One Grappler's Secret Weapon

In the last newsletter we talked about what an arms race is, and how it can drive BJJ technique to higher levels. I also promised I would reveal a couple of secrets used by my training partners and I in our continuous struggles to get even the slightest advantage over the other person.

Since it’s my newsletter I’ll start by spilling Vlado’s beans first…

Vlado often plunks a small digital camcorder down at the side of the training area when he starts to roll. He then lets it record the whole sparring session.

Later, when the sparring is still fresh in his mind, he watches the action again at home. Here he simultaneously critiques his own performance and looks for holes in his sparring partner’s game. This doesn’t take as long as it sounds, because there is always the fast forward button to get past the boring sections and on to the interesting bits.

It is scary how effective this analysis method is for Vlado. Let’s say that I’m working on a new technique or variation of a technique. I might spend a month working on it and using it only on the lower belts at the club until I think I have it down. Then I unleash it on him, and sometimes – if I’m lucky – it may even work once or twice in that first session!

Then Vlado goes home and watches the tape. Usually by the next time we spar he’s figured out what my trick was, what he did wrong, and how to completely shut down my new move.

If you have the time, and especially if you’re a visual learner, then give video self-analysis of your sparring sessions some consideration.

As for me, maybe I should get in touch with some counter-intelligence people, and see if I can borrow a digital video jamming device. I’m sure the big spy agencies would understand the importance of my jiu-jitsu game to national security…

In the next article I talk about what I do to get even with Vlado and level the playing field a little bit…

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