Defend the Primary Threat

When it comes to jiu jitsu I’m extremely “concept” orientated. I believe that after you’ve learned the basics of each position and a few moves from each position, understanding a few basic concepts can do so much more for your jiiu jitsu than simply continuing to collect random techniques. Defending the primary threat is an example of a concept that, when implemented can improve your game from many different positions in a short period of time.

Defending the primary threat is a concept that I spent a good deal of time focusing on as a white belt shortly before receiving my blue. Identifying the primary threat from most of the positions I found myself in and figuring out ways to defeat them made a dramatic difference in my rate of progression. Lets’ look at a couple of examples that will illustrate what I mean by “defending the primary threat”.

First, the primary threat from any given position might not be the same for every jiu jitsu practitioner. If when in your opponent’s guard you are consistently being swept by the scissor sweep or variations of it or you are constantly fighting the cross-collar choke then the cross-collar grip is probably the primary threat you need to be concerned with. Conversely, if you are constantly being arm barred of swept, swept with the flower sweep, or having your back taken off an arm drag then having your arm dominated and your elbow pulled across your center line is the primary sweep. You can learn and drill all the guard breaks and passes in the world, but if you don’t learn to defend these primary threats you will always struggle inside your opponents closed guard.

A few other examples really quick: If from bottom half guard or when shrimping from bottom side control to recompose your guard you are getting choked with guillotines and similar chokes then the primary threat to defend is your opponent getting his arms in position to execute the choke — i.e. defend your neck. If from top half guard your opponent is getting the under hook and sweeping your or taking your back then obviously your opponent getting that under hook is the primary threat that must be defended.

This concept can be applied from the offensive perspective as well. If you have found that bottom half guard with the under hook is a position you are having a lot of success from then getting that under hook should be your main objective. If you like working from top side mount you need to keep your opponent on his back so you may want to consider that getting the cross face and blocking the hips are some of your main objectives.

In closing: Do you want to get better at jiu jitsu fast? Start looking at the concepts that make it work. If you’re new to the idea of “concepts” talk to your coach or experienced grapplers in your gym. There are also a ton of online resources available as well. Check them out.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

Joe Thomas

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Expanding your Jiu-Jitsu in a logical manner

I ran across this scenario and subsequent question not long ago: A white belt 6-8 months in has developed a decent closed guard but when his guard gets broken he has no answers to prevent the pass. His question was, “what’s another guard I can add to my game?”. That’s a great question, but a better question might be, “how do I figure this out myself? — how do I determine which positions and techniques to add to my game?”. Most grapplers will find themselves at the point of needing to evolve and expand their game many times during their journey. Sometimes you will adjust your game for competitive reasons, because of injury, or simply to continue moving towards a complete game. If you have a sound methodology for making these kinds of jiu jitsu decisions the process will become more efficient allowing you to progress more quickly. Here’s a few questions you can ask yourself during the process.

Have you explored all the options in the game you’re already playing? I would not try to discourage someone from expanding their game, but before you abandon something that has been successful, but no longer is – it may be worth spending some time trouble shooting. Perhaps with a few simple tweaks, you can get some more mileage out of that position. This may be especially relevant if you are trying to solve a problem for an upcoming tournament. A month before competition is not the best time to be revamping your game.

Does it solve the problem? If your training partners are using standing guard breaks and passes, spending a month studying half guard might not be as effective as spending a month transitioning from a broken closed guard to a single leg x guard, x guard, or de la riva guard.

Does it fit with the game you are already playing? Adding a new element will be easier if it shares some commonality with the game you’re already playing. All jiu jitsu fits….so maybe a better question here is “how will I make this fit into my game?”.

Does it fit with your physical attributes, skill set, and experience level? Every jiu jitsu practitioner has a different body type with different physical attributes and therefor certain positions and techniques will work better for some athletes than others. This definitely should be a consideration when expanding your game.

Is it the next logical step in regard to complexity and difficulty? If the two takedowns that had been working for you no longer are, then getting the fight to the ground would be a problem for you, and adding some additional techniques would make sense. Learning to do flying triangles and flying arm bars could be a possible solution, but you need to have the requisite skills in place first. If you are not already proficient at arm bars and triangles from more traditional positions and during transitions, then doing flying variations is most likely not the next logical step.

