I am a decently strong believer in visualisation. There are two main kinds that I use in my training.
Visualising a technique in the same way that I would drill it. Drilling creates the muscle memory, and shouldn’t be overlooked (which it is by the VAST majority of BJJ practitioners). Visualisation creates mental memory. You see, when I can’t drill something live, like when I’m on the train, at work, in the bathroom, on the plane, in the car, in bed, etc, etc, I just drill it in my mind. I go through the steps. I think about it so that it becomes something natural.
Then, when I get to live drilling it’s not about trying to remember. I can let my muscles do some work, feel the technique, and create the muscle memory. I don’t have to stop every step and think, “Alright… what’s the next step?” It’s already all in my head. As I drill, and feel the technique I can adjust my mental picture to work with what I’m feeling.
This leads me to my second kind of visualisation.
Because I don’t have to think about a technique while rolling, and I have drilled it enough to not have to worry about the feel, I can start thinking in depth about it.
If you study the games of the best BJJ practitioners in the world you will see that they have extremely deep games based on basic moves.
Marcelo Garcia is a great example. He has a dominant hooks sweep from butterfly guard.
Hooks sweep from Butterfly Guard is a great example of this depth concept. If you study his game you’ll realise that he’s taken one of the most basic sweeps in jiu-jitsu and turned it into a powerhouse. Here’s why:
Every technique has a counter. But, the glory of BJJ is that every counter has a counter. When you know a technique so well that you don’t have to put any thought into it you can start to see how people are countering the move. When you can recognise the counter, you can develop a way to counter the counter.
Garcia’s hook sweep from butterfly guard has an entire series of counters to counters. If you block by posting low with the leg he has a counter to that. If you block by posting high with the leg he has a counter. If you block by posting the arm, he counters that. If you block with posture, he counters. If you block with weight, he counters. He also has developed ways to force you into the posture needed to get the hook sweep. It’s amazing
It’s an example of one of the most basic moves in BJJ being turned into an unstoppable method of sweeping.
Watch the 2010 World Champs. Garcia wins the middleweight division with a hook sweep from butterfly. He’s produced books, and DVDs, and a web site laying out his ENTIRE game, and this basic move still can’t be stopped. Why? Because, he has given it depth.
Roger Gracie has the most devastating cross collar choke from mount in the world. Basic submission turned into a powerhouse through strategic thinking. He’s added depth.
So, in my study of the scissors sweep I have spent my sick week visualising variations, counters to counters, and set-ups from any position. I have focused on the depth of the move. The next time I roll I am going to try my set-up from being pinned in side control. I am going to try my counter to the common counters I’ve experienced. I am going to work on what I do when they won’t give me the grips I want. What I do when they’re postured well. What I do when they counter a counter. This will all be noted mentally, and visualised some more.
All of this has come from visualisation training. Just taking the time to think in depth about a move. I go from seeing a basic sweep from one position, with one set of grips, and one posture, into seeing an entire game plan.
It becomes this immense web of strategy and movement all based on one of the most basic techniques in BJJ.
This is possible because of time invested in visualisation.