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Jiu Jitsu, Bruce Lee and “The Talent Code” Part 3

Jiu Jitsu, Bruce Lee and “The Talent Code” Part 3


The structure of repetitions…

Bruce Lee is famously quoted as saying, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times.” The idea of practice is a key component to success in anything in life. We have been examining Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code’s idea of deliberate practice as an exploration on how to get the most out of practice in relation to Jiu Jitsu.

In part one we explored the idea of getting the whole picture as a component of deliberate practice. We mentioned that watching high level competition footage would be one example of getting the whole picture. In part two, we talked about The Talent’s Code’s deliberate practice concepts: chunking, slowing it down and getting feedback. We then talked about possible applications for Jiu Jitsu. In our last article of this series, we will be looking at the structure of repetitions as described in The Talent Code and make application for Jiu Jitsu.

The last component of deliberate practice as described in The Talent Code is a high volume of repetitions with very dead gaps between rounds.  Coyle uses the Brazilian sport of futbol de salao. The rough translation futbol de salao is soccer in the room.  In the sport, the ball is smaller and heavier. The field is tiny in comparison to a traditional soccer field. However, the play is lighting fast. Because the game is played so much quicker than traditional soccer, players garnered a significant amount of repetitions. Naturally, these repetitions translated beautifully for the players in a game of traditional soccer. There are probably many applications to Jiu Jitsu. However, we will discuss three.

First, in rolling, the focus should be on getting as many reps as possible. There are times we tend to get very few repetitions in a roll because of our ego. Maybe we don’t want to get tapped out in front of the teacher.  Maybe we feel good if a higher belt only taps us out 1 time.  There are countless more examples of things that may prohibit our repetitions in the training room.  However, unlike a competition or self-defense setting, tapping out does not matter in the training room. It should not be the yard stick a roll is measured by.  The yard stick should be the repetitions itself. Consider someone who trains 3 times a week but gets 1 repetition per roll with 3 rolls a session.  That equates to 9 reps a week.  Compare that number to someone who trains the same 3 days a week with 3 rolls a day. However, this person is able to get 5 repetitions a roll. That certainly is a reasonable number for a 5 minute roll.  That person would have 45 repetitions per week. That is a huge difference at the end of one week.  Say both people train 48 weeks a year.  At the end of that year, the first person would have 432 repetitions completed. The second person would have 2,160 repetitions completed. The difference is astronomical at the end of even the first year.

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A second component of getting repetitions in may be drilling. Ben Askren has long been a critique of the Jiu Jitsu community for skipping positional drilling and going straight into rolling. We discussed this in a previous article here. Positional drilling allows a lot more reps than rolling often does. It is similar to playing on the smaller court of futbol de salao with the number of repetitions achieved with limited dead space between rounds. It also may be a great example of the chunking component that we discussed in the second part of this article.

A third application of the structure of repetitions may be in the time we use for rounds.  I would argue that a shorter round forces us to implement our strategy at a higher speed. If I am rolling for 5 minutes, I know I have more time for submission or whatever my goals are for the round. A shorter round requires me to execute my game plan at a much quicker pace. Certainly there is value to longer rounds.  There are days where the roll is great and I am surprised when we stop after 30 minutes. However, there should definitely be a goal in the length of the round.

I am interested to hear how you would apply The Talent Code’s lesson on structuring repetitions to Jiu Jitsu.

In these three articles we explored the components of deliberate practice: getting the whole picture, chunking, slowing it down, immediate feedback and high volume of reps without gaps. However, deliberate practice is just one component of talent as explored in Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code. He also explores the role of ignition, commitment and teachers. Perhaps we will explore those components in later articles.

Like most of us, my time on the mats is sacred. It is time away from family or work. I want to see the highest possible rate of return. Perhaps the lessons of deliberate practice from Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code will help achieve that goal.

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