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With the world preparing for a zombie apocalypse in the form of Covid-19, many BJJ gyms around the world have temporarily closed until the situation has calmed down. If your gym remains open, you may not be comfortable rolling in a group setting either.
So can you still get better and continue to train BJJ through solo at-home drills? You sure can! We’ve put together a collection of solo BJJ drills below that you can do at home to help your jiu jitsu stay sharp during these weird times.
Professor Phillip Wyman, a Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu black belt shows us 8 solo drills that you can do at home.
This short circuit is great for warming up, but also great to keep your jiu jitsu muscle memory in form.
One of our favorite Youtubers Nick Albin (Chewjitsu) goes over three BJJ drills that are incredibly helpful for developing a crazy guard passing game. He also goes into explaining the concepts and exactly how they will work in competition or sparing.
This is a solid circuit training series for Brazillian Jiu Jitsu and No-gi Grappling that goes over a lot of different pass and transition variations, as well as different body mechanic workouts.
Eli Knight shows some really cool – and practical solo drills that you can do to build your bottom guard game. Focusing on mobility and fluidity only using a throwing bag or heavy bag.
5X World Champion Bernando Faria and Mike Perry show you a crazy effective kettlebell workout that you can do from your living room. This efficient workout doesn’t requite much space and focuses on building up your speed, strength, grips, and overall conditioning.
In the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the debate about technique versus concepts, drilling versus rolling has raised its head again. Champions like André Galvão advocate drilling for expert BJJ performance while others, such as Kit Dale, argue that it isn’t necessary, favoring rolling instead. So who is right?
As is often the case, both approaches may be useful. Between my job as university education adviser and my sport psychology training, I’m really interested in how people learn. And my passion for BJJ means I’m always thinking about how it works in jiu jitsu too. Understanding learning theory and sport psychology can help us to make good, informed choices when it comes to improving BJJ. Here comes the science…
The idea of drilling a technique over and over is that you learn it so well that you don’t even have to consciously think about it. This is supported by Fitts and Posners’ three stages of motor learning: Cognitive, Associative and Autonomous.
Cognitive stage: When we first start to learn a physical skill like BJJ, all of our attention is given over to simply executing the movement.
Associative stage: After a while, we begin to transfer what to do into how to do it. Our movements are still under conscious control. We still have to think about the technique but start making adjustments and stringing parts together into larger chunks.
Autonomous stage: Finally after many hours of practice, the skills are refined and seemingly automatic. As we transition through the stages, our technique becomes more efficient and we expend less physical and mental energy to achieve the same results.
Take the triangle, for example. In the cognitive stage, we would normally start with a few crude movements and try to replicate what we’ve seen and heard from other people. In the associative stage, we might pay more attention to details like the angle of our leg across our opponent’s shoulders or how we break their posture. In the autonomous stage, we don’t have to consciously concentrate on each aspect of the triangle to successfully pull off the submission.
Reaching the autonomous stage can be beneficial because it reduces cognitive demands and lets you focus on other aspects of performance (e.g., what your opponent is doing, your game plan). When high-level athletes encourage drilling, it’s because it can help you reach this autonomous stage of skill acquisition.
In his article ‘Why Concepts Are Better Than Techniques in BJJ’, Kit Dale argues that the traditional approach to teaching jiu jitsu is outdated. I’m not so sure about that. Instruction can help to give some direction about what you should be doing. It would be hard for a beginner to execute a triangle without ever having seen it before. And valuable feedback from an instructor can help to focus your effort and accelerate your learning.
Traditional martial arts teaching (i.e., a physical demonstration accompanied by verbal explanation) involves an explicit approach to learning. It gives students specific information about how to perform a skill. It can be very helpful, especially for a beginner, to consciously take on board important elements.
But this type of instruction can also be problematic. In a classic piece of research with golfers, Professor Richard Masters found that novice players who learned a golf putt through typical instruction were more susceptible to choking under pressure. In contrast, players who learned the golf putt implicitly (i.e., without formal instruction) did not suffer the same performance decrements.
