One of the most common questions that I am asked by students is “what should I work on”? And while on the surface it seems like a great question, a lot of times it can be frustrating for a coach to hear… Especially if the student isn’t putting in the work in Jiu Jitsu class to start with!
As you progress in BJJ, you start to realise that it is less about learning more new moves and more about refining and having a really deep understanding of a few key moves from each position. I know, for me I would rather learn a small technical refinement on a knee cut pass than learn a crazy new rolling sacrifice guard pass that comes up in a leg drag position! Not necessarily a bad move but just less valuable for me as it may not suit my body type and also as a coach, it doesn’t scale well for a large percentage of my students.
As far as I am concerned, you can’t go past the basics! Great basics win in all sports and in Martial Arts too, especially Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Am I saying that you shouldn’t be exposed to and learn new positions? No I am not! I am just saying that I would rather see a student delve deeper into what they already know. Develop what I like to call “advanced basics“. Now how do I define “advanced basics“? Well, I am glad you asked! “Advanced basics” is a deep understanding of how a move works, where does it fit into your game , why and how does the move work as well as when is the best time to use the move! To truly understand “advanced basics“, you will see that you need to do more than just execute a technique technically correct, you must own it, understand the timing and how it fits into your overall game, strategy and tactics! In addition to this you need to know the key principles that allow you to replicate it successfully time and time again against a skilled and resisting opponent.
Now how does all this tie back to the question of what to work on in Jiu Jitsu? Well for starters, how well do you pay attention to your coach demonstrating a technique in class? Did you grasp the fundamental mechanics of it? How many reps have you done of it both slow and technical, and then with varied resistance? How is your memory and execution of the last technique you learnt in class? Australian BJJ pioneer and legend John Will asks the great question, “Would you be happy with the version that you have for the rest of your life?” If not, then clearly you have some work to do on techniques that you believe you already know! As do I! 🙂
I really feel that I have learnt more about Jiu Jitsu since getting my black belt than I did in the previous five years!!! And I feel that I am not alone in saying that either… I am sure that if you ask most Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts, they will tell you exactly the same thing!
So what do you need to work on? In short, everything! But the real question I have for you is are you willing to put in the work? Are you willing to delve deep and really immerse yourself in the techniques, movements and the art? If you answered yes, and are truly honest with your answer then I am sure most Jiu Jitsu coaches would love to help you! For a BJJ coach it is a great feeling to see a student hungry to learn, who listens attentively and studies… And when we coaches see that in a student, it really inspires us to take extra time to analyse your game, help you succeed and give you some direction in your journey towards mastery of the art!