Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How To Improve My Game?

Yesterday I had my butt kicked by 2 different blue belts multiple times. So I have been pondering how to improve my game and found this article. It outlines 20 ways to improve your grappling game and I paraphrased and summarized the parts important to me:
  1. Open your ears and listen - It doesn't matter whether the student is a blue-, white-belt, or someone who's never fought: the moment they show your something, shut your mouth and pay attention. Even if the move is not efficient, the concept might help your play. When you don't allow yourself to accept any other form of knowledge, you become limited.
  2. Always believe in the move - To make the move work, you have to believe it will work. It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side, because there lies the difference between winner and loser. The winner is never intimidated. Carlson Gracie’s black-belt’s advice is based on three elements: stamina, attitude and will to win.
  3.  Practice an outdoor sport - Soccer, jogging, outdoor work out – there’s always a healthy activity waiting for the athlete who takes off the gi after hours of grappling in the academy. This strategy keeps the body in shape without making the fighter stressed from the training routine.
  4. Repeat the moves over and over - In judo, the athlete makes 1,000 takedowns on every session. It’s sad to see that in the Jiu-Jitsu milieu people think it’s a waste of time. One should pay attention to the positions, from the white all the way to the black belt. Usually, the most technical player gets the advantage, is to repeat the positions. Everybody does that in boxing, judo, but in Jiu-Jitsu the guys are a little lazy.
  5. Set goals - Setting goals helps in the evaluation and control of what is being produced in the training. The idea is that the fighter define what he wants. Afterwards, find ways to get there, and a time necessary to reach it. Black-belt Vitor Shaolin warns his students about this up to this day: “You must set up your training in such a way that you define what are the two most important competitions for you to be in that year. No matter how much you try it, you can never be 100% in all tournaments,” he guarantees. “Then you must establish the rules: ‘I want to be well in the Brazilian and World championships.’ And prepare to place well only in these tournaments, not minding whatever you win or lose in the rest of the competitions. The body is not a machine and cannot remain on a level 8 or 9 all the time, be it in Jiu-Jitsu or MMA, which is the Triathlon of fighting,” the Shooto champion concludes. 
  6. Be dynamic -  Jiu-Jitsu is like chess: you only move a piece thinking of the next move. An attacking position during the fight must always be connected to other future positions whose objective is the submission. The attack-trainings should be made in a logical progression. For instance: a takedown leads to a guard-pass, which in its turn leads us to a mount, which leads to a choke. The combinations are infinite; what matters is that your game be not static. Keep moving.
  7. You are an athlete, not a weight-lifter - Don’t need a superathlete’s body for BJJ. The secret lies, above all, in training to ally technique and good conditioning. If you train Jiu-Jitsu, you ought to work out, but not make a monstrous physical preparation. If you fight MMA or wrestling, you might need such a body. However, in Jiu-Jitsu, physical preparation is not all: one must work to become a technical and conditional athlete.
  8. Strengthen your grip - Especially important for gi BJJ.
  9. Strive to be complete -  What good is it to get an A+ in guard-passing but flunk attack-from-the-back? To stand out in Jiu-Jitsu, the fighter can’t excel at one or two moves.
  10. Posture is everything - Whether on the mat or with the dumb-bells, always pay attention to your posture. That is the most important, both if you are trying pass a guard or lifting tremendous weight. Without the adequate posture you don’t spare moves, you worsen the strike’s execution and augment the health hazards – or loss hazards.
  11. Learn from defeat - Use defeats (preferably in practices, of course) to reflect on what can be done better. “I’m convinced that everybody who submits all of their opponents in the trainings is actually learning nothing,” says Leo Vieria. There’s no such thing as winning and losing, but only winning and learning,” says Renzo’s and Ricardo Cachorrao’s trainer. Leo Vieira calls the attention to the fact that the losses out of the mats are just as fundamental to form a champion, above all in what concerns character.
  12. Look for the best version of the move for you - If you don’t get along with a certain move, try to perfect it, adapt it to your physical and technical traits, always searching new versions for it. That’s what makes Jiu-Jitsu evolve continuously.
  13. The best defensive is offensive -  Always try to attack. While on the offensive, the opponent can think of nothing but defending, that is, you are protected. Marcelo Garcia also realized that, by being the first to attack, he would make his opponents abandon their former plan. If he prolonged the blitz, Marcelo also prolonged this “untouchable” state. “Climbing stairs and ramps is the best option for an amazing guard,” he reveals.
  14. Don't forget to enhance your defense -  Rillion Gracie stresses the importance of training submission-escapes (remembering that the other guy may attack first). “Look at Roger Gracie’s performances in the last World Championship. He suffered fulminating attacks right in the beginning of the battles but was able to defend like a master to then counter-attack,” Rillion recalls. The Gracie Leblon Master says that, while practising defense, the competitor learns exactly what the opponent feels like in situations of adversity. “Learning defense improves the attack. I f the lion knows how the prey can escape, it’ll capture it in a much more precise way,” he ponders. To practise defense in Jiu-Jitsu, Rillion advises the reader into forgetting s/he is strong. “Exercise your patience. Use the weight and the force of the levers,” he explains. “Start practising defense as soon as possible, to awake just as soon the survival instinct in your fighter’s soul.”
  15. Stretch - According to “Elvis,” stretching is vital even for improving the guard. “What I realize in competitions, even black-belts’, is that everybody gets along well on top, but not everyone can keep a good guard.
  16. Develop self-knowledge - Competition-Jiu-Jitsu is so leveled nowadays that the small details can make the difference in the fight’s result. “I advise my students to talk to themselves. Self-evaluation makes the athlete know himself better, finding out his true virtues and weaknesses. He starts being conscious of his own instincts, develops self-confidence and doesn’t chiken out. Thus the athlete can design an ideal fighting plan,” Fabio Gurgel analyses.
  17. Simulate hindrance and escapes - To simulate fights where the opponent neither tries to pass nor to submit; to fight against a technical sparring – or one who runs away. In order to learn how to get out of the tough situations, Marcelo Garcia indicates: the good thing is to practice guard with heavier mates.
  18. Be creative -  Jean Jacques Machado likes to awake his students’ creativity. On these moments he shows the classroom a move, asks the students to study it and to present a defense a week later. “There are many ways to get to a goal. I like my pupils to use their creativity and find out new ways to get there,” he evaluates. In other words, Jean doesn’t make his apprentices “move repeaters.” By disseminating experimentalism in his lessons, the black-bellt gives birth to classrooms full of creative and innovating athletes.
  19. Training consistency - there’s nothing more important than regularity. Not vanishing from the academy is, therefore, essential for the athlete’s evolution – s/he must avoid substituting wasted weeks with overtraining periods. The fact that you keep training, the body gets used to the effort you make. "It was after I began resuming and quitting that I began to have injuries often," said Pe de Pano.
  20. Respect and reflect - Respect and dedication are utterly necessary to Ricardo de la Riva. “The idea is to arrive with an open mind and to practise with pleasure, and not to simply want to win in the training. You must respect, above all, not only the dojo and the professor, but also your practice-mate, after all you need him/her,” says the master. As the American trainer explains, the time to bow is a great opportunity to concentrate. The bow is the moment when the practice begins, so any negative thought or attitude must be left aside – or out of the academy. “A salutation at the end of the practice enables the athlete to go back to his normal life,” he says. “Develop, therefore, a strong mental connection so that your mind is activated by the bow in the beginning. Just as in any sport, if your head is not ready to practise, it’s impossible to learn anything,” Martin Rooney concludes.

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