a few techniques or pass guard drills, drill the techniques, then train correct? This is how the Gracie’s did it and it’s still in effect today. With my experiment, I had an injury so I couldn’t train or do a lot of the positions. I opted to ‘take advantage of the injury’ (a whole other article in itself) and asked my training partner to take my back with full hooks and told him to try and finish me. If I got out or if he/she finished me then we would start over. That’s all I did with ALL OF MY TRAINING PARTNERS FOR ONE WEEK. Talk about throwing yourself into the deep end! Needless to say I got a lot of fat lips with guys trying to choke the sh*t out of me. I quickly learned the number one rule for the position the hard way… PROTECT YOUR NECK FIRST then worry about getting out!  I got rung a few times but the great thing about the repetition was I learned quick and remembered a ton of little things from different attackers! ALSO more importantly, I gained a lot of confidence in the position which didn’t allow me to panic and make a mistake. SUPER valuable in tournaments!
To recap the experiment, the first day I got choked by 2 blue belts for not protecting my neck BUT at the end of the week, I had 4 Black Belts on my back and escaped without any of them finishing me. I gained so much knowledge of the position because all of my opponents had different attacks which I had to adopt to quickly. AND since I was doing it over and over, I was able to remember and recall defenses and little positional tricks quickly. I called it "Trial by FIRE training". Where you get burned and learn quickly!
Now, I know many of you know how to escape back control but how many times do we learn a technique in class and then NEVER do the dam move during training?? A lot. I know some of you do but the majority of students don’t try the technique under full resistance. Then when they do, it doesn’t work for them the first time and they don’t try it again and they revert back to the moves they always do in training. You have to try the techniques taught in class UNDER FULL RESISTANCE with at least 5-10 different people (of different belt levels) to fully start to understand how the technique can be mastered!
If you try this, I think you will agree that this is a super valuable way of learning a position quickly AND ultimately help you get better faster. Another great example is the invention of the half guard by Gordo. He had a bad knee and couldn’t train the way he wanted to so he was forced to work a position over and over and over. The rest is history! They say skill is the mother of repetition. Well I think this is a sure fire way to create skill, experience and confidence in a position. Another great example would be JD Penn, BJ Penn‘s big brother. Back at Ralph Gracie Mountain View, JD as a blue belt had a bad shoulder injury and couldn’t use his arm so he’d tuck it in his belt and play his open guard. If someone passed or if he swept or finished they would start over. JD started to develop a very sneaky escrima under your arm and then use a powerful hip thrust to lock up a triangle. He also developed a side control escape that helped his hip movement. Needless to say when he healed he was getting a lot of people in triangle (and some when he was injured)!
I’m currently doing another experiment with half guard and mount escape due to a rib injury and challenge you to do yourself a favor and ‘jump in the fire’ with some techniques or positions you feel you need help with. You’ll be amazed at how fast you learn when you get burned a few times! You’ll also gain a ton of confidence in the position which will allow you to stay more focused and control your breathing. Just don’t be afraid to tap! Every champion today learned to tap a lot!
About the author… ‘Greggie’ Marcellino Rivera is a Black Belt under Ralph Gracie and trains/teaches in Nor-Cal at the SF (Kurt Osiander) and Marin MMA (Mikyo Riggs) academies. A long time friend to Scotty, was one of the original writers for AKA "the mosquito"

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