Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Training With Focus

This will be the first post I've written in a while that actually has a broader audience in mind, so it's probably going to be a bit long.


I've recently been involved in some random discussions over on /r/bjj that involved discussions of how often and how long people train each week, how much time is spent rolling vs drilling, whether people are hurting their progress by only training X amount of time per week, etc...

I train about 4 hours a week. Occasionally I manage to train 6 hours a week, and sometimes I can only train 2 or even 0 hours. And yet in the last 12 months I have improved to the point that I am rolling reasonably competitively with blackbelts and brownbelts who were absolutely clowning on me 12 months ago. The question becomes, 'How am I improving with so little training time?' and the answer is that I maintain a very tight focus when I am in class.

 Very often I will see white and blue belts, even other purple belts, drill a technique four or five times, then spend a bunch of time randomly chatting, then maybe drill it a few more times, then it's time for the next technique. During that same interval I drill the same technique thirty times, or fourty, or fifty. When I'm talking it's about troubleshooting the technique with my partner. I am focused on drilling the technique as many times as possible, thinking through each step of the technique, building a mantra for completing it and ingraining it as much as I can during the time I have available.

This focus also translates to rolling. I have an overarching concept that I am working on each time. If you are familiar with my writing you will remember the 'Be More Assertive' project from a few years ago. That was the overarching theme to my training for a long time and is still a constant point for me to remember. My current focus is on transitioning from defense to offense. That means that I am willing to risk letting my opponent advance positions in order to switch from purely defending into an offensive attempt of some kind. I know my defense is good, now I need to make that switch.
Because I have that overarching concept to base my training on I roll with a focus on improving that aspect of my jiujitsu. I am constantly working towards a specific goal and not just rolling for the sake of rolling.

Focus is what leads to improvement when other people are plateaued. When I plateau I on a given concept I drill down. I recently plateaued on my defense to offense work because I was getting into halfguard and locking the position down and stalling without offense. Other places I was transitioning fine from defense to offense, but halfguard I was not. I made it a focus for several weeks to get halfguard and specifically work on generating space, created sweep opportunities, and really working on my ability to attack from halfguard and make it an offensive position. I have been able to break through my plateau because of that and continue to improve.

For people who are able to train 20 hours a week this isn't a big deal. You can spend so much time on the mats that you just get better by dint of training volume. For those of us who are stuck training 3-6 hours a week it's critically important that we are mindful of how we spend our time when we are on the mats if we want to improve.


  • Don't screw around! If you are supposed to be drilling a technique then drill it as many times as you can. Pay attention to what you are doing and actively troubleshoot during the drill. Don't just go through the motions while you wait to roll.
  • Have goals! Know why you are doing everything that you do. Don't get trapped into rolling just for the sake of rolling. Roll to improve.
  • Drill down! If you plateau on your main goal break it down into smaller parts to look at and single one of those down to isolate and improve.
These things will help you make the best of your limited time and continue to improve, sometimes even better than people who are training more often.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

So many brown belts!

So due to my work schedule changing I'm now training in our evening classes. One nice thing about these classes is that there seem to be several brown belts in the 170-190lb range that I've been able to work with.  The best thing about this is that I don't AT ALL feel outclassed by these guys. A year ago when I got back to training rolling with brown belts still just felt like I couldn't bridge that gap between where I was and where they were, but my last half dozen rolls with brown belts I've felt very well matched against them.

I'm also seeing more of the path from where I am to what it takes to be a brown belt. I feel really good about my overall game and my skill level right now and I've got just about 6 weeks to get ready for Grapplemania where I hope to live up to where I feel like my skill level is now.

Monday, June 1, 2015

1 Year at the New Gym

So, today marks the 1 year anniversary of me training at my new gym. It's been an amazing place and I've loved training with the competition class which forces me to work hard and keeps me from slacking on my conditioning.

Unfortunately this also marks a change in my work schedule, so I will instead be training with the evening classes going forward. I dropped in on one and there seems to be plenty of very skilled people, including several brown belts, for me to work with so I'm not too worried about it. It was sad to say a kind of goodbye to the guys from the daytime class though.

But enough of that.I'm back to being able to bench press my bodyweight for a few reps, which is progress on that front, and I've gotten to roll with 5 different brownbelts in the last couple of weeks, none of whom I felt outclassed by. At this point I really do feel like getting my brown belt near the end of this year might not be entirely out of my reach. I just have to stick to getting in the gym regularly and keep working.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Competition Schedule for the rest of 2015


  • US Grappling Grapplemania - July 25
  • Newbreed - August 1st
  • US Grappling Greensboro - Nov 14
  • Newbreed - Dec 5th.



 I had wanted to wedge one more in, but it looks like 5 this year is all I can manage. Maybe I can wedge another one in there somewhere in september/october. We'll see.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Changing Gears

I haven't written anything in a while because all of my updates would look like this:


"Went to class, drilled some stuff, rolled, grindin' that mat time. Progress is good." and that would be it. So consider there to have been like 30 of those between the last update and this one.

Last week I hit the milestone for my defense that I've been working back to. Brown and black belts are having a hard time finishing submissions and keeping me in bad places. So I'm where I want to be with my defense.

This week I'm starting to work on switching gears, a lot. My complete focus is on moving from defense into offense, generating sweeps, insisting on top position, and then working to finish. I expect to have a lot of mixed success for a while with this, but I'm hoping that by the end of the year I will have my offense close to where my defense is.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Newbreed Writeup and Videos

It's been a few weeks since the event which has helped me get some perspective. This was definitely a blow to my confidence after being so successful at the last newbreed. This was pretty much the exact opposite. Instead of feeling strong, aggressive, and like I knew what I was doing I felt overpowered, slow, and clumsy.

For the videos just head over to the reddit thread I posted them on (Which resulted in about equal parts douchebaggery and excellent advice, which is my favorite kind of thread) and you can check them out there.

My first match I felt outmatched as soon as the guy gripped up with me. His grip was like a vice and I couldn't shake it to regrip before he pulled guard. From there I tried to pass over his leg and it just... didn't move. At all. At that point my brain shut down and I flailed around pointlessly before getting swept and playing defense for the rest of the round. One near sweep got stuffed when I couldn't get him to let go of my head, so he just stood up and ended up on top again. Total suck.


Second match was literally 5 seconds after the first one and was against an old training partner who has been wrestling forever. He's also STUPID strong. A quick single leg from him and then I just couldn't get a hold of him long enough to do anything, so back to playing defense the entire time.


The third match was like 3 hours later and I was tired. I was determined not to let my opponent pull guard, so I rushed my tomoe nage, resulting in a super shitty guard pull, which led to halfguard, then to getting bow and arrow choked.

I felt super shitty about my whole performance.



Post tournament I took some time off, both to let my neck recover from being yanked on, and because my wife got sick, then I got sick, so I didn't want to spread that evil at the gym. Getting back today I was very much focused on working harder, being more assertive again, and forcing my opponent to make mistakes. And it was working. I bullied all of the blue belts around pretty good, I was hitting my collar drags and my loop chokes, and generally doing a good job. Going to try to keep that moving until my next comp.

Also continuing to lift weights to see if I can get a little extra muscle added on.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

NewBreed results

I went 0-3 at New Breed and found that I am still just really bad at dealing with people who have really heavy pressure on top. I need to revisit that and my halfguard game under pressure and just work harder and be willing to use some muscle in class to help get used to that idea.

I'll post a full writeup and videos at some point this week, just wanted to get something written down to remind me.