Thursday, April 7, 2011

Goal Oriented In BJJ Leads To Sloppy Form

* Edit - In hindsight, instead of saying goal oriented, I should have said, outcome oriented.

People tend to think that being goal oriented is a good thing. I disagree. The ends do not justify the means. Let's say I was writing a book and all I cared about was getting to the end of the book, getting to the conclusion. Then the whole book will be junk. Same with movies, the makers had a really killer ending in mind that they forgot about the actual movie, or 2/3s of it anyway.

My motto is not, ends justify the means. My motto is, live by form, die by form. Meaning whether you are going to succeed or fail, make sure you do it well. I can give an example of lifting weights. Sometimes I see a person lifting weights, and they are just trying to get the weight over their head, they will risk injury to try to get to their goal and their form never gets better over time. People who focus on form, may not get the weight over their head on the first try but will eventually and every time. When you focus on form, the results takes care of itself.

When I teach kettlebells, there is a proper way to pick up the bell and a proper way to set it down. Whenever I tell my people to set the kettlebell down, a lot of them just think about the task, the goal at hand, setting it down, and will set it down at any part of the swing, which is quite dangerous. I have to be careful when I tell them to set it down, because as soon as the words come out of my mouth, no matter where in the movement they are, they will stop what they are doing and just try to set it down. Which is very dangerous, but they just are focusing on my command, the end result, the goal. When you focus on the form and swing through all the way, the kettlebell will find it's own way down.

In Jiu Jitsu, same goes as well. You see people "dive" as they say for submissions. They are just focused on the goal, winning, submitting. They may mow down lower belts who also just want to win, but at higher belts guys like these hardly succeed. It's like in tennis, the worst players are the people who try to hit winners every time. Sometimes you have to just rally and grind it out for a while and try to make your footwork and swings as perfect as you can, until they make a mistake because they tried to hit a winner. A poor strategy. Same in business, I just want to start a business, I don't go about writing and researching a proper business plan, so I finally start my business, but like everyone else, my business becomes one of the 90% that fails in a year. Imagine a football game where both sides just tried hail mary type throws. It would be very poor planning and foresight. Yet somehow that is acceptable in BJJ. Is BJJ that far behind the rest of sports as far as strategy? If people call BJJ human chess, then most players may be at a preschool level of the game.

So what happens? The people who only focus on the finish, the goal, are the ones who people call spazzes. They are aimlessly going for a goal they cannot yet see, so it becomes sloppy, they end up kicking you in the face, and try to tear your arm off. Or it's just a general sense of sloppiness because they have no foresight.

When you are rolling, if you focus on form, making no mistakes, no man can hold you down. No one will escape your mount. No one will stop your choke. Miyamoto Musashi has killed more people in a sword duel than anyone else in history. The mistake people always made against him is, they focused on killing him. He focused on swinging his blade with the most perfect technique. That is called mastery. There is a story of a tea master who's form in the art of tea making was so perfect, a samurai who was supposed to kill him bowed to him and called him his master.

If you focus on good gripping, good takedowns, good passing, good mounting, good choking, and never think about the finish, the finish will come find you. It's not about the goal, it's about the form. I had a famous actor tell me something recently. I was telling him how I had friends who wanted to be at his level of success, who were striving actors. He asked me one thing, do they act? I said no, they work. I told him they had a hard time finding acting jobs that paid so they didn't want to do those, or pay for acting classes or work shops, or give up their weekends or work time for something not guaranteed. The actor told me, actors act, they shouldn't care about the fame or rich part. He asked me what do they want to be, an actor or a famous person? If an actor, they should just be acting, as often as they come and not worry about the money or what not. Fame will come because they are an actor that works, a lot.

If you adopt all the habits of good BJJ players, one day someone will point out that you have become a really good BJJ player. Same in life, you adopt the habits of successful people, and you become successful. The proper means, will bring about the proper end.


  1. This is a great post, very well done. I agree with you 100%. It seems that a lot of times a simple roll turns into a tournament match, when all both parties need to do is slow down and work on what comes in front of them. Very well done!

  2. Thanks man. Being a teacher, working with kids, and being a bit wiser, I am sure you can appreciate these sorts of ideas.

  3. Great post dude. It just reaffirms everything I'm striving for as a white belt. I keep getting smashed by bigger partners and higher belts, but I know that by maintaining form I'll eventually build a solid foundation.

  4. Yes exactly. They may win initially but in the long run your technique will be hard to beat.

  5. @Arthur,

    There in lies the beauty of being a white belt, my most cherished years training. Getting smashed and tapped out all the time taught me one thing.... Defense. As a white belt I was probably submitted 1000 times, and I got the submission maybe 5. Stay solid in what you do and focus on your technique and getting it right, stay true to what you are being taught and always trust your instructor. If you get smashed or tapped then you get smashed or tapped, it's really no big deal. Whenever you get a chance to roll with a higher ranking belt ask them what you need to work on rather then what you did right.

  6. Great post dude. I too feel and act in the sameway as you do, but, I sometime feel I am procrastinating my work, If I am not goal oriented. Will you please tell what could be the reason of it?

  7. Maybe then instead of having a goal like, I need to beat everyone I roll with, or not lose to anyone. You can go for mastery, like I want to rep this move out at least 500 times this week. I want to get better at standing up from bottom. I want to break down and figure out how to make my collar choke work better and better and better.



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