Drilling For Muscle Memory

Photo by: Stewart Uy

If you listen to top instructors and top competitors often enough, you will notice they share some common ideas about jiu-jitsu.

Renzo Gracie black belt Shawn Williams says in one of my favorite BJJ videos that the best way to improve your technique is to drill. You can not learn and perform perfect technique while rolling. Williams goes so far as to say that 60% of your training should be drilling!

I found a great quote in Graciemag by the innovative Keenan Cornelius about his own philosophy on drilling.

I still drill techniques, my main techniques, my A move, my A Game sweep, the guard pass and sub I hit the most, over and over again.

I’ve drilled them so many times, my body just reacts now. I can go out and let it just take over. Most of our training is drilling, based on our individual games and what we do best. Before a big tournament I stick to the stuff I’ve been doing and just drill it to death.

There are steps between learning a new technique to being able to successfully apply it against a fully resisting opponent in live rolling.

Drilling is that bridge between the new information and the ability to apply in your game.

Enough repetitions must be diligently performed for you to burn that movement pattern into your nervous system to transform your awkward, uncoordinated first attempts to a precise, efficient, tight technique.

Remember the first time you swung a golf club at the driving range over a golf turf mat? The first time that you drove a car? Your efforts required your full concentration and felt unnatural. Yet after hours of repetition, the performance has become automatic and effortless. You can eat, talk on the phone, and drive all at once without thinking about it.

This same mechanism happens when we drill our jiu-jitsu techniques. Drilling is key to instill jiu-jitsu into ourselves.


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