What Should I Work On?

What Should I Work On? A student question to a black belt

Students of bjj must attend class regularly to be exposed to all of the techniques in bjj. The best professors do not teach random techniques every class, or only their favorite positions. They have a curriculum that systematically works through all of the positions and key techniques.

That said, each student has a role in their own learning and development. They will certainly gravitate towards certain positions or techniques that fit their body type and style of game.

A student’s level also determines what they should be concentrating on: obviously an advanced competitive purple belt preparing for a tournament has a different requirement than a 2nd month white belt!

Here are some ideas of what a student might work on in the early part of their bjj training

1) The techniques your instructor is teaching in class
10330517_871450049567636_984569562844320194_nIn fact I would say that apart from just showing up to class regularly, this is the single best piece of training advice for a new student!

Your instructor has a practiced eye to what level the students are at and what level of techniques best fit their current level of experience.

Obviously, a beginning student who does not yet know how to pass the closed guard will benefit little from drilling their omoplata entries.

The day will come when they are ready for such advanced submissions, but their precious training time is best allocated to the movements which will most quickly build their overall bjj game.

The student must have faith that their instructor knows the road ahead and can advise them on how to proceed with their training.

2) learning a move(s) for each of the major positions in bjj (ex. mount, rear mount, closed guard)
When the student finds themselves in any given ground position (top or bottom) they should be able to quickly identify where they are.

11146184_871450259567615_7246458946151761192_nThe Positional Hierarchy:
Rear mount
Knee on Belly
Side control
Half Mount
Guard Top / Guard Bottom
Turtle Top / Turtle Bottom
Half Guard Bottom
Side control Bottom
Knee on Belly Bottom
Mount Bottom
Rear mount Bottom

Do you know what you are trying to do when you encounter each of these ground positions?
What is the best submission from rear mount?
What is the “bread and butter” pass for closed guard?

You need to ask yourself “What are the most important techniques to master in each of these major positions?” and get drilling them to build a complete game.

3) Proper mechanics of the moves
18229_871420219570619_1227298838062915168_nThere is a big difference between the way a white belt executes a basic technique (like straight armlock from the mount) and the way a black belt executes the same technique.
The are significant difference in pressure, tightness, pressure, grip and weight placement.

A beginner might show you his armlock with 4 steps, while a black belt can show 10 more fine points for the same basic technique!
* tip, ask to try your technique on a higher belt so they can feel how tight your arm lock is and where the room for escape is. Ask for them to apply their armbar on you so you can FEEL details that may not be obvious to someone merely watching.

You can gain great information on mechanics from watching video, but there is no substitute for having a black belt instructor observe your technique and provide tips on how to do it with the proper mechanics.

Read also:3 Pieces of Advice for White Belts

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ

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