Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Universal BJJ Rule

It is almost universally agreed that practicing moves, repeating moves, drilling, position training, or whatever you call training on your own time outside of rolling helps you the most in getting better at BJJ. So if this is universally agreed that practice and repeating moves helps you more than anything else, why is it done so little? Why do we roll so much more than practice on our free time? Ask any instructor or student for that matter and they will tell you to drill to get better. So why do so few people practice what they preach, or even encourage what they preach?

Even in every other activity, game or sport, very little is spent actually playing the game but more practicing. In basketball, people are known for all the time they spend shooting the ball on their own, and in their team practices, its a lot of skill drills. Same with football where actual practice games takes up very little of the time overall, especially off season where there is no actual game play. In chess, ping pong, golf, professional paint ball, very little emphasis is placed on actually playing a game. The playing of the game becomes the expression of your practice, your practice becomes the expression of your art.

The idea of just rolling to get better, is the same as trying to get better accidentally.

So in BJJ unlike so many other high level games and sports, is the most time spent on rolling and not on practice? I can't even think of another high level activity that does this. Even boxing, wrestling, and muay thai, the least amount of time is spent on the sparring. Even in Judo. This only happens in BJJ, even though everyone agrees its the least efficient way to get better.

But people also love that with BJJ you can spar and spar and go very hard, and theoretically not get hurt. Yeah that's fun. Getting good is fun too.

To become a great painter, you practice your stroke over and over. You don't just go start painting portraits and hope to accidentally get better at it as you go.


  1. One of your better posts. You are becoming more efficient.

  2. I disagree. I think sparring is an excellent way to get better. You don't learn any new moves, but your mind and body grow more attuned to what works and what doesn't. Drilling and practicing moves are indispensable, don't get me wrong, but they're just preparation for learning to apply the moves against full resistance, just as you would in a competition or street fight. Sparring lets you learn to do just that. It's common sense that doing something over and over again gets you better at it. If you paint tons of portraits, as long as you try your best each time, you will get better at painting portraits - not "accidentally", but by gaining experience.

  3. You will get better from sparring. This is true. But I think it is not the most efficient use of your time. You 100% need it, but the roll becomes an accomplishment of what you've been practicing. The sparring becomes a culmination of all your practice. Like even if you paint many portraits, let's say 1,000 in your life, it's still only 1,000. Whereas you practiced painting every day 365 days a year for your whole life. Great writers write every day, but only have so many books. I think when you practice more, the times you do roll, the quality of your roll becomes better. Like a masterpiece. Instead of just your average daily roll.



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