What does your coach think? If you have reached a point where you must expand your game to address a weakness, odds are your coach has also noticed you have an issue to address and has some direction for you. You can catch your coach before or after class, or even better, schedule a private lesson with them.

In conclusion: Efficiency is a core concept of jiu jitsu. Efficiency of movement is one of the things that allows smaller, weaker, or older people who have trained to prevail over those who haven’t. Why not apply this same principle when it comes to building your game?

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

Joe Thomas

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Can a Coach roll too much with the Students??

It is great to have a coach that will get on the mat with the students and train. It is often a badge of honor, a way to lead by example, and proof that the coach is a legitimate source of instruction.

This article is not an aid to help determine if your instructor is a sham. I simply want to invite coaches to consider an important tool for teaching jiu-jitsu.

If you are a coach and you roll every round, you might consider a different option. Try rolling most of the rounds with the students. Use the rounds that you sit out, to watch the students roll. This is a great opportunity to look for areas of improvement and discover strengths of your students. I know that you can do this when you roll with your students, but students roll differently with their coach.  By watching your students roll, your lesson plans can be adjusted to the needs of the room. Simply guessing what technique to work next is unlikely the most beneficial way to plan future lessons.

Observing students roll is also a good way to correct poor mat behavior. Someone may not be a mat bully to you or even able to put you in unsafe positions. But when you take a step back you can better identify a mat bully, and request that a change in behavior is made (something the rolling partner may not be willing to do for themselves).

Look across the spectrum of sports- coaches don’t typically take the role of participating to the degree of a BJJ coach. Why is that? I have two main reasons. The first, is most coaches in BJJ are actively trying to get better at the sport so their participation is benefiting themselves. The other reason speaks volumes about jiu-jitsu. In many cases coaches can outperform the students (even if they are significantly older or not as athletic). Therefore by being an “on the mat rolling coach” is providing the students with competitive and technical training sessions.

I am not advocating that coaches stop rolling with students. I am saying that it may be beneficial to take a step back and make observations and corrections from the sidelines. After all how many football coaches do you see putting pads on? How many basketball coaches are blocking shots? How many baseball coaches do you see hitting home runs? How many boxing coaches do you see land a knockdown punch?

Watch the video below to learn more about rolling too much with your students.

Great coaches may not always be doing the sport, but they are great at transferring knowledge and changing habits.

A wise coach will spend some time observing students and making changes.

 

Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler

That quote is generally attributed to theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. When someone as brilliantly intellectual as Albert Einstein says that simplicity is a good thing, I think the idea is worth looking into and that it may be worth considering applying this concept to all aspects of our lives….. including jiu jitsu.

To come to a mutual understanding of what we’re talking about let’s take a look at how this might apply to something simple that almost all of us use almost every day: A car. There are features such as four-wheel steering that have been around for years but are not widely used. Why? There may be many reasons, but I would suspect that it boils down to the fact that it would be a steep learning curve for most drivers, might be prone to failure, would be difficult and costly to repair, etc. – in short, it would be too complicated. On the other hand, in an effort to make cars easier to repair, easier to operate, and cheaper to build you could start removing many of the features that are currently available. If you started removing blinkers, lights, mirrors, all climate control, etc. I think we could all agree that that would be too simple. In either case the driving experience would not be as good as it could be.

Now let’s talk about jiu jitsu. From my perspective, while we practice jiu-jitsu as a sport, it is at its core a martial art that should enable us to defend ourselves in a fight. Even if you don’t completely agree with my assessment of what jiu jitsu should be, I think the idea of evaluating your game to ensure that it is neither too simple nor too complicated can still be of some benefit to you.

Let’s look first at what elements need to be in place in order for jiu jitsu to not be “too simple”. In my mind, there are some things that must be in place for jiu jitsu to be complete and not too simple. This is not about a list of techniques, but more about having a complete system that allows you to defend yourself (or compete) at all ranges of combat.

  • I believe first of all that you should be able to manage distance and control an opponent on your feet. Greco Roman wrestling may be king in the standing clinch, but a jiu jitsu practitioner should at least have a level of proficiency. Takedown drills and sparring that starts on the feet will help with this. You should be able to determine if the fight goes to the ground or not.
  • If your specialty is ground fighting then you should have more than one reliable method of getting a fight to the ground. Pulling guard is one option, but in a fight in a parking lot or at the beach, might not be the place for guard pulling. If you can take the fight to the ground and immediately be in a dominate position, that might be a good thing. You don’t have to become a judo expert or an Olympic caliber wrestler, but having a decent throw or takedown is, in my mind, essential.
  • You should be able to fight from every position at all ranges on the ground. You don’t have to master the De La Riva Guard, x guard, single leg x guard, etc. but you need some tools for dealing with an opponent who has knocked you down and is attempting to stand over you and punch you or pass your guard. You don’t have to be an expert at closed guard, half guard, butterfly guard…. but you need to have some tools to deal with an opponent who is trying to flatten and crush you. You should have offensive options from all top positions as well as bottom positions. You should have defensive answers from all positions as well. Part of your strategy for dealing with every position and all ranges may include means of transitioning to your strong positions. Disengaging from the fight is also a something you may want to ensure you are capable of. Going from side control to knee on belly to standing and disengaging, or breaking your opponent’s guard to standing and backing away, or using the technical stand-up are all good strategies for disengaging from the fight.
  • Your jiu jitsu should not fall apart if punches are introduced. I’ve come to be of the opinion that you don’t necessarily need to train with punches, but you should at least be aware of them. You can be a sports jiu jitsu specialist and still be aware of which techniques you are good at that are designed specifically for the competition mat and which techniques will save your ass in a fight.
  • Ensuring that all of the above elements are incorporated in your jiu jitsu game will ensure that it is not too simple, but how about the other half of this quote? How do we ensure that it is “as simple as possible”, or not too complicated? Are there certain sport techniques such as inverted guards and flying triangles that don’t belong? I don’t think so. All of the techniques that I see currently being practiced on the competition mats are valuable and legitimate jiu jitsu techniques. However, if you are so obsessed with having the flying armbar, flying triangle, and multiple variations of the berimbolo incorporated in your game that you are neglecting some of the core elements of jiu jitsu then perhaps you’ve allowed your jiu jitsu to become too complicated. If you are trying to be the resident expert at every variety of guard that can be played and have become a jack of all trades, but master of none…you might have allowed your jiu jitsu to become too complicated.

In conclusion: your jiu jitsu system should be expansive enough to allow you to work at every range from every position, but limited enough to maintain and manage. I believe a good rule of thumb is a good jiu jitus practitioner be proficient at 2-3 moves from each position or range of combat.

Find more articles by Joe Thomas here

Micro Jiu Jitsu

I am not the originator of the phrase or concept of “micro jiu jitsu”, but as I’ve come to understand it, I am a huge proponent. What is micro jiu jitsu as I understand it? In every technique, move, or sequence thereof, there are always one or two small details that everything else hinges upon. Get these details correct and your technique will be unstoppable. Neglect these details and you will either fail all together or be forced to muscle the technique to complete it.

An example of an individual detail that will make or break your chances of succeeding might be the initial cross collar grip when setting up the cross collar choke from closed guard or the scissor sweep. Once you reach for that collar a good opponent will work to break the grip and/or prevent you from improving it. So, developing a method for getting that initial grip deep is crucial. If you use your left hand to pull the collar while sliding your right hand in for the grip, the coordination between your two hands and getting the timing right needs to be refined to the point where it becomes automatic. Once you have the grip, understanding the nuances of the grip (do you curl the wrist? Flare the wrist? Do you grab just the collar or do you grab a handful of extra materiel? etc.), is equally important. Something as simple as this single grip can be explored and improved upon for many years.

A few other examples: If you like the kimura and hip bump sweep then the initial move to dominate and secure your opponent’s arm might be that key detail that everything else hinges on. If you like the armbar from closed guard or the flower sweep (pendulum sweep) then getting your opponent’s elbow across the center line while controlling the arm and moving your hips to create the right angle might be the key detail. I don’t presume to be enough of an expert to identify definitively what the key detail is for every move/technique, but I am sure that each athlete (perhaps with help from a coach or teammate) can identify key details to master based on their favorite go-to moves.

Not only can you improve the rate at which you succeed when executing individual techniques by mastering micro jiu jitsu it can also be the foundation to building your own grappling “system”. I often see people who prefer the cross-collar choke from the guard, knee on belly to kimura from side control, and the armbar from mount. If you like the cross-collar choke from guard, why not also make that your go to move from mount and maybe consider knee on belly to baseball bat choke (similar to a cross collar choke) from side control. You can also use the cross-collar grip from standing for throws or takedowns. That way, you get a little better at one thing (getting that grip and getting it right), and your game gets better from almost every position.

This, to me, is the essence of training “smart”. There’s no way one person can master every technique there is in jiu jitsu…. why not work on the ones that have some basic fundamentals in common and master those fundamentals?

Train hard. Train Smart. Get better.

Joe Thomas

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BJJ Seminars…. get the most out of them

Attending seminars is a great way to get instruction on specific aspects of the game from athletes and experts who have mastered (or in some cases revolutionized) that specific aspect. It’s also a great opportunity to meet some of the best athletes in our sport, and meet other athletes that are passionate about jiu-jitsu. However, with prices ranging between $40 and $100, you can be left wondering if it’s worth the expense. Here are a few ideas that may help you feel like you’re getting your monies worth.

Do some homework and prep. If you’ve read any of my other musing on jiu-jitsu you’ll know that preparation is a common theme. You will usually have an idea of what’s being covered in the seminar before you go. Get familiar with the basics beforehand. Example: Are you going to a seminar that’s been advertised as featuring submissions set up from spider guard? Make sure you are proficient with the various grips and foot placements utilized from that position. Get comfortable transiting between the various options for grips and foot placement. This will make it much easier to focus on the finer details of the submissions being taught. You can also find out easily what kind of culture follows a particular instructor — which may influence your decision to attend or not attend a particular seminar.

Have reasonable expectations. If your instructor (who I’m sure is a qualified and proficient instructor) cannot revolutionize your game in a two-hour class 2-3 times a week, don’t expect that a slightly better jiu jitsu instructor can do it in a three-hour seminar. If you are attending the seminar to get one on one instruction and coaching from one of the giants of our art…. keep in mind that 100 other people are doing the same. If you can get a few personal tips and maybe a picture with the instructor….be happy with that.

Take notes. 10 minutes after the seminar you will probably not have enough time or be in the right frame of mind to make detailed notes and two days later you will probably have forgotten many details. I would suggest taking notes in two parts. Scribble down as much as you can as the seminar progresses, or as soon as it’s over. Within the next day or two, take those scribbled down notes and re-write them with as many details as you can recall. Another way to capture your immediate thoughts would be to use your voice recorder on your phone and just talk through the seminar on your way home.

Shoot some video if it’s OK with the person running the seminar. Make sure and ask before you shoot video or take pictures. Many jiu jitsu practitioners make their living selling instructional content and don’t want to take the risk of uncontrolled material turning up on the internet. While it’s unlikely that most instructors will let you simple record the entire seminar, some instructors will be open to letting you record portions. Often there’s an “open mat” portion of the seminar and if nothing else you can have someone record you drilling the technique that was taught.

Review and rep the material as soon as possible after the seminar. There are many ways to do this. If you have mat space at home—invite a friend over the next day to share with them what you learned. No mat space at home? Try to get to class early within the next few days and show a friend before class. Even better: if you’re qualified and your instructor is OK with it, ask if you can show the class what you learned. Teaching others is the one of the best ways to really internalize knowledge gained. In conclusion: How much you benefit from attending a seminar, just like any other training opportunity, will depend largely on what you put into it. If I had to condense my thoughts down to as few words as possible to express my ideas about getting the most out of a training opportunity (a seminar, private lesson, camp, etc.), I would say preparation, executions, and follow through.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

Joe Thomas

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Why I Do Jiu-Jitsu

Joe Thomas

Everyone goes through periods of time in their jiu jitsu journey when they wonder “why am I even doing this?” It costs you $1,200 – $1,500 a year (or more) for gym fees and gear, you’re always sore, you don’t have a lot of time for other hobbies, etc. etc. It can leave you wondering if it’s worth all the effort and sacrifice. It doesn’t really matter what you’re pursuing, if it’s a difficult and long journey, and you can’t answer the question “why am I doing this?” you probably won’t see it through to the end.  I personally found myself at this crossroad two years ago when I was 48, and I didn’t immediately have an answer.

For many practitioners success on the competition stage is an answer to this question. I thought about that, (I have competed and find some satisfaction in it) but having the * “senior division” next to my results makes it somehow less satisfying to me. I considered that perhaps one day I could own and run my own school, but it seemed unlikely that getting my black belt in my mid 50’s and starting a school would be the best recipe for success. For some guys just being the toughest guy at their rank in their own school is reason enough to stick with it, and it might be for me too, but heading into my 50’s I don’t see that as likely to happen either.

I spent many months thinking about this question and my future on the mats. I started approaching the question from different angles and reflecting on the circumstances surrounding the times when I felt like the journey was worthwhile and I was “succeeding”. It occurred to me that I got as much satisfaction from the success of and progress of my teammates as my own. In fact, I one time spent an entire year purposefully giving up position and letting my training partners dictate the direction of our rolls, so that they could choose what they wanted to work on.  If I could see they were working to set up spider guard, I’d let them get grips and their feet in place before I started trying to pass – If they were top side control and I could see they were looking for mount, I’d make them work for it, but not fight to deny them the position at all costs – etc. The year I spent focusing on my training partners development wasn’t completely sacrificial – I did it in part so I would have a higher level of training partners to work with, but it helped me answer the question “why”.

I love to watch people grow as martial artists and as individuals and know that I played a part. My “why” is to be a mentor. That’s not the same as coaching and it’s certainly not instructing. Those might be good reasons for other people, but for me, contributing to the growth of my teammates in a more general way is what makes the journey worthwhile.

Do you want to see this journey through to the end? Do you want to get through the tough times when you wonder if it’s all worthwhile? Find your “why”. I would speculate that the less your “why” is about specific results and the more it is about big picture personal growth type things the more effective it will be. If your answer to this question is “I want to win worlds at every belt” then a few losses and tough tournaments might just be enough to convince you to call it quits.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

Joe Thomas Find more articles by Joe Thomas here

A Complete Victory by a 1% Margin

I just was reading this article about the Pareto principle which you’re probably familiar with, or the 80/20 rule.

The 1 Percent Rule: Why a Few People Get Most of the Rewards

I was just thinking this is good theory to back up why the “BJJ Brick” technique is such a good idea.

In situations like these, being just a little bit better than the competition can lead to outsized rewards because the winner takes all. You only win by one percent or one second or one dollar, but you capture one hundred percent of the victory. The advantage of being a little bit better is not a little bit more reward, but the entire reward. The winner gets one and the rest get zero.

And

The margin between good and great is narrower than it seems. What begins as a slight edge over the competition compounds with each additional contest.

And

We can call this The 1 Percent Rule. The 1 Percent Rule states that over time the majority of the rewards in a given field will accumulate to the people, teams, and organizations that maintain a 1 percent advantage over the alternatives. You don’t need to be twice as good to get twice the results. You just need to be slightly better.
So obviously this fits in with the brick move, by having a move which you have refined from being good to great, you could theoretically go from getting not many submissions at all, to a majority — outsized advantages.

