How do You Improve Your Game?

5 min read
Getting better with a systematic approach

How do You Improve Your Game?

Getting better with a systematic approach

Location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Everyone wants to be good at jiu-jitsu. Everyone wants to improve their skills and become fluent with their game. The big questions that always arise are, How do I improve my game? Where do I even start? How do I know I am truly improving? In this article, we will look at some ways to deconstruct your game and give a systematic approach on the road to improvement. Therefore, in order to attain clarity and direction while in the improvement process, we must see exactly where we need improvement, find ways to gain the required knowledge, and continually practice our skills on our way to retention.

What specifically to work on:

The first step in improving is recognizing exactly where you need improvement. Often, people become flustered when they think in terms of large goals or the end product. For example, “I need to get better at guard passing,” or “I need to get more submissions,” Etc. The crucial point is to think of the small parts that will lead you to your big goal. Ask yourself, “What is a position that I get in where I don’t feel comfortable, or I don’t have any options?” The answer would be a starting point for what you need to work on first. Once you establish a single position as a starting point, you can then devote your time to establishing a better understanding of that position. 

An example would be that you want better guard passing but are getting stuck in Lasso or spider guard. Perhaps you can get to the front headlock position, but your training partner always escapes. These “uncomfortable positions” would be a perfect starting point to work on to improve your guard passing game. 

Research and study:

Once you establish where you need to improve, your next step is research and study. There are many sources for acquiring information that you could use to help progress your understanding and game. The first treasure trove of information can be found at your gym from your own professor. Depending on your professor’s time and cost, you can work in private sessions so that they can help analyze your style and give appropriate pointers. Another source of techniques is found vastly on the internet on various forms of social media and online subscription platforms from your favorite athletes. The subscription-based services will give you more information than you will know what to do with. Finally, you can look to acquire resource material such as instructional DVDs and jiu-jitsu books or magazines that outline techniques, products, and interviews on athletes and their training methods.  

Put it into practice:

Next, you will need to take the newfound information and put it into practice. It is one thing to see the technique and visualize yourself applying it, and it is another thing to practice and make it a permanent part of your game. The best time to really focus on your training is days designed for your choice activity. Open mats or study sessions outside of class time are an ideal time to learn and develop your research into technique. If you are focusing on escapes or hunting for various submissions, you will need to have an opponent reacting accordingly. During the sparring component of class, you will be able to work on these techniques in a live situation. If you have the ability to train with different belt levels, you can work on gaining different reactions. Putting yourself into weak positions and working out of these positions will help to strengthen your skill as well as help to develop transitional awareness. It is essential to practice the skill you are uncomfortable with to strengthen it to the point of being comfortable.  

Retention:

Finally, the last focus of improvement is retention. It is one thing to learn a new skill, but it is also another to retain it and utilize it in a live situation. Making connections to pre-existing skills and techniques will help make the technique more relevant and ultimately stick. You want to build transitions between your different systems and make them overlap to fill any holes in your game. Take your favorite position and find a way to link to a new technique you are learning to help build the required mental pathways. An example of this is learning De la Riva guard and seeing how you can transition from breaking an opponent’s closed guard to a De La Riva hook.

If you want to get better at anything, it takes time and effort. Jiu-Jitsu is certainly no different. Improving your jiu-jitsu in a systematic approach is very similar to learning any new skill; you must have direction in how to learn the skill and implement it. You can improve by finding positions where you feel uncomfortable and determine how you can make them comfortable and familiar. Once you establish where you need work, you will need to research ways to enhance and internalize your skills. Practicing new skills to the point of it being second nature is the key to retaining the new information. Having direction on where to start will help save you from becoming lost on your jiu-jitsu journey.

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