In January of this year, our Youth Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition team began ramping up their training in preparation for their next tournament. We set our sights on NAGA Atlanta on April 29, 2017.
The team was now 19 members strong but all of the kids would either be competing for the first or second time. Thinking back to our last tournament in October however, I sat down to lay out the curriculum for the next few months by trying to do more of the things that led to success at the last tournament, and fix some of the errors our kids were making the most.
It's an interesting process because there are thousands of techniques and variations they will learn in the coming years. I have to boil these thousands down to the most essential techniques to learn in the limited amount of training sessions between January and April.
So with this limited amount of time and practice, one of our themes at competition practice has been "Maximize your repetitions." The kids must have heard me say this 100 times over the last few months.
You only have a limited amount of time on the mat to practice the techniques being taught to you. Each repetition needs to be maximized, and I believe most of the time they aren't.
What does it mean to maximize a repetition?
It means to learn the most you possibly can from each repetition.
Here are five tips to maximize every repetition on the mat:
1. Fully Engage Your Mind
Fully engage your mind to the smallest of details of the technique and analyzing them. We often just go through the steps without any thought as to why we are doing them, or what makes them work.
2. Learn Both Sides of the Fight
You can learn twice as fast if you also analyze what the person on the other end could do to stop this technique from happening. You can often learn to counter most techniques by just thinking about what makes the technique work.
Example: If you are learning a collar choke, and the first step is to open the collar with one hand and feed a deep collar grip to the other hand to keep the opponent close, then we could deduce that if we are the other guy we should immediately establish posture and prevent our opponents from getting deep collar grips. Understand?
You can do this with every technique and learn twice as fast. While most students are learning one side of the fight, you are learning both.
3. Practice Full Speed*
*Note: Full speed should be the fastest that you can do the technique smoothly without losing any of the details.
Try the technique at a faster pace to see what it will feel like when done in a live scenario. Often mistakes are disguised by speed (we'll talk about this more in another post), so be careful not to lose any of the details.
If you catch yourself leaving something out, figure out why, slow it down, and get that piece back in there. This will also help you realize which details are the most essential, and potentially find new details that make the technique work for you.
4. Don't Goof Off
Training is incredibly fun. Don't let yourself relax too much on the mat though and waste valuable practice time. It isn't good for you OR your partner.
5. Practice Kata & Randori at the Appropriate Times
In Japanese arts, training is divided into "Kata" and "Randori."
Kata is the technique practice. This is where you learn a technique and practice it in the air or on a partner. At this time, no resistance should be included. The partner should set the technique up perfectly for you, and you execute it as close to perfect as possible.
Randori is the live practice or sparring. This is where you and your training partner have different objectives, and you are no longer just allowing your partners to practice the techniques.
Both of these are vital to success but do not confuse or blend the two. During technique training, do not try to stop your partner from being able to do the technique, and don't ask your partner to give you resistance either. That also means that you should strive to keep the technique refinement out of the randori practice. Don't stop a sparring session to ask about a technique, or correct your partner's technique. This can be done later and is not very beneficial.
At both tournaments I have taken our kids to now, I have had referees, other coaches, and parents let me know how impressed they are with the PMA team. The kids act like total pros, and their technique is improving so quickly. I am unbelievably proud of them all and having more fun than I ever could have imagined coaching this team.
Check out a couple of matches from this past weekend's tournament:
Match #1 - Grady Fox
Grady was one of our most dominant competitors this weekend. You can always see the determination in his face, and he is focused from start to finish!
At eight years old and weighing in at a little over 40 pounds, he is usually fighting kids a little bigger than he is, and this match falls into that category. He went undefeated in his matches to win double gold in gi and no-gi!
Match #2 - Alex Torres
Two of our competitors, Alex Torres and Aiden Hemsley, did not have anyone in their division registered, so we chose to bump them up in skill level to the Intermediate division.
Alex's first match was a kid older than him with a couple of years of high school wrestling experience. The referee told me afterward that he thought Alex was going to get obliterated! Once the fight hit the mat, Alex's Jiu Jitsu took over, and he controlled the positions on his way to a 15-2 win. Alex went on to earn a silver medal in both gi and no-gi in the Intermediate division!