Frustrated by lack of BJJ progress, need advice

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by farrellesque**, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. farrellesque**

    farrellesque** Banned Banned

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    I've been training BJJ 1-2 times a week for nearly 1.5 years now, and I essentially feel that I'm not using my potential. I can't pinpoint the exact problem, but I think part of it comes down to my application of technique.


    (Summar below for those who can't be bothered to read the entire thing)

    First of all, I'm 145 lbs and one of the lightest guys in class. Though I am strong for my size, I nevertheless have lots of problems with big guys. I can generally tap the big newbs, but once they get a few months under their belt it gets a lot harder. The problem is, I believe, twofold;

    1) I use too much strength during sparring which makes me tired and when I get tired a lot of the techniques I know go out the window

    Anyone else have this problem, and perhaps a solution?

    I realize "Stop using strength and focus on technique dumbass" is an obvious answer, but it appears to be easier said than done. My technique simply isn't smooth enough that I can sweep or submit guys effortlessly most of the time.


    2) The second problem is assimilating the techniques demonstrated in class into my BJJ reportoire. This is a HUGE problem for me. I forget a lot of the stuff that we learn so even when I find myself in a position where that technique would be applicable I don't seize the opportunity. I find it frustrating and infuriating. I'm a smart, analytical person, yet I can't seem to incorporate many techniques into my game. I get stuck in a mentality where my game is very predictable. I just have trouble varying the techniques and my game isn't evolving as a result.

    I would really appreciate any advice pertaining to my situation.

    Would it for instance be a good idea to focus on say, passing guard for several months? Then sweeps from guard, then subs from guard, subs from side control, escapes etc. Do most of the veterans here have a system of sorts, or do you just pick up things as you go along? I cannot emphasize how pissed I am at myself for not being able to use techniques in sparring that I learned literally 2 minutes ago.


    Summary:

    Small guy (5'10, 145), using to much strength, gassing, forgetting technique when gassed, also forgetting a lot of demonstrated techniques, predictable game, BJJ game not evolving. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck. Please provide solution and/or words of encouragement.
     
  2. Zankou

    Zankou Bringing peace and love Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    Good subject! Here are some of my suggestions. These help me a lot.

    (1) Give up the ego. Change your goals from "I want to sweep this guy" to "I want to execute the sweep attempt with all the details correct." Once you stop trying to succeed, and start focusing on performing the move correctly, you will become increasingly effective with it.
    (2) Always attempt the drilled move at least three times when rolling afterwards. Make this one of your highest priorities. It is especially easy if you roll with somebody you are better than. Counterpoint: If somebody you are rolling with tries the day's drill against you, do not fight back with full resistance. Give them resistance to make it feel realistic, but let them perform the move, even if it's a sub. This is how everybody learns.
    (3) Focus, focus, focus. You cannot expect to improve 35 different things at once. Pick 1 or 2 areas where you are going to focus improvement on, and stick to them like glue. Don't fight to win, roll to improve your skill. This may well mean foregoing taking the back or subs, or giving up position to work on an escape. Who cares. Do it.

    It's difficult to overcome the "fighting" mindset, but if you want to start incorporating more and more details, you have to do it -- let go of rolling to win in order to roll analytically.

    Finally, tho I hate to say it, training 1-2 times a week is not enough to progress rapidly past blue belt.
     
  3. FLMikeATT

    FLMikeATT Purple Belt

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    There is no real solution to a plateau. The only thing you can do is keep your head up and keep training.

    Rack up the mat time and work on your weakest areas and you should get over it in time.
     
  4. B3rserk3R

    B3rserk3R Brown Belt

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    This (as well as some of the other sage "grappling mindset" piueces of wisdom should be in a sticky.
     
  5. EndoG

    EndoG Blue Belt

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    Edit: nm
     
  6. farrellesque**

    farrellesque** Banned Banned

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    Very interesting. You just blew my mind a little actually. It hadn't occured to me to approach it like this, but this might just help both my problems at once.



    I've told myself to do this before but haven't followed through with it. I will try this from now on.