When we learn skills explicitly, by having particular aspects pointed out to us, we tend to fall back on these specific rules when stressed. We try to consciously control movements which would normally be automatic. In short, we experience ‘paralysis by analysis’. On the other hand, when we learn skills implicitly via subconscious processes, we don’t have any specific instructions to rely on. We are less likely to consciously control a skill because we are not fully aware of how we do it in the first place.
It seems that the Australian black belt does have a point. By encouraging rolling over drilling, Kit Dale is effectively supporting an implicit learning process which reduces the likelihood of crumbling in stressful situations.
Designing an implicit learning environment is a tricky business, however. Rather than coaching their students to replicate precise techniques, great BJJ teachers scaffold environments to guide their students. It’s not about leaving students to their own devices, but about nudging them in the right direction and encouraging them to take ownership of their own learning.
So what’s the ‘take home’ message? If you’ve read this far, you’ll realise that learning is a complex business, especially in an art as multifaceted as BJJ. Drilling has its uses, so does rolling. No single approach is perfect. Use them as you see fit.
About Dr. Rebecca Hill:
Dr Rebecca Hill is a Sport and Exercise Psychologist chartered by the British Psychological Society. She is passionate about helping martial artists and combat athletes reach their performance potential through mental skills development.
She is also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt competitor under world champion Victor Estima, and current European Champion.
What happens if love Jiu Jitsu but keep getting terrible competition results? That’s exactly what happened to Felipe Costa.
Instead of walking away he refused to quit, went back to the drawing board and became a world champion.
In this interview from BJJ Hacks, Felipe talks about the obstacles he had to overcome and the methods he used to rise to the top.
He also describes the sports psychology tricks he applied to win tournaments and explains how he approaches his training as a smaller jiu-jitsu player.
You’ll also see rolling footage from his ‘light guys only’ training sessions, reserved for jiu-jitsu players under 73kg.
This powerful technique is based on a simple yet effective concept: the further you move your opponent’s elbows away from his body, the weaker his defenses will be.
Understanding how to capitalize on this position will quickly increase your ability to get submissions and control and dominate your opponents.
In this short video, Ryan Hall teaches some of the fundamental concepts and theory behind the open elbow.
Marcelo Garcia and Ryan Hall Talk Jiu Jitsu for 30 mins.
A common question among BJJ athletes is “What’s the best form conditioning for Jiu Jitsu?”
So when a multiple time World and ADCC champion shares his conditioning philosophy it’s worth listening.
In this short video, Marcelo Garcia shares his philosophy on conditioning for Jiu Jitsu.
Braulio Estima at Marcelo Garcia’s NYC Academy
Marcelo Garcia welcomes multiple-time World Champion, Braulio Estima, to his New York City academy!
Check out this exclusive footage of Braulio teaching some of his most devastating submission secrets.
Over the past few years, the lapel guard variations have become a big part of the modern Jiu Jitsu guard game.
In this video, four-time world champion Gui Mendes shows some attacks from a De La Riva Lapel X-Guard.
Many people believe the Mendes Bros revolutionised modern Jiu Jitsu with their innovative guard attack and guard passing games.
But how did they create such effective attacks?
In this video, Rafael Mendes discusses the process he and his brother Gui Mendes used to study and create new techniques.
Both Gui and Rafa Mendes are multiple time world champions and are considered two of the best competitors of their generation.
These video’s from Bishop BJJ break down the Mendes Bros game by the numbers and contain many lessons you can use to improve your game.
Check out these awesome techniques from a recent Gui Mendes seminar in Japan. This short video Gui Mendes covers some essential top game concepts and a sneaky Triangle from the Knee Slide guard pass.
Henry Akins is known as “The Jiu-Jitsu Super Computer” because his high level of understanding and attention to detail about the gentle art.
In this video Henry explain and demonstrates the importance of knowing when to connect, as well as disconnect from your opponent and why you need to know do both.
Akins was the third american black belt under the legendary Rickson Gracie and currently teaches out of Dynamix MMA in Los Angeles.
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