This is a guest article written by 3rd degree black belt, Luiz Dias. Dias is the founder of the G.A.S. academy in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil and carries with him four decades of grappling knowledge.
There are always those guys in our academy, whom we know will give us a tough roll. Sometimes you may avoid them, be it due to fatigue, or because your head or/and your body aren’t in a good place, but you know they are available. You will also have the reverse, the easy sparring session, the “rest round” after a tough battle. In any case, even when training with partners, some days you will go home very happy with your performance, and other times you will lose sleep over that stupid mistake that cost you the tap. The latter ones are what will help you develop your jiu jitsu and your strategy. Push you to the next level. Those are the ones you should be looking for on the mat.
As competitors, I believe it is very important for us to promote personal challenges, to get away from our comfort zone. This can come in the way of picking the hardest training partner in the room, even when you know he is more skilled and competent than you. But the challenge can also be hitting a position you are not comfortable with, trying out different techniques and setting yourself goals to increase the range of positions in your jiu jitsu game.
In practice you can also allow an opponent to get to a position in which you feel vulnerable. Start from there, let that be your “challenge”, to escape from a position you find troublesome. You will find that with time, the position will no longer be a worry, and in fact I’ve seen some ending up adding these “code red” positions to their A-game through this method.
Seek challenges, set goals. Each training should be done with focus, concentration on the design ahead. Stop submitting people always with the same old submission you know you can do with your eyes closed, seek for alternatives (sweeps or different finishes).
The more you promote these internal challenges, the more blocks of techniques you will have added to your game by the end of each week. If you can only train with lower graded partners, increase your “handicap”, look for alien positions in your game.
Following this method, soon your go-to game will have more options than you thought, this will help you strategize better as a competitor, take others out of their comfort zone, by narrowing yours. And this way we stay true to the old combat sports motto: “train hard, fight easy”.
Banner Picture taken @FightZone London