With 2014 right around the corner, this is the time of year where many of us sit back and reflect. There might be some things that you have done really well but more than likely, with regards to your Jiu-jitsu, there are areas for improvement. So here I give you my list of the top 10 things you can do to improve your BJJ in 2014.
1) Train more.
I know this sounds overly obvious but still the question begs to be asked. Can you fit more training into your schedule? Maybe you can train for an hour in the morning before you go to work. Maybe you can slip in an additional hour one day in the evening. We all have busy schedules but the best way to get better is to simply fit more BJJ into your weekly schedule.
2) Pick someone to emulate.
You should be training as your instructor teaches you but in my years of training I have found that, for the most part, instructors generally teach techniques that THEY like. These techniques may or may not work as well for your particular body type. Pick up a copy of the latest BJJ Worlds DVD and watch YOUR weight division. You will probably see someone that has a similar body type as you and who might be doing techniques that you have a personal preference for. You don't have to pick someone in your weight division however. For example I used to watch a lot of Nino Schembri footage - not that we were the same weight but because we both have a preference for the omoplata.
3) Watch instructionals.
Maybe you have are already overwhelmed with the instruction you are getting at your academy. If so, this won't apply to you as much. By watching instructionals, you have the benefit of being able to pick a PARTICULAR aspect of your game to work on. At your academy, you're probably going to be stuck learning whatever your instructor wants to teach. Want to learn the darce? Then pick up Jeff Glover's Darcepedia! Want to learn the Reverse De La Riva? Then you're going to have to wait a bit, but Langhi's DVD is going to be awesome!
4) Work on your cardio.
Let's face it, we all get tired during BJJ. It's just a matter of how big your gas tank is. It can be difficult to find time for more BJJ but it's easy to find 5 or 10 minutes to work on cardio. It doesn't always have to be a 5 mile job. Maybe you can just sprint for 3 minutes. Every little bit helps.
5) Fix your diet.
Most all of us are guilty of this during the holidays. Now is the time to focus and plan to eat better in 2014. By improving your diet, you'll have more strength, cardio, and overall health to help you train hard. Want to look into the Gracie Diet? This book will teach you everything about it.
6) Become stronger.
I don't have time to go to the gym to lift weights. Well, I do, but I prefer to spend that time doing BJJ instead. Again, you don't need to spend an hour lifting weights. You might choose to do what I do and get a Kaizen kettlebell and spend less than 10 minutes getting a killer workout in the morning. I kid you not, I can wear myself out in LESS than 10 minutes with a 16kg kettlebell.
7) Train both gi & nogi.
I'm a firm believer in training both gi and nogi. Even if you don't like one or the other, try it, enjoy the frustration as frustration means there is a big learning potential. While they are very similar, they both teach in a different manner. Gi training involves technical gripping, methodical movement, and precise escapes. Nogi will teach you to use your weight more, to use explosive movements, and requires faster decision making. Both help each other.
8) Work on your weak points.
All of us have a natural preference for certain moves. In 2014, I challenge you to become a more well-rounded grappler. Start by writing down a list of the moves you HATE! Maybe they are certain submissions that you just can't get to work. Maybe it's a guard that you can't pass. Whatever it is, make a list of the things that you aren't good at. For one whole week work on techniques from that position. Maybe your mount escapes are bad. During sparring you can intentionally let your opponent mount you so you can work on your weak points. Don't worry about getting submitted, that's where the learning takes place!
9) Drill, drill, drill.
I can't state this enough. You don't learn a technique by watching your instructor do it and then you copy a few times. To really make the technique part of your muscle memory you need to drill it a lot. First try drilling with no resistance. Then add a little resistance. Finally you might try to work on ways to counter the resistance switching to another technique. The point is, you're not going to have a good chance of pulling off a new technique in sparring against a high level opponent if you haven't drilled it before. Need some drilling ideas? Pick up Andre Galvao's Drill to Win book!
Nothing brings clarity to your training like signing up for a competition does. After you sign up, you will start to feel the pressure as the tournament looms closer. This will make you train harder, more often, and with an increased focus. Win or lose, competition provides a huge learning opportunity. So what are you waiting for? Check out the IBJJF 2014 calendar and pick one out!
So there ya go. I hope some of these things can help make your 2014 even better than your 2013. Have any more tips to add? Feel free to list them in the comment section below!