The Fastest way to Improve in BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has one of the toughest learning curves in the world. Learning bjj is more difficult than learning to swim or ride a bicycle. Why is this? It is because there is no preconceived notion of how to grapple, with boxing, or karate, everyone knows how to punch or kick. Although people may not know how to box or do karate well, they have a preconceived notion of how to punch and kick.
In Jiu Jitsu, this does not happen. It is so unorthodox people have a hard timing improving. One of the best ways to improve your game at a faster pace is to develop your own game or system. You want to find comfort zones. This means you want to get good at maybe one or two guards, one or two submissions, and one or two passes initially to progress. Basically, you want to adopt the Bruce Lee philosophy “I fear the man who has practiced one kick ten thousand times, more than the man who has practiced ten thousand kicks once.”
Comfort Zone and Playing Guard
Playing guard can be one of, if not, the hardest things to learn in bjj. It is so unnatural to fight off your back and learn techniques. To establish a good guard, you want to find a guard you enjoy playing. All the best bjj athletes have “go to” games, meaning, places they’ve been more than their opponent.
Look at someone like Bernardo Faria, he is a 5x Black Belt World Champion and loves half guard and deep half guard. He has a simple game, and his opponents know what he wants to do and yet they still can’t prevent it. It is because he has been in half guard and deep half guard more than his opponents have passed half guard or deep half. It goes the same for Marcelo Garcia, he is an expert at X-guard and Single Leg X guard. Check out this video of Marcelo Garcia breaking down some butterfly guard principles below.
Comfort Zone and Submissions
You can apply the Bruce Lee philosophy to submission as well. Some people have some submissions that they are just amazing at. Look at examples like Kron Gracie and Marcelo Garcia. They are infamous for having incredible guillotines, even if people know that they want to guillotine them, their timing and entries are just amazing because they’ve guillotined thousands of people throughout their bjj journeys.
This is the mentality you should adopt as you progress. Maybe you want to master the kimura and you tell yourself you are only going to try and submit with the kimura. You will excel extremely fast and you will start to find kimuras in places you may not have before. You will have done the kimura more than your opponent has defended it. Check out our article “Kimura, a Position or Submission” if you want to work your kimura, also, check out this brabo choke from closed guard. You never know, maybe you will start to become the best brabo choker alive. If curious, see our instructional course The Brabo/Darce Evolution by Dave Porter.
Comfort Zone and Guard Passing
Once again, you want to adapt this Bruce Lee philosophy to all aspects of your game including passing. You should work one to two passes as your progress to master them and you will learn different reactions from them and develop a “passing game.” Check out our article on tenacious guard passing to read more on guard passing.
When you first start passing, pick a move like the leg drag or knee slice and tell yourself for three months you will only pass your opponent’s guard with these techniques. In three months, you will look back and be mesmerized by how well you understand these passes, and how good your passing has become. We have living examples of this philosophy, Bernardo Faria is infamous for his over under pass and he has mastered it, and the Mendes Brothers are infamous for their leg drags and although you know that they do leg drags or the over under, you can’t stop them. Check out this video below as a bonus on spider guard drills, maybe you will start to only work spider guard.
There is no easy way to get good at Jiu Jitsu, but there are training strategies you can implement to improve at a faster rate. You want to develop your game that way you have comfort zones. All the top level bjj competitors have a solid game that they like to play. Romulo Barral likes spider, Edwin Najmi does flying triangles, the Miyao Bro’s love the berimbolo, Marcelo Garcia love the X guards. There is a reason you see a pattern among the elite grapplers. If you want to improve your Jiu Jitsu and try and develop your game, check out Joe Lauzon’s DVD Set, “Ultimate Grappling Hacks.” This DVD set has a wide variety of move and will give you the opportunity to see different bjj and pick moves you like. After you pick the moves you like just keep working them!