- Show up consistently
- Be an active learner
- Embrace the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle
New students generally come into the gym with a variety of questions as they first begin to digest the complex nature of Jiu-Jitsu training. And there is no question asked more frequently or more readily than “What can I do to improve faster?”
As an instructor I often get this question, and I can see in the student’s eyes that they’re bracing for a complex answer. But there are actually very simple things you can do that will lead to swift, steady improvement. Here are three powerful strategies for improving your Jiu-Jitsu.
Show up consistently
Essentially there is no strategy that will matter if you do not create and stick to a training schedule. If you don’t show you won’t grow. If steady improvement were a formula, it would be as follows: Competence = consistency + focus. By making and sticking to a training schedule, you will begin to see surprising results in months, not years.
The great John Danaher once said that the Jiu-Jitsu you’re able to apply today is a combination of how you’ve been training over the last five months and the last five years. Sure, it may take five years to get to an advanced belt level, but that’s only half the equation. In five months you can make dramatic progress in skill acquisition and developing habits that help make you a highly effective grappler.
The trick is showing up consistently so that you can take maximum advantage of your academy’s curriculum and your allotted mat time.
Be an active learner
I’ve noticed that a lot of students come into the gym with the mindset of “I show up to class, coach gives me the information.” Unfortunately, this isn’t the way that it works. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience back in school where we sat through an entire semester of a class while learning little to nothing of substance, even daydreaming while the teacher taught the lessons.
Jiu-Jitsu is complex. To master it, you will need to take personal responsibility for your training. Show up to class with clear goals to work toward, and focus on the details when learning techniques. Make time for drilling. Try to incorporate the day’s technique into your rolls. This may lead to failure in the short term, but it will create mastery in the long term.
Seek out information outside the gym. One of the greatest advantages today’s Jiu-Jitsu student has is the endless technique videos and matches available online. If a problem presents itself to you in class, it’s always a good idea to ask your instructor for a solution first. But don’t be afraid to do your own research and seek out information on your own.
Watch matches to see how the best in the world deal with similar problems. Try to dissect their techniques to the best of your ability. If you don’t understand something, ask questions. In fact, question everything. All of this constitutes active learning and will turbo charge the speed at which you improve.
Embrace the jiu-jitsu lifestyle
Jiu-Jitsu is more than just a martial art. When practiced to its fullest potential, Jiu-Jitsu is a way of life. Training helps develop strategies for dealing with stress and overcoming obstacles, both on the mat and in professional and personal life. Jiu-Jitsu should make you a student of efficiency, and you can apply that efficiency and economy of movement to all aspects of your life to great effect.
Clean up your diet. Get proper rest. Be mindful of the thoughts that enter your mind and always steer them toward what is both positive and productive. In the process you will help train your mind to absorb lessons faster on the mat, and the combination of healthy mind and healthy body will provide the perfect base to maximize advancement.
You’re a martial artist now, take that as a call to be constantly improving in everything you do. Make training a part of your life, not just something you occasionally do.
Conclusion: more strategies for improving your jiu-jitsu
There are a host of other powerful strategies and tactics you can use to speed up your progression in Jiu-Jitsu, but if you can stick to the three simple strategies outlined above, you’ll be building yourself the best base possible to learn from. Show up, practice active learning, and embrace the lifestyle. Give it a try for six months and see how much you’re able to achieve. By then these will all become habits, and positive habits will surely lead to positive outcomes. Oss!