GB Goals: Get Better At A Position

As Gracie Barra students are looking for a new year, it marks a fresh start symbolically.
It’s a great time to reflect on the successes and lessons of the past year. What did you learn that made the biggest difference in your Jiu-Jitsu in the past year? What really worked in your training? Recognize the training partners that you spent the most hours with and appreciate how working together pushed you both through obstacles,
When looking forward to the coming year of training here is an important question to ask: What didn’t go as well as you hoped and how can you adjust your training to improve in those areas.
I read a great quote from motivational speaker Tony RobbinsWhen we succeed we party when we fail, we ponder.” I think what Tony is saying is that we can look at things that didn’t go well and use that to analyze why and make a plan to fix it.
Here is an example that illustrates this idea. A brown belt I trained with said to me while sitting on the mats watching rolls “I need to improve my back attacks. I get to the back often enough, but I’m just not getting the finish as often as I think that I should. If you get the opponents back…it should be a kill. And now, for me, it isn’t.”
I thought about that simple statement. I was having much the same experience as he was. I knew back was the most dominant position on the ground, but I honestly didn’t feel as comfortable with a back mount as I did while inside mount. This had to change. What could I do to correct this problem?
I set some training goals on a focused effort to improve that part of my Jiu-Jitsu game. Now everyone says that they want to improve some particular part of their Jiu-Jitsu, but don’t necessarily know how they are going to go about it.
Here are some specific goals and things you can do to improve a certain aspect of your game.
1) Narrow your focus for 6 to 8 weeks. For that period of time, all of your video watching, drilling, strategy in rolling will be in that one position.
All roads lead to that position for you during this period of specialization.
Quite simply, you are going to have to spend the hours in THAT position in order to get better. Watching YouTube technique videos for 1 week is not going to do much to make a big difference in a position. But 6 to 8 weeks? You might well go up another belt level in skill on that 1 position with a narrow concentration of effort.
2) Specific training. There are a few ways you can adapt your rolling to maximize your learning in a specific position – let’s use back mount as our example.
Specific training where you start in the back mount and try to maintain the position and finish while your training partner tries to escape. When one of those objectives is met, you reset in the back mount and start again. You very likely do this in class for whatever position was covered that day. You can decide to do it on your own initiative if your partner agrees.
If there is one “secret” to improvement that many top-level black belts have to get good FAST…this is it.
Limiting yourself. This is particularly effective when training with lesser experienced belts. You ONLY allow yourself to get a submission from the back. Sure, you could just do the same old and probably get the submission with your A-Game triangle choke or side mount Kimura…but not for the next 6 to 8 weeks. You are ONLY allowed to finish from the back. This is going to force you to constantly look for the back in the roll, spend the most minutes holding the position and learn a lot about how your opponent is going to react defending in back mount. This is a new challenge for you.
When rolling with more experienced opponents, you are going to allow your back to be taken. Now instead of just trying to survive, escape and “win” the roll, you are going to pay attention. Really notice what your more experienced training partner is doing to control you. What grips are they using to prevent your escape? What do you feel from their hooks that is allowing them to stay connected to your back? How are they overcoming your defenses and getting the tap? What are they doing that makes you feel uncomfortable in the position?
After the roll ask your training partner what they were trying to do when you tried to escape? Why were they using a specific grip or being strong with a particular pressure? These details will be HUGE in your understanding of the back mount and you can add them to your own back game.
Apply these goal-oriented training ideas to a position in your own Jiu-Jitsu and level up your game in 2021!
See also: Gracie Barra Kids Jiu-jitsu with Prof. Bryan Waltz
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia