BJJ: How to “Win” at the Gym Every Time

What are your objectives when you train?  Do you obsess over tapping out the people you’re “supposed” to beat at the gym, or do you train with a deeper purpose?  This article will give you some insight into how to walk away from your training with a win every time.

Keep in mind that there is no “magic bullet” for becoming good at BJJ overnight.  You’ll have to sacrifice years of time, money, comfort, and much more in order to even get an overview, but what you can do is maximize the time you have while you’re on the mat in order to learn the most while training, and ultimately, to improve quicker.

  • First and foremost, the goal of training is to learn…

…not to win.  Now, I know what you’re thinking:  come on.  What separates BJJ from other martial arts is that you can actually try to execute the techniques you’re learning at near 100% intensity, therefore genuinely learning that the techniques work, and therefore gaining confidence in the movements.   While this is certainly an accurate statement, there is more to BJJ training than simply practicing movements you already know in order to defeat someone.  In fact, there is much, much more to it than just that.  Read “Rock or Water:  a BJJ Player’s Guide” for more insight on this subject, and keep in mind that you will need to flow in order to figure things out for yourself, to see transitions your instructor has been telling you about all along, and- arguably, most importantly- to allow your partner to do the same with you.

  • Be a partner, not an opponent

While you’re certainly not there to give your rolling partner a false sense of jiu jitsu security, you are most definitely not there to grab his or her leg and stay in place for five minutes until it’s time to switch partners.  Since the goal of training is to learn, not to win,  you should feel liberated when you train:  liberated to help your partner figure out what he or she is trying to accomplish, liberated to work from a bad position if that’s what you need to do, liberated to allow your ego to be defeated in the name of improving your technical ability.

  • Always train with an objective in mind

Whether you want to improve your open guard, work on escaping the rear naked choke, or simply stay on top- that should be your ultimate goal when you roll, not tapping your partner out.  Again, you’re not supposed to be a limp sack of flour for your partner either, but if you try to accomplish a specific goal, as a consequence you are going to learn a great deal more than by simply “fighting.”

Ultimately, it’s up to you to enact these tips.  While ego is a powerful and important mechanism for self-preservation, you have to realize that rolling at the gym is far from a competition or fight.  Watch the best jiu jitsu practitioners train and you’ll notice these themes persisting throughout their training, and realize that you, too, can improve at a faster rate.



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