Strategizing Your Jiu-Jitsu

When you go to Jiu-Jitsu, do you have a plan for that day, for the month, or for the year? It’s been a huge help to devise a plan daily, monthly, and yearly to improve your game. My yearly goals are fairly general and I typically list three submissions and 1-2 passes/sweeps/alternate sub that I want to add to my game. Usually, the three subs are ones where I’m starting from scratch, not a transition from a move I currently do. The number of subs chosen will vary depending on how your brain works and how often you typically go to class.

I like lists and bullet points as opposed to flowcharts and branch-type writing. I personally think a flow chart is a great idea especially for jiu-jitsu, but unfortunately, I find it challenging to the way I learn. When I tried, I ended up reaching fewer goals, feeling overwhelmed, and not sticking to the plan because the plan felt too all over the place for my brain. I think very linearly, so a list worked for me. When I started practicing one, two, or three at a time, my goals started falling into place.  I’ve found that I want to make this incredibly long list, yet when I limit the list more gets accomplished. When I choose these 3, they are from different positions so they are not related. 

When choosing these three subs, there will be an entire process of getting there which obviously includes other moves so essentially there is more. My examples for this year were north/south choke, Jackie Chan to leg locks, Gogo variations, flyover/flip overpass, and isosceles triangle. So, the first three are the main ones, covering different parts of the body, and not related. They also include setups, getting to the position, and/or several submission variations from that position. Keeping that amount works for me. The reason to include two more is that they are the pass only for one and for the isosceles, it is another option from the under jack when going for a head and arm choke. They are both on the backburner if the position comes up. Again, that is what works for me although there is much more included than the 3 submissions. 

Having a plan has been important not only for being goal-focused but also because you may have limited time to go to classes depending on your schedule. It also helps with being efficient and not just floating through rolls thinking whatever happens you’ll respond to that. Yes, there are many days when you don’t get to any of them, but it is way more likely if it is constantly in your head and focused on a specific goal. 

Training also changes depending on the partners in class. It’s very challenging to work a brand-new move on a teammate who is significantly larger and just as, if not, more skilled. When I am teaching fundamentals is when I have those opportunities. If dealing with someone larger, then focus on the moves that are more realistic with a size difference, i.e., leg locks. Also, when I’m getting ready for a competition, I’ll put some of the newer subs on hold while focusing on my game plan. Having a plan helps to use your time wisely, so you get all of the benefits when you’re on the mats. Whether it’s a list, flow chart, or other option, choose which works for you but have a plan!


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