Thinking About Jiu-Jitsu Still Counts as Practice

Flickr / Creative Commons: Andres Trujillo

Regardless of the sport, I’m sure you may have heard about mental reps. Practicing jiu-jitsu moves in your head will help with training. Of course, the actual reps are best, but the mental ones can add a little more improvement to your game. Also, jiu-jitsu often causes you to have pieces of the puzzle pop up in your head out of nowhere as you are driving home or later that day. Even though it is not consciously reviewing a technique in your head, the possible option that suddenly enters your head can get your mind thinking of other options. The pop-up solutions are the fun part of jiu-jitsu causing you to solve the puzzle.

Thinking about a new move even if you don’t do it, starts the process. There can be steps to actually executing a new move where most of them begin in your head. Many times, when I am working on something new, I still go to my original moves out of habit. Realizing that I missed the opportunity is the first step. The next step is actively thinking about the new move the entire time, so you don’t miss the opportunity. After that, you may not be able to execute the move depending on your partner’s reaction, but at least you were ready. Take note of how many times you think of doing the new technique and how fast it enters your mind. Once it is immediate, you will be working towards it becoming instinctual by the continuous attempts.

Writing the new techniques you would like to execute will also help with progress. Whatever way works best for you and how you learn is important as well. You can use a flow chart or a list depending on how your brain responds best. Along with writing, you can watch videos to help with the mental reps before and during the times you are physically doing reps. The more you are thinking about it the better. Before class can be an opportunity to review what you want to work on that day. Afterward, you can assess if and when it worked and what step you are at in the process to adjust anything if needed.

The goal is to not have to think and have every move be instinctual and in our muscle memory. Before that happens, you need to actively think about it or you will go to your techniques that are currently in your muscle memory. If you are not hitting the new technique yet, keep trying. These mental reps count on the fact of initiating and thinking of it quick enough to try. In the meantime, work with a partner doing drills to get the new technique in your muscle memory and not only your mind. Then combining the work from the drills and attempting the technique will eventually have you hitting the new move. It is important to keep trying even when unsuccessful since the thought still counts and it is the first step toward making progress.


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