There is an old saying that one should fear not the man who has done 10,000 different kicks once but fear the man who has done one kick 10,000 times. The power of repetition is distinct in Jiu Jitsu, and for many of us it is the only way to get good. We must do every move that we want to get good at many times before we are good at it, and when we do any move many times, we must do it right.
More important than doing a move many times, one must do a move many times against a resisting partner or opponent. A major aspect of doing any move is doing it on someone who is actively trying to stop the practitioner. This can be a deeply frustrating experience especially when we are new but one must remember that in order to truly master anything you must let go of that frustration and accept that the move is going to take a while to work.
I think this is a big reason that we are encouraged to focus on the basics as basic movements are easier to do repetitively and with success than complex movements. I’d rather have a super effective basic game than a game that requires my opponents to make egregious errors.
Repetition is important because it allows us every single crucial movement. When I do any move for the first time I miss so many of the key details. As I progress and do it over and over again, as long as I am under good guidance I will inevitably begin to internalize those details. Again this is not an easy process but it’s simple.
Perhaps the most important point about repetition is that it must be done correctly. If you repeat the same mistake over and over again, it will eventually become part of your BJJ DNA. Bad habits are harder to break than good new ones are to make. It is for this reason that I am a firm believer in only learning from an instructor that fully knows the moves he or she is teaching. That’s not to say you can’t learn a cool detail from anyone, but your primary guidance should come from someone who is worth their salt.
I’ve mentioned this in many other articles but the quality of your training partner can dictate the quality of your move repetitions. That is to say: if you’re drilling a choke escape and your training partner has a crappy choke, chances are your details will be sloppy. On the opposite side of things, if you are drilling choke escapes with someone whose chokes are deadly, it may take you a bit longer to start being successful with the escape but when you do no one will be able to choke you.
Do you find that you benefit from repetition? Do you find that the quality of the repetitions is just as important as the quantity? Or do you find that the quality is more important?