    Yup, and this goes back to point 1). I admit I probably have an ego on the mat. I'm not a jackass or anything, but I hate getting tapped/dominated and love it when I'm able to execute a move perfectly. I'll often use a disproportionate amount of time/effort/strength fighting of a submission attempt or whatever. Bad Farrellesque, bad!




    Would you say that you think about your moves or do they just flow naturally depending on what your opponent does?




    You're right and in an ideal world (one where the days were longer than 24 hours) I'd love to, but it comes down to priorites and I just don't have the time. Between Uni, work, lifting three times a week, playing soccer with buddies, spending time with friends and family and getting drunk and trying to get laid in the weekends, 2x a week is about the max I can swing.

    Anyways, thank you very much for your excellent post Zankou.
     
  7. SMillard

    SMillard Red Belt

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    In addition to what Zankou said:

    1. start a journal of techniques you learned, including commentary of how you did drilling it. Also log your rolling. One thing I find that helps is to note mistakes and or missed opportunities. You will start playing the matches in your head and eventually you will start playing your match in your head as you go.

    2. Drill your techniques more.

    3. Try rolling at half speed. When you learn to box or Muay Thai you don't go balls to the walls throwing shots. You develop your speed through smooth transition. Explain to your partner that you are trying to break the "muscling" habit, roll half speed for a round or two then proceed as normal for the last one or two.

    4. If you are only going to go to class twice a week, Get a grappling dummy or use an old duffle bag as in impromptu substitute and practice transition drills, this also works well with a Swiss ball (see youtube for examples)

    5. Practice your warmup drills such as shrimps, upas and such. The more smoothly you can do these the more instinctual they will become.

    If all else fails............steroids.
     
  8. STFUjiujitsu

    STFUjiujitsu Blue Belt

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    All answers are great pertaining to attitude.

    As far as technique staying with you, start making a training log or diary per say. After class write down every technique you worked on that night. Down to the slightest detail. ex. If you worked the hip heist, explain the exact spot your hand is when you throw your hips up and what your other hand is doing and why.

    Sometimes this takes time but then review them every week or so before you go to class. Or even better your in class rolling and later you think why didn't that triangle work. You read your notes and say oh my leg wasn't on the back of his neck it was more kinda on his shoulders.
     
  9. farrellesque**

    farrellesque** Banned Banned

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    Interesting idea. I actually used to keep a log (without commentary) but kept forgetting to write in it after class. Perhaps I'll bring it back. I actually do play a lot of my sparring matches in my head, and it's frustrating as hell to realize all the opportunities I had that I didn't use.

    OK.

    I like this, but I think I might feel a bit like a dick for "setting the pace of the roll" so to speak. If the guy doesn't want to roll 50% percent I can't really do much about it. I suppose most would be willing though.

    I've actually used my comforter a bit for this purpose. I need something heavier and less soft so I'll have to find something that fits the bill.

    Done. I try to practice some basic subs, sweeps and escapes at home. Will keep doing this.

    Nah, I'm satisfied with my Tyler Durden-esque physique :icon_chee
     
  10. Zankou

    Zankou Bringing peace and love Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    The amount I think depends on the skill of my opponent and the intensity of the roll. If I'm fighting in a tournament or rolling all-out, the thinking is minimal -- you are basically just rolling on gut instinct and your reactions. If I'm rolling against somebody substantially lower in experience or physical ability, however, then I often spend a lot of time thinking through my moves, since I have time to do that.

    As far as your limits on training time, everybody has different priorities and gets different things out of their training, so that's a totally personal thing. I think you can progress fairly smoothly up to middle blue belt or so training 1-2 times a week, but it will be very slow to go from there to purple belt, if it's even possible -- you could do it on a consistent, focused 2 times a week, but on 1-2 it's dodgy. But maybe that's not your goal ... physical fitness, self defense, fun, there's lots of things besides just belt progression.

    One thing I would suggest is finding somebody at class who is willing to run drills with you after class (or before class). This lets you drill focus areas, rather than just randomly working on whatever the prof is teaching, and it extends your training time.
     
  11. Chinaboxer

    Chinaboxer Blue Belt

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    here's what i do...right after class, i go home and find the move or moves that we practiced in class and look for an example on youtube. i look for a video with lots of detail and then save it in a folder that i label "my training" with the date.

