There’s a saying in the British army that goes, ‘Proper Preparation and Planning Prevent Piss Poor Performance.’
This is called The Seven P’s, and it applies just as much to BJJ as it does to military matters.
The truth is that any great accomplishment, from winning a tournament to getting your black belt, requires a TON of preparation and planning.
Think of the training, the drilling, the sparring and the repetitions themselves as the PREPARATION part of achieving your goal…
And think of figuring out what exactly you need to train as the PLANNING.
There’s absolutely no doubt that hard work is important, but you need to direct that hard work intelligently for maximum benefit.
Here’s a silly example to illustrate what I’m talking about…
Let’s say that you train super hard twice a day, every single day. You put in thousands of reps and do round after round of targeted sparring. You leave it all on the mat every day, which is great.
But there’s just one teeny tiny problem – all you ever train is the armbar from guard.
Obviously your armbar from guard will be absolute killer. Anyone you get into your guard, even if it’s a skilled and savvy black belt, is going to be in severe danger of getting submitted.
But if the other guy pulls guard on you you’re screwed because you haven’t practiced any guard passing. Or if you get pinned you’re lost because you haven’t drilled any bottom escapes. And if the other guy attacks with a choke you’re going to tap because you don’t know how to defend.
You get the idea…
Training just one thing is like trying to win a bodybuilding contest by only doing the bench press.
You need to train hard but you need to also allocate that training intelligently. And that means pre-programming your mind and your body with instinctive, high percentage movements that hook together so that you have immediate answers to most of the situations you’re going to run into.
If we look at world class competitors in any combat sport, then only a small percentage of the moves and combinations they use are brand new.
The vast majority of what they do in competition is something they’ve already done a thousand times before in training.
If a competitor pulls off an amazing throw and follows it up with an immediate submission then chances are he’s practiced that combination before.
Or if he manages to cartwheel out of a deep armbar then he’s almost certainly studied, drilled and rehearsed that escape before.
Or if she reliably gets her preferred grips against a resisting opponent then she almost certainly has a coherent strategy, a system, for getting those grips.
So train hard – you won’t get good without sweat and struggle.
But you also want to find out what the best moves are and train them strategically so that you can link them together under pressure.
The time to figure out how to link your moves together is NOT in the match itself. You need to do that work long before you ever sign up for a competition.
Drill intelligently. Spar with a plan. Train coherent systems, not random moves.
Remember: Proper Preparation and Planning Prevent Piss Poor Performance.