Train Smarter, Not Harder
Train smarter to level up your BJJ and get a competitive advantage over your peers
Training hard has been subject to many discussions. It is widely accepted that if you want to improve, you have to train hard. We rarely hear that you should train smarter.
If I believe that putting the time to improve your craft is compulsory, I think training smart is far more critical and should be subject to many more studies. In this article, I want to give you my method of using flowcharts and how to train smarter. This is based on my experience (I’ve been teaching Martial Arts for 17 years), and I’m confident the method you’re about to learn is very efficient.
So without further ado, let’s dive into it.
THE MAIN PROBLEM WITH BJJ TRAINING
There are two types of training: the traditional class and the free class.
The traditional class goes this way: warmup, then the professor shows a series of moves, you drill that and then go for live training.
The free class is where you go to the gym and do what you want, which most of the time means randomly rolling.
I see the same problem in both cases, and this problem is the lack of purpose. What do I mean by that?
When we go into live training, we all tend to go in autopilot mode. We do what we feel comfortable with, and we stick to that. We don’t go outside our comfort zone, we don’t work on our weaknesses, and we certainly don’t improve much because we don’t focus on anything in particular. In other words, we’re wasting our time.
HOW TO DO IT BETTER
I suggest defining a theme for the next five training sessions and sticking to it. Why five? I found we have much better results this way because we build upon the previous sessions. I call that the building blocks principle. If you switch theme every session, you don’t grow on the momentum you created, and you’re wasting progress. It’s just more efficient to do five successive sessions on one theme than five times one session.
Let’s take an example. Let’s say you want to work on your passing this week. You open the Passing FlowChart.
Now you need to choose a specific branch because you can’t work on everything simultaneously. Let’s say you want to work on body locks. And this will be your point of focus for the next five sessions.
If it’s a free class, start by drilling the techniques for 20min, and then do 40min of specific training. You start on top, and you try to score body lock passes. If you succeed, you reset, and you begin again. And if you get swept or submitted, you start again.
If it’s a traditional class, here is the trick. Of course, you listen to the professor and drill what he just showed, but when comes live training, you work on your stuff, you work on body locks!
Why am I telling you to do that? The reason is, in most schools, you’ll see a different theme in each class. One day you see an armbar, the next day a pass, and then a sweep, etc… Remember the building blocks principle.
For years, I’ve been doing that even as a white belt. I was practicing this way, and I improved faster than my peers. I’m not more talented; I just train smarter.
That’s the secret, you take the flowchart, you choose a branch, and you work on it for five sessions.
But now, the pitfall. There is one pitfall you need to know and to avoid. This pitfall is your ego.
Let me show you a progression curve, and you will understand right away.
If you follow this method, your progression will look like this. You improve, then you plateau, and then, you get worse.
Why? That’s because you’re working on new stuff, and you’re out of your comfort zone. And it can be tricky because you might struggle against people you usually beat, and it can sting your ego. And that’s what you need to learn to deal with. Because that period of struggle will be the reason you go to the next level.
Don’t listen to your ego. Accept that you will struggle for a bit, and then it will take off.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR TRAINING
I like to separate short (1 month) and medium-term (6 months) goals.
Medium-term is for general improvement. Short-term is for fixing holes.
Choose 2 (or 3) systems on which you want to improve, and add the passing system (passing, as it’s 80% of the game, should always be worked on)
Assuming you do five sessions per week.
Start by a week of passing (one branch of the flowchart for the entire week)
Next week, move to a branch of another system (leg locks, for example)
Next, you change the system again (let’s say back attacks)
And then you start the cycle again, and you switch branches every time (the first time you work on passing, you do body locks, then half-butterfly, etc).
Here is an example of a five weeks plan.
After every session, take a few minutes to note the problems you encountered during live training (you got passed, you couldn’t escape a pin, you didn’t know how to defend this attack).
Once you have identified the issue, do some research (on the flowcharts, ask a higher belt) and then practice with visualization.
That will be the subject of another article, as it’s a deep subject.
In a nutshell, you imagine you performing the move several times in your head, and you try to imagine the physical sensations you would have if you played the move.
That way, you will respond next time you face the same problem, and you can keep on track with your medium-term goal.
We talked about the lack of purpose during training. We saw how to use the flowcharts to beat this problem and use the building blocks principle to your advantage.
We discussed the pitfall of this method (ego), and we saw how to plan your training sessions for short and medium-term goals.
By doing this, I guarantee you will see great results. All you have to do is to stick to it!
If you have any questions, requests, suggestions, or if you wanna chat, send me an email or a message on Instagram @maxigarami, and I’ll be more than happy to talk with you and to hear your feedback.