A New Student's Improvement

For all of the talk on how to “hack” your jiu-jitsu, how to pass the guard like a World Champion and secret positions and techniques one thing remains true. Training regularly and trying to apply the techniques that your instructor showed in rolling may not make a great headline on the cover of a jiu-jitsu magazine, but it is what really works!

I once interviewed the coach of a world class MMA gym about what it took to produce world champions. He said that it started with having great coaching. Giving the athletes and students access to the best technical training is key to their long term development. Having access to an experienced black belt instructor will give you the best technical training possible and forge a solid base.

You might have the best coaches in the world in your academy, but if you are not getting on the mat in class consistently 2-4 times per week, progress will be slow.


Now, if you put these 2 elements together over a period of time, the improvement can be dramatic! Add in a little extra physical conditioning to be at your peak, some great training partners and we have the conditions to get really good at jiu-jitsu!

If I were going to give an award for “Most Improved” student at the gym it would have to be one of the new students. This student started from no previous grappling experience but has decent physical conditioning from doing a little kick boxing before discovering jiu-jitsu.

Despite being bigger and stronger than most of the existing students, the smaller, more experienced guys would completely dominate him in the rolls and catch many different submissions. Such is the great thing about jiu-jitsu – smaller student who can defeat a larger opponent!

The new student continued to come to class and importantly : DRILLED the techniques that were taught in the class to build his game. A few months later he came up to me very excited.


“When I first used to roll with Johnny, he could do any submission he wanted to me! I could do nothing!”

“But the last time we rolled,..he could do nothing to me!”

I had observed the roll and saw that the new student now had some technical escapes from side mount and was not stuck underneath the pressure of a heavy opponent.

He didn’t leave his arms inside when trying to pass the guard only to be triangle choked.

He used the counter to the arm triangle choke and replaced the guard. And so on…

It is a great feeling to both feel and see the improvement in your jiu-jitsu!

see also : Gracie Barra Techniques: GB Techniques: Partner Drills

Credits: Mark Mullen 
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