This was an email sent to us by John Lehmann in Dallas, Tx

Visiting another school…. Getting the most out of a drop in

Anyone who has trained jiu jitsu for any length of time has probably had the itch to drop in at another school for a visit. Maybe you just want to meet new people, maybe you want to be exposed to a different training environment, or maybe you are just going to be out of town for an extended period of time and visiting another school will be your only opportunity to train. Whatever the reason, visiting another school can be a great experience. It can also be a little intimidating or overwhelming for some people. Whether you are excited about the opportunity or are a little nervous about it – here are a few tips that may help you get the most out of it.
1. Identify as many schools in the area that may be worth visiting. This will give you the best odds of finding one that will be a good fit for you. It sometimes takes multiple web searches to find all the schools in a given area. Sometimes, some schools will show on a search for “BJJ near…” and other schools in the same area will show for “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu near….”. It is also worth just asking around. If you know other people that do jiu jitsu and live in the area you are looking to visit shoot them a text and ask. Jiu Jitsu forums and message boards can also be helpful.
2. Do some research. You can find out a lot about a school by visiting their website, social media sites, checking reviews, and just asking around. You can get a pretty good idea about a school’s jiu jitsu style and the training environment by checking their website and social media and by asking a few questions on the phone or via email/messaging. This will help you find a school to visit that’s right for you.
3. Call ahead. Some information I try to get on a phone call: A) Is the class I’m interested in appropriate for my skill level and open to drop ins? B) What’s the drop-in fee? C) Are there any uniform requirements? Some gyms prefer white gis. D) Make sure I have the correct address and directions.
4. Go with an open mind. No matter how much research you do and how many questions you ask sometimes you show up at a school and find the class is nothing like what you were expecting. You can still have a positive experience and get a lot out of the class…. but this is unlikely to happen if you are not open to trying something new and doing things a different way.
5. Be humble. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone and most people don’t like a visitor coming in and trying to be king of the mat. Start off slow and loose during sparring. With each round as you get to know the group and they get to know you, you can ratchet it up a notch. I’d rather leave the class feeling like I didn’t do my best jiu jitsu than leave the class feeling like I wouldn’t be welcomed back.
6. Make some connections. Jiu Jitsu is largely about the journey and the friends you make. At a minimum, make a social media connection so you can follow them and keep in touch. If things went well and you felt like things really clicked, exchange contact information. You never know when you’ll be back in the area or when someone from that school might be in your area and you can get together again for some training.
7. Leave the school a good review online. It’s not easy building a team and running a business. Good reviews help. If they treated you well and you were able to get some quality training in, the least you can do is take five minutes to leave them a good review.
One final thought: The visit will be what you make. Some things are out of your control—the size of the school, how accomplished the instructor is, the skill level of the other students on the mat, etc. However, you do have control over your attitude, your effort level, your preparation before the visit, etc. Put as much effort into finding the right school and properly preparing for the class as you do once you get there and you will have an awesome visit.
Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

By Joe Thomas Find more articles by Joe Thomas here

Live Sparring/Free Rolling: Get more out of it than just a good fight

Live sparring, for most of us, is why we do jiu jitsu. Live sparring is where things get fun, where we pressure test our techniques, and where we find out which moves work for us and which might not. Live sparring, however, is not the easiest environment for newer students to make technical improvements in their jiu jitsu. Here are a few suggestions that might help.

Check your ego. This advice is repeated so often that it has become a bit cliché, but at no time on the mats is it more applicable than during live sparring. Not having your ego in check can cause a you to make choices on the mat that can be detrimental to your progress. Some examples would be: Not rolling with teammates (especially those of lesser rank) who frustrate you and/or tap you often. Not rolling when you’re tired so as not to get beat by a lesser skilled, but fresher or more athletic teammate. Not taking chances or trying new techniques that might leave you vulnerable.

Breath and relax. Only when you’re calm can you see what’s happening. And when you can see what’s happening you can start to learn. You will learn more “losing” calmly than “winning” by spazzing and scrambling like a wounded cougar.

Have specific and achievable goals. This seems to be especially applicable if you find yourself (like I often do) rolling almost exclusively against grapplers with more skill and ability. If you’re working on your kimura and there’s no one in class that you can actually submit, try to just dominate the arm and catch the kimura grip. Maybe you’re training partners are too good for even that—what position do you want to set the kimura up from? Set a goal to at least get there.

Roll with everyone. It’s easy to fall into the habit of rolling almost exclusively with a few training partners that give us fun and reasonably competitive rolls. There’s nothing wrong with rolling with our favorite training partners, but we also benefit from those training partners who are behind us a bit in athletic and technical ability as well as those who can crush us. When rolling with a training partner you can easily beat, don’t take the easy way out and just throw on your best submission every time—use this roll to try new techniques or roll from a position you are week from. When rolling against someone who can easily beat you, don’t put all your focus on not getting tapped at all costs—concentrate on things like good postures, good movements, good fundamentals, etc.

Don’t be afraid to use positional sparring during open mat when it makes sense. Positional sparring during live sparring might make sense if you’re working on a specific move or specific piece of your game—this could be especially helpful if you roll with a more advanced training partner who is especially good at what you’re working on who can give you feedback after the roll.  It might also make sense if you’re nursing an injury and are concerned some positions may leave you vulnerable to aggravate the injury. Positional sparring may also make sense when rolling with a new student who is not comfortable engaging—you can save time and get to the actual sparring if you just let them start in side control.

To wrap things up: Live sparring is a great way to evaluate your jiu jitsu, make adjustments, and refine your technique. To get the most out of it you need to treat it as a learning and training exercise as opposed to a competition to be won or lost. Always remember—there is no honor in gym wins.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

By Joe Thomas Find more articles by Joe Thomas here