Training Epiphanies

I was wondering if others experience this as well. During my years of training I have found that I often have periods of time when I have a training epiphany. Periods when I suddenly have a completely new understanding of some aspect of the game that opens up or changes my jiu jitsu for the better. They don't come all that often. Perhaps once or twice a year, but its a palpable feeling for sure.

These epiphanies can be triggered by any number of things. A specifically great roll or rolling session. Rolling with a new partner(s). Instruction from a new teacher with a new perspective. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Similarly experienced?

The other day I got  Americanaed and my elbow popped, and I realized that I need to get over my stupid pride and just tap and fight another day.  I've always been one of those people who refuses to tap until I'm almost out or my limbs are jacked.  You live and learn in this sport.  Though a technical epiphany I had was the vitality of under hooks.

That's a nice layer of your ego that you just peeled off. Not being afraid to tap and accepting the sub as part of your journey is a big step. Think of it this way, you need to tap 10,000 times on your journey to black belt. Get to tappin'.

That's an excellent epiphany. Under hooks is another. That'll change your game for sure.

Don't let your opponent get comfortable with his grips. I stop whatever I'm doing to break a collar or pants grip. It might drag the battle out but it can stop you from losing the war. Phone Post 3.0

FRAT warning: Excerpt from my blog @

I haven't been able to write for a few months because work has been bonkers, but I have found some time today to put something down that i have been working on. As you may know, I really like taking complicated sequences and thought processes, and making them as simple as possible. This helps when I'm explaining how I think, and it also helps with working through the process as you can divide it up into bite sized chunks.

I visited Preston Sukata a few weeks ago and got to roll with the guys there, who have a completely different style of rolling to our home club. I like both styles, so I get the best of both worlds when I can train at both. Preston's fighters are fast! They transition relentlessly and are always on the attack. My cardio gets pushed and I have to be moving all the time if I want to get round to a sweep or a pass. At my home club there are some fast players too, but there are also some really solid smash players who shut you down from pass to submission. I would be lying if I said that I tend towards the Preston based way of rolling, but nonetheless I appreciate it - and the instructor - massively. Link here if you want to visit : Sukata Preston.

Now over the years I have debated with Tom Hanlon (the Instructor there) about the importance of grips. The top guys all say that it is one of - if not the - most important thing in your game, so why did it not feel like that for the first few years..? Yes they were important, yes I looked for the ones I was most comfortable with, yes they worked really well in certain situations and not in others... So where was the secret..? Where was this magical domination that some people could get with 'really good grips...' ? What is it about the grips that work, and the ones that don't..?

Well it may surprise you to know that I can't give you the full answer... /sarcasm. As a blue belt I am relatively new to the sport and only have just over 4 years in now. But, I can offer a little perspective on what has - I think - just busted a plateau for me. Yes that's right, a tried and tested plateau buster. It has taken my game to the next level in understanding and helped to give me time during rolling. This is one thing that is scarce for most people when they first start out, so this may help a little for anyone that feels every roll is just a melee of whirling limbs.

So is it as easy as 1-2-3..? Yes. You mean I can break down the grips into a 3 stage bracket..? Yes. So there's a real progression there..? Yes. Do I have to understand the stages though..? Unfortunately, yes. Can you skip between the stages, so like 1-3..? Yes, definitely, and there is where it gets a little more complicated.

Stage 1 - The Pass or the Sweep.

This is the easy part, and also the part that most people get very quickly. "In order to pass using X Pass, I need X Pass grips. Therefore, when on top, look for and fight for X Pass grips." Simple..? Of course, and the same is true of say the flower sweep from guard. You need the right grips. Once you learn to grip fight this will come easily and you will work for those grips all the time. It will become habit.

Stage 2 - Control

This is the part where most people screw up. Unless you have transitioned from the Stage 1 grip, into a control grip, the player on the bottom will just re-set and re-guard. The same is true of the person you sweep, who manages to come back up to try and pass again. It wasn't that the sweep or pass didn't work, it was the fact that you didn't have control of them after that pass or sweep. As I am rolling I can see it now: my partner is working a pass, they get passed the legs, and they immediately try to drop for the cross face and underhook. It works doesn't it..? Not often. If you don't have control of the bottom player's hips, it is very unliikely that you will have the time to actually secure the control position, and usually they will re-set or roll to turtle. The top player then kicks himself for not finishing the pass that he has been working really hard for.

The question here, is where is your insurance..? How do you insure your pass..? How do you make sure that the pass you are using succeeds? Where is your fallback plan..?

The answer lies in hip control. If towards the end of the pass you are thinking: "How do I shut down his hips?" Then you are starting to understand the 'insurance' process. I am saying in my head, "That pass was a freaking nightmare, but I'm almost there now, how do I stop him turtling or re-gaining..?" It is my priority to secure and shut down the hips, and from there worry about progressing my position, or searching for the submission.