    This way you have a visual example of your training and you can always refer back to it to keep it fresh in your memory.

    also find a training partner after class and drill your moves until you can remember all the details.
     
  12. idahofireman

    idahofireman Banned Banned

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    I had some of your muscling problems until one day I just decided that tapping guys out in my class was not the goal of my bjj, flowing better was. Now if I don't get something in 3 seconds, I let it go. If a guy sweeps me, I don't spazz and struggle, I work from the bottom postition he puts me in. I need work at every postition so it doesn't matter where I end up. And here comes the biggest thing, I tap a lot more. Sounds simple, but it really isn't. I don't care if the newest white belt taps me in a rnc, for example. I got to work on my rnc escape( it might not worked that time, but it will if I keep on it), and the new guy gets to work on his rnc and feel good about it. We all say leave the ego at the door, but really everyone of us still needs to truily let go. No one keeps track of taps in training. Tell yourself that I am going to tap out in rolling atleast 5 times. I'll put myself in postitions that demand great technique or I will have to tap. You'll get better. On the street or in a bar fight is not the time to lose. The dojo is the time to try stuff out. If you have to hit reset and start over do it.
     
  13. Oldguy

    Oldguy Blue Belt

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    I was the exact same as you. I trained twice a week and the progress was SLOW. The answer is simple.

    You have to train at least 4 times a week to see progress. It is just a numbers game and mat time issue. The more I train, the more I have to relax because I am so tired from the last time I trained. It forces you to use technique. It is also a momentum thing. At 1-2 times a week, you never get in a groove.

    The real good Brazilians train 6-7 times a week. It is continuous.
     
  14. King Creatine

    King Creatine Purple Belt

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    THANK YOU! Great idea. I'm going to do this from now on.


    Also, another great idea! :D
     
  15. JDV5811

    JDV5811 Purple Belt

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    everyone learns a bit differently and at different levels man. take it day by day and train at least 3 times a week.
     
  16. farrellesque**

    farrellesque** Banned Banned

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    Thanks to everyone for the good advice so far.
     
  17. SMillard

    SMillard Red Belt

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    To go deeper into the grappling dummy idea using a duffle bag.

    I use an old army duffel bag.....because I used to be in the army and have one. Basically turn it into a sandbag, see youtube for examples or do a Sherdog search for details.

    I like to use the sandbag for strength training, but one day i tied an old white belt on it and practiced some knee on belly transition. Then I realized a dead weight 100 lbs. sandbag is going to be as tough as just about any opponent to move around from my guard so I took it from there.

    Hope that helps a little.

    As far as the 50% rolling, if you explain it well your partner should be really cooperative. It will help him too. I a high school age rugby club and one of the best ways to teach them the game is have them play "walking rugby". They all think it's stupid and lame at first, then they realize how beneficial it is after we go live scrimmage.
     
  18. 350 lbs fist

    350 lbs fist Black Belt

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    Farrellesque?

    If you're the one I'm thinking of:

    Try and get a training buddy to come to the open mats just to roll with technique and no power.

    Slow rolls where both strive to do technical and not physical stuff embeds the techs better in your mind as you're not struggling in sidemount but actually rolling.

    And train more. You're pretty good ( if you're the one I'm thinking of ) but the smaller guys always get dominated the first couple of years until their superior technique takes over. Morten, the brownbelt, at our gym is only 3 kilos heavier than you and he dominates virtually everyone.
     
  19. farrellesque**

    farrellesque** Banned Banned

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    Yup, that would be me. :D

    Open mat is a good idea. I've only been a couple of times so far and found it quite useful. The only problem is that I'm generally pretty busy during the weekends so I don't always get the opportunity. I will try to make it more of a regular thing though.


    I know what you mean. Size (or lack thereof) really isn't an excuse. It just means you really have no choice but to work hard on technique whether you like it or not. Frustrating in the short run, for the best in the long run.
     
  20. codemonkey76

    codemonkey76 Black Belt

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    if you are happy with your tyler durden physique, why don't you switch the lifting for more BJJ???
     

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