Applying The 80/20 Rule To How We Train

Photo by: Blanca Marisa Garcia

Have you heard of the 80/20 principle or the”Pareto Principle”? This is a rule in science and life that roughly 80% of the results, outcomes and effects come from 20% of the causes, initiatives and actions. This rule have been applied in almost every setting possible from business to mainstream sports practice and now I am going to apply it to the way we train BJJ.

First I want to clearly define the types of actions we take in BJJ. These are all the possible things that have an effect on our progress.

  • Warm Ups & Conditioning
  • Technique training
  • Watching instructional
  • Drilling
  • Rolling

While there are some other possible actions we may take in BJJ, I think these will serve us fine for this discussion.

I however think that the way white and blue belts learn is different than the way upper belts learn. Most of our basic understanding of positions and moves are learned at white and blue belt (and into purple), but as we progress we learn “new moves” less often and instead refine the ones we know and build upon them in live training.

This leads me to my first proposal A.) The 20% that creates the majority of the results for lower belts White Belt  Blue Belt is actually technique training and drilling .

I think this makes sense for the most part. In the beginning as we learn new moves it is relatively easy to use them when our opponent is unsuspecting and we have drilled the timing.

However, What happens when we reach purple, brown and black and you opponent knowns exactly what you are doing? While technique is still vital, I believe we must consider a second proposal B.) The 20% Of actions that create the majority of results for upper belts is actually Drilling and Live Training.

What do you think about this analysis? Could there be some other tweaks or activities to add to it ?  Obviously this doesn’t take into account natural skill/athleticism, but I believe it could be helpful in the way we approach learning .


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