Stage 3 - Progression/Submission

This is where it really depends on you. Do you want mount..? If so, you will want different grips to if you wanted to set up a paper-cutter. Thie important thing to note is that you need time to make that decision. If you establish control properly, you can decide how to progress that roll. If you have time and control on your side, then you are far more likely to establish a better position or the submission.

So those are the three stages.

So ask yourself... What is your favourite pass..? Great. What control do you take after the pass..? The usual answer will be, 'What ever position I can get!' That is not the right answer. Think about how much control you have after the pass, and increase it. Begin to shut down the opponent's game after the pass as well as before it. All of a sudden your rolls will feel more controlled, you will have decisions to make that don't just happen in the blink of an eye, and the bottom players will feel far more frustrated by you.

Where does this theory fit..? Well it fits very nicely into 'imposing your will.' It is all about being in control and removing options from your opponent. Do you ever see Rafa Mendes lose the berimbolo..? Marcelo Garcia and Ryan Hall place great emphasis on what you do during the transitions. Rarely will you see any of them lose position once they have gained it.

So that's it. My plateau buster. When I'm about to pass/sweep, I'm thinking about where my grips go next, and prioritising control. How simple is that..? Obviously, it goes without saying that the best grips are the ones that do all three stages at once without ever having to let go... So Michael Langhi's double sleeve grip - sweep - knee on belly - submission without ever letting go would be the ultimate in grip efficiency, as would Kron's collar grip to guillotine.

There's vids in the actual post :-)

I don't want to say it was "divine inspiration" or whatever, but one day I suddenly realized that nearly half of all BJJ techniques can be done on BOTH sides of the body.

Like, for instance, the Armbar can be done on the right or left arm --same with the Kimura. The Triangle Choke though, similar to the Omoplata, can only be done on one side of the body. But then again, inexplicably, the Americana can be done on either arm! --Kind of a major "Whooooa" moment for me.

Not sure why no one ever discovered all this before. Like I said, I don't think it was God or whatever, but I DO seem to have a lot of insight into the art for some strange reason.

I started smiling while training. It relaxes my body and mind and I find things that I never saw while grunting and trying to force things.

I think one of the biggest for me was after maybe a year or two of training when I finally figured out how to "roll" rather than fight / struggle (those words aren't exactly right, but those of you who know what I am talking about understand what I'm getting at).

I like to look upon rolling as two entities blending, rather than two entities colliding. Which is really the essence of the soft art.

Before you jump on me, I am speaking a bit metaphorically here. There's always a time for smashing. I started in the Carlson lineage, so I am keen to putting on the top pressure. ;P

I learned reading the Atama forum does not a better Jiu Jitsu practitioner make. Phone Post 3.0

Practice does!

Woohoo training time! Phone Post 3.0

Realizing after 2 years that it was almost always easier to move myself than to move my opponent.

My first and only real epiphany came after about a year of training. I realized just how much I improved from seeking out people that are much better than me to roll with. Initially I generally just wanted to roll with people around my level or below. Obviously I wanted to gets taps. My rationalization was that some real life attacker isn't likely to attack me with bjj, therefore I should be more focused on my submission game. The epiphany came when I realized that type of thinking was just my ego talking.

future_jabroni - My first and only real epiphany came after about a year of training. I realized just how much I improved from seeking out people that are much better than me to roll with. Initially I generally just wanted to roll with people around my level or below. Obviously I wanted to gets taps. My rationalization was that some real life attacker isn't likely to attack me with bjj, therefore I should be more focused on my submission game. The epiphany came when I realized that type of thinking was just my ego talking.

Before I competed at my last tourney, a NAGA, I basically rolled exclusively with this guy who schooled me day in and day out.  I got tapped out so many times.  I probably didn't tap anyone out in training the two weeks leading up.  Just rolling with skilled guys.  But tournament rolled around and I subbed both my opponents quick.  Only way to get better though it's so hard on the ego.

of course....everyone has them. its when you finally understand.

I was rolling with Jon Burke one day, a guy who has influenced my game a lot. He is a BB under Royce. I pushed him into a sweep and he kinda just went over. At first I was proud of myself and then I thought 'that was too easy'. I looked at him and he was grinning a little. I said to him, "you dont give a shit, do you"? He replied with a huge grin at this time: "no" and shook his head. It was a huge moment for me (I was either a brown or BB at the time cant recall exactly).

when you stop caring if you get swept, reversed, tapped, you will get better.

stop caring lets you flow.

you have to get better at every and all positions to get a BB.

stop caring and you will get better

as cheesy as it sounds. years ago after reading the dragon ball manga from start to finish. the author has a comment that he hopes we can all tackle life with enthusiasm like goku. it