New Years Resolution

It’s almost February but for me, it’s the start of the year.

In my work, January is a bit of a write off. There’s always the final bits of Christmas and New Years holidays. This year I got back to work just in time to head away for an 8 day camp where I was teaching. No time for BJJ. I got back from camp and spent the next week packing with my family so that we could move a week later. Then, we moved. After all that I really needed a week of recovery. So, it’s now the 29th of January, and I’m just now ready to get back into BJJ.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. However, I am a fan of resolutions in general. So, I’m going to make some for BJJ.

I’m a 3 stripe white belt and have 12 months of BJJ under my belt. Now, I feel like it’s time to really focus my training.

2012 BJJ Goals

#1-  Drill every day. This is my number 1 goal because I think it might be the most important. I started drilling a bit at the end of 2011 with a few others and found it to be fantastic for my game. Great fitness, great for getting techniques deep into you, great for simplifying your game (because you can only drill so many techniques, therefore you can only have so many techniques in your arsenal), and great for keeping that BJJ rhythm.

I plan to do this by grabbing the mats my coach is so graciously letting me borrow, finding some space, and planning an hour of drilling into my schedule.

#2 – Stretch for 30 minutes every day. This is my number 2 goal because flexibility is an amazing thing to have in BJJ. It’s also just great for the body.

#3- Take my nutrition very seriously. This is number 3 only because 1 and 2 were already taken. However, I see this as just as important as the previous ones.

My plan is to adjust my diet is simple. Less sugar and salt. More fresh, raw foods. More water. Easy, and vital to being able to perform.

#4- Create a solid gameplan. I want to think a lot more about my gameplan this year. There are so many hours of mat time I killed last year ‘just rolling’. Just rolling is fine, but there’s so much more to gain if the rolling has focus and direction. I’ll do this through a process.

Focus on a specific part of my gameplan during sparring.

Analyse the outcomes.

Adjust the gameplan.

I’ll be keeping track of my drills through a drill sheet. I’ll be checking off the days that I spend 30 minutes stretching. I’ll be keeping a log of what I eat and drink. And, I’ll be mapping out my gameplan and keeping a sparring journal.

Bring on 2012!

Natural Consequences

Another year gone by. Another year where I’ve successfully repeated my cycle of trying to get into shape, eat right, and be more productive.

Granted, every year get’s a little bit better. Every year I sleep a little less, eat a little better, work out a little bit more, and form other slightly better habits. I feel like I need to give myself a little pat on the back, especially considering that this year is probably the most flexible my shoulders have been in my young adult life… I can now actually pat myself on the back.

But, I’m still not where I want to be. I want to eat better. I want to be more fit. I also can now add ‘- Better BJJ technique’ to the list.

So, the battle against myself will continue into 2012. However, I feel like I’ve come to a bit of a landmark.

A few days ago I had my Gi with me in town. There was a seminar on that evening so I brought the thing in and was just going to stay in town. I was aware that there was a group that had a lunchtime roll during the week. I thought, while I had my Gi, I would head down for a bit of a workout.

I got there and was told that changed it from just an open mat sparring session into a drilling session. So, we did an hour of drills. For me, that was a good solid workout. I got back to the office and couldn’t bring myself to eat the big pasta lunch that I’d brought in. I grabbed a light sandwich from the bakery down the street. It was perfect.

That evening we had the seminar.

The next evening, on my usual night at home while my wife is at Pilates, I decided to get out the mats and run some more drills.

The next morning I woke up early and hit the mats again for some more drills.

Since that lunchtime roll I’ve stayed away from sugar and cut down my meal portions. Why? Because while my body is recovering from workouts it doesn’t want to have to digest heavy foods. It wants what it needs, and no more. It’s not a decision that I made. It’s my body saying, “Alright, that’s enough” whenever I eat.

I’m drinking a lot more water because I’m a lot more aware of the need for it.  Not that I’m sitting there thinking, “I should drink more water”. I’m simply applying logic to the reasons I feel thirsty. Because I’m drinking so much more water, I’m cutting down on all the other junk that I could be drinking, like coffee and coke.

I’m getting plenty of exercise because of the extra drills that I’m doing. Jiu-Jitsu is basically a non-stop core workout. Great for that six-pack that I’m trying to create. It’s a great cardio workout as well.

Which brings me to my lightbulb moment of the day.

There are things in life that you want to change. Many, many things. The key is to find the thing that triggers natural consequences. BJJ, and improving its practice through drilling has the natural consequences of better fitness, better eating habits, and drinking more water. Those things lead to being fresher during the day, sleeping better at night, and no longer constantly feeling bad for not exercising, eating right, and drinking enough water. 

Likewise, I’ve found out that a recently acquired passion for cooking has a natural consequence of making me do more dishes. That’s because I only like working in a clean kitchen.

Engaging in more theological (the study of God) discussions has made me have to learn more, which encourages me to read and study more.

We all have lists of things we want to be better at. Find the thing that triggers the natural consequences.

 

Visualisation

I have had the flu for a week, so haven’t been able to do any physical training. However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t done any training.

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.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.