We know that getting to a black belt will require training for 8 to 10 years on average. Now we know of different cases with the prodigy BJ Penn, Caio Terra, Mike Fower among others who have managed to have their black belt in half or less of that time. The question is how?
In this note published in BJJ Style written by Sam Joseph in a black belt with two grades, principal instructor and owner of Buckhead Jiujitsu in Atlanta comments:
As a Brazilian Jiujitsu instructor, one of the most frequently asked questions is “How can I learn this (BJJ) faster?” Is a common reaction to be disturbed by the emotion we feel when we begin to fall in love with the BJJ. We see its value as a martial art, as a total training of the body and a way of life – so people want to adopt it as quickly as possible. The problem is that, learning Jiujitsu is like building a house that, by rushing the process, often leads to compromise, and this can lead to long-term problems. Learning the basics and letting our bodies adjust to the sport takes time and effort, but there are some ways to go through that efficiently. Here are some tips to help you speed up the learning process.
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Learn the techniques in combination.
The individual techniques and the small details that make it work must be what we should always focus on. Adding the step of learning these movements with at least one other movement will work in the way we expect, will make individual movements more effective and form a basis for learning, which will accelerate the growth of our BJJ. Putting techniques in combination does not add options, multiply the options, as it allows us to take what our opponents give us instead of forcing something that is not there. An example of this would be to learn a scrape and immediately continue with a technique based on an expected response to the scrape. This will lead us to a better understanding of the position by giving us an option to continue attacking if the position fails and foster an appreciation of how the BJJ has both physical and mental aspects. Learning in this way also opens us to the next level of connecting the combination of techniques. Our ability to connect the combinations will have a direct impact on the ability to set “traps” and the more “traps” we can put efficiently the more advanced our BJJ game will become. Adopting this learning method puts us in the position of moving forward in a faster and more effective way than if we learn by accumulating techniques and technical situations.
Train Gi and NoGi
Then we talk about our preference to train Gi or NoGi as if they were exclusive to each other. It is as if we had to “choose one side” or if we could only enjoy one or the other. I believe that, as long as we have a preference, it is very beneficial for our grappling to practice both regularly. There are concepts that are easier to understand and perfect if we use the Gi. “Position before submission” is a central concept of the BJJ. It is also an example of something that is much easier to learn about its value with the Gi, since the Gi gives us a wide variety of options when we establish position. Conversely, nogi-training enthusiasts often learn the fundamentals of attacking and defending the legs sooner and more competitively. This is at the same time due to the limitation of the rules on attacking the legs with the gi and the lack of submissions available in the upper body in nogi compared to the gi.
When we adopt training both gi and nogi, we remove ourselves from artificial limitations in our grappling growth. The lessons we learn from one are allowed to benefit from the other and that is why they lead us to a faster maturation in our BJJ game. An added benefit is that many times we realize that we enjoy both and that helps us fill our passion for sport and lifestyle.