They say that sports performance is 90% mental and the rest is technical aptitude. So what holds people back from improving in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Mental resistance. In order to break through and achieve a jump in levels, you must consciously decide to open you mind to change. Once you decide, these steps will lead you to improvement in a relatively short period of time.
Here are some common phrases that indicate that you are mentally resisting your own improvement:
“I’m not a deep half guard guy”
“I don’t get it, the technique doesn’t make sense”
“Wrestling is too hard”
“I can’t/don’t do no gi”
You can achieve a level jump in 1-2 months, or even shorter depending on how many mat hours you can train. It all starts with the commitment and decision to be open minded coupled with the desire to improve. The steps you take thereafter are simple.
To improve your game, talk to your instructor and identify one new passing system, a new submission system, and a new guard system. A system isn’t just one move, like the knee cut. It is the knee cut – heavy hip – x-pass system, a coherent set of movements that work together. The easy part is that your coach can identify what you need and with their expertise give you the set of techniques. That’s their job. The trick thereafter once you’ve got your new system is actively working only that new system in the training room.
In the first few weeks to a month, you’re the nail. You get beat. Your system doesn’t work correctly. You apply half the technique wrong. And your movement is too slow. So you drill the new system until the movement becomes more natural without a resisting opponent. In the few weeks following your corrections, you focus on executing the technique in sparring. You add explosiveness to the passes and sweeps. You force yourself not to think about the movement beforehand—you just do it. You believe you can. You trust that the drilling taught your muscles how to move and your explosiveness will carry you. After a month or two of making small corrections, you suddenly realize that you’ve become the hammer. That new passing and/or guard system is part of your game and you have new movements. Your coach starts saying, ‘wow you’ve improved faster than your teammates!’
Part of the commitment you make to yourself is to avoid playing your best game or resorting to what you can already do well. You probably have developed one part of the game that you can successfully hit in the training room. But the goal isn’t to replay your best movements. It’s to develop new ones. So don’t get scared and resort to what you’re already good at.
When you train, you need to be fully conscious of you actions and make intentional decisions to implement the new system. This means that you seek out the new positions and steer your sparring rolls in the direction so you can practice the new techniques. You can’t be a passive training partner. Be in control. Obviously if a highly belt beats you to a position, some of your sparring rounds will be out of your control. This is exactly the time to work on mount and side control escapes. Don’t look at this time as wasted. Every moment is an opportunity to learn. Repeat that to yourself when you spar, ‘this is an opportunity for me to improve every system in Jiu Jitsu.’ This frame of mind is powerful and will build the 90% mental advantage you can possess to improve your Jiu Jitsu. If you’re unsure, ask your teammates. But first, make the commitment and believe in yourself.