Today I want to talk about a very useful tool for intermediate and advanced-level grapplers.
The idea is to create study blocks where you focus on a single topic. During this time you basically take one aspect of grappling, and beat it to death with a large stick!
How long you do this for can vary, but typically it will range anywhere from one week to two months. It depends on a number of factors, including
- How narrow or focussed your topic is
- How many times a week you train
- How fast you learn
- Whether you have the self-discipline to focus on a topic for a lengthy time
Also it’s worth noting that some topics just inherently require a lot of more work than others.
Maintaining and attacking from the mount position – for example – is a pretty big topic. Two months of focussing on this this would be a pretty good start, but in some ways it would only be scratching the surface.
On the other hand, if your goal was to get better at finishing the armbar when your opponent is clasping his hands together, then that’s not a huge project. (It would, however, require you to find people to train this with you over and over).
For purposes of discussion, let’s pick a big topic. For example, let’s say that your goal is to get better at escaping from side mount.
So now what do you actually do during your side-mount-escape study block?
The most important change would be starting most, or all, of your sparring sessions trapped in side mount. When a new round begins, or if someone taps out, then you go back to the bottom of side mount and suffer some more.
On top of this you should also dedicate some time to repetition and drilling of the core techniques that you use to escape sidemount. Twenty, thirty, fifty repetitions per technique, per class. (But I’ll be the first to admit that finding a training partner to do this with isn’t easy…).
Additionally you should also be researching different techniques, concepts and details for the topic in question. You can acquire this information in many different ways, including:
- Asking your instructor what you’re doing wrong in that subject area, and suggest some techniques for you to use.
- Asking your sparring partners for feedback and suggestions
- Reading books on the topic (there’s been an explosion of good BJJ books recently).
- Watching instructional DVDs – there’s probably several on the topic you’re working on.
- Searching Youtube for instructional clips and/or footage of matches where your specific techniques were actually used by high level competitors.
- Posting your questions on internet forums, or just reading what other people have written on the topic.
Most of my own bread and butter techniques have come out of such periods of intensive study, so I know from first hand experience that this training method can have very real long-term benefits.
Give it a try!