The keys to becoming better at Jiu-Jitsu don’t always rest in the in the hands of your instructor or the quality of your training partners, nor does it always come from getting the most up to date techniques used in competition.
While those things are important and contribute to the overall development of your skills, what really matters is the commitment you make to the art of jiu-jitsu and your discipline and what I like to refer to as the three P’s of training.
What are the three P’s of training?
Practice, Persistence and Patience…
This article will teach you how to use the three P’s to ensure that your jiu-jitsu improves at a steady pace, avoiding the typical “slumps” that come with training an art for so long.
P1 - Practice
Drilling is one of the most, if not the most, important keys to developing an overall game in jiu-jitsu.
1. When learning a new technique; Drill the move with no resistance, if your partner is using resistance it will only ensure that you will have to force the move for it to work! When you force a move, you most likely are doing something incorrectly and that incorrect movement will be programmed into your muscle memory. Work hard to ensure that your body is learning correct form early on and consistently throughout your training.
2. Locking the move down; Once you grasp a basic understanding of how the technique works, you can start having your partner use varying degrees of resistance. This will help you learn the timing and create different angles of the technique, so that when used in live training you’ll be able to have moderate to good success in getting the technique to work.
3. Connecting the puzzle pieces; Once you’ve drilled a move to death, gone for it in resistance drilling and had success in live training, it’s time to find how the technique fits into your game. For example, a brabo choke is a great submission, but if you never get to the position where you see it and are able to use it, then it’s worthless. All techniques have their place in a series of exchanges. Your job now is to figure out how to seamlessly connect the new move into your style of movement. If you’re having trouble, just ask your instructor.
P2 – Persistence
Being persistent has many meanings but for me its most important meaning is having discipline in your approach to training.
1. Show up; If you’re not showing up to train then I’m sorry, but you’re not going to get any better. While a brief break in training is good to focus the mind, taking a month or more off only sets you back. There is nothing better to breaking a slump than getting in there and working yourself out of it.
2. Go after it; If you want to get better at let’s say an x-choke then you’re going to need to drill that move and, even more importantly, you’re going to need to really go after that move in your live training. This does have a way of making your matches a bit boring, but overall it improves your chances of actually getting the move to work.
3. Let go of the ego; Be persistent in controlling your ego. Being the best jiu-jitsu guy in your academy only ensures that someone eventually is going to catch up to you. Don’t fall into the trap of always needing to win every match in class. You need to experiment, you need to take risks and you need to put yourself in bad positions as often as possible. Here are some things you can do in your live training to ensure that you keep your game in top-notch condition.
i.) Positional only rolling; If you a submission hunter, then a great exercise is to start your first match without allowing any submissions, since your goal is to outmaneuver your opponent to gain advantageous position.
ii.) Bad side rolling; Here you’re going to want to train everything on the other side. So, if you like to armlock your opponent’s left arm, then only armlock his right. If you like to pass the guard to the left, then go right. If you’re a wiz at escaping cross side when he’s on your right side, then he’s got to be on your left. And so on..
iii.) No ego, unconventional rolling; In this type of training, your job is to basically go for moves that are not typically in your game and for positions in which you don’t usually find yourself. You’re going to want to just move as quickly as possible from positions, sweeps, and submissions while at the same time allowing your partner to do the same. This type of training really improves your ability to improvise and to see different submission all while on the go.
P3 - Patience
Rome was not built in a day and so goes jiu-jitsu. Mastery of the art, for the average person, takes many, many years, if even attainable at all.
1. You don’t need all the answers right now; In jiu-jitsu there are many techniques, many counters, and many counters to the counters and so on. Understand that your brain and your body can only download so much information before you it gets overloaded with information. This often happens to those starting out, so avoid the pitfalls of trying to know everything at once…you can’t. Focus on what is most important, which at the beginning should be developing a great defensive game.
2. Moves come and go; Years ago, I was an ace with the Uchi Mata, which is a type of JUDO throw. Now, I can’t seem to find the timing or the opening to land that throw. No worries, my arsenal of takedowns has grown and matured over the years. I may at some point come back and find that move or I may not. It’s not important as long as you’re improving.
3. I’ll work on that later; You don’t need to have the best half guard to be good at jiu-jitsu. Focus on what you’re good at now, as there is always time for exploring later. I always remind my students that there are techniques that I learned as a white belt that I really didn’t start to explore until I was a brown belt. In the end, will it affect your game today not knowing that move or position? Probably not, but as you progress and mature in the art, you’ll definitely want to come back and begin the process of exploration.
4. Don’t give up; My instructor once told me early in my career that if I wanted to be better than everyone else, then simply, just don’t quit. Sounds funny, but the truth is that if you do a thing for a long time then you really have no choice but to eventually get good at that thing.
Jiu-jitsu can be, that’s if you want it to be, a life-long journey. Now in my fifteen plus years of training, I find myself exploring and learning even more now than in all the years I worked towards my black belt. Using the three P’s method will only get you better. But the most important part is not to worry about your strengths and weaknesses but to enjoy the process of your improvement.