James has started posting some of his thoughts about the mindset required to train effectively in jiu jitsu. You can read them on the Academy’s Facebook page.
I chatted to James about taking these mindset moments and expanding to give us a better understanding of the mindset and how to acheive it. To do this I thought about where I struggle with the acheiving the right mindset and asked him a few questions accordingly.
“Mindset Moment 1, the 200 principle – the 200 principle says that when you learn a technique, whether it’s an escape, submission, makes no difference, it takes 200 attempts. Some will be successful, some not and some nearly, before you manage to get it right every time.
To make this easier start with easy opponents and as you get it right work to the harder ones. This way every time I get submitted when I’m trying a new escape I can count another one off towards the 200.”
Q: When I spar I find that I spend more time trying to defend attacks that being able to perform a technique, so it takes me ages to reach my 200. How can I spar more effectively to achieve this ?
A: Firstly, I think you should look at defending as practicing your technique. I know sometimes it seems like you are just running, try to use technique. The other thing is to remember that in Jiu Jitsu there is a food chain. So you should try and choose the techniques you want to practice based on your sparring partner. i.e and to use something Rener wrote recently – if you are rolling with someone who is better then you, practice your defence. If they are the same level and weight, practice your A game and if they are not as good as you practice your attacks. If you are better than
your opponent, you should also enable them to try their attacks though. This way you will get to practice your defence on someone who is not quite as sharp on their attack. This helps you build the skills in an easier way.
If Gary and I are working on a new technique we don’t go straight off and try it on our best students. We try it on our newest students first and the better we get at it the better the student we try it on.
Q: I don’t have the opportunity to drill techniques besides when I come to class, are their any suggestions you have to practice techniques without a partner at home ?
A: For sure, two ways. One (and you may want to do this in private) if I am going to practice my Upa Escape. Find some floor space, and just go through the steps as if you had a partner. Obviously this will not work on some techniques, but the repetition works great for others. Second is to just
visualise it. They showed some years ago that visualisation can work nearly as well as physical practice. The clearer you can visualise it the better the effect. Gary and I used to go into the Gracie Academy and just drill either on our own or together. One day we were just drilling quietly on our
own and noticed Helio stood in the doorway. No idea how long he had been there but it was a cool experience. Who knows what can happen when you just drill stuff 🙂
Q: Often when I am sparring I can’t think of what technique to do in a given situation and I get submitted. What can I do differently so I can learn from the position/submission?
A: Hmmm I’m not sure you have to do anything differently, in my experience it’s as simple as mat time. Most of the time you probably do know the escape or defence it’s just that you can’t think of it quick enough to be able to defend. Why? Because your opponent is ahead of you on the curve. His action started before your reaction. Does this mean you will always get submitted?? No, it just means that until you can recognise the indicator for his action earlier, you will. But don’t take that as being bad, it’s just what it is. I hear people say to Gary and I “but you knew what I was going to do before I did it” it’s not that we are mind readers……promise! It’s just that we have been submitted so many times or been in that position so many times, that we can recognise the initiation of your movement as you do it and therefore get ahead of the curve. So roll more, get tapped more and look at each time you get tapped as not another loss but as another one of the count down until you can, not get tapped by that move with that set up again.
Q: I don’t want to get submitted when I spar, as this obviously shows that I am bad at Jiu-Jitsu, so I am going to do everything I can not to be submitted. Is this the right way to train?
A: I understand your desire to not get submitted, it makes sense. If I am rolling surely I am there to win so how can it be good to be submitted? This is a common mindset.
In short, if you want to progress you have to get submitted. Let me ask a couple of questions back.
1, Does being submitted show that you are bad a Jiu Jitsu, or does it show you were trying something new and just didn’t get it quite right?
2, If you never get into positions where there is a chance you could get submitted, how will ever get to really test your defence?
If you never test your defence you will never learn and then in street or tourney if you get in to a bad place you will not be able to get out. The time to get submitted is when you are training with your buddies in the academy not in the street!
The funny things is, the techniques we seem to get submitted by most in the really stages are the ones when never get submitted by later. I used to get caught by one guy at the Gracie Academy all the time by Kimura from side mount, it was his move and he got everyone with it, and when I say all the time I mean ALL the time. Then after about the millionth time (I exaggerate), I got the defence down and he nor anyone else caught me with the same set up and submission again.
If i could travel the world, rolling with all the guys who had specialities until i could defend it, then move to the next I would. Braulio for his Triangles, Ryron for his armbars, Rener for his foot locks, Roger for his chokes from topmount, Marcelo for his rear naked chokes etc etc. Imagine after all that and being able to defend all of their best moves, how good I would be a Jiu Jitsu!
Now, getting submitted doesn’t mean just lie there and let someone choke you out. What it does mean, is get underneath, try your defence, if you get caught try again, if you defend it leave it a little closer to the finalisation next time and try again. Get caught….good! It means you found a hole in your defence. Try again. Here’s a thing, Gary and I get tapped by some of our beginner students, Why? Is it because they are so amazing they can tap us. No, it’s because we leave defending the submission sooooo late to test ourselves that sometimes we get caught. It’s fine…..try again 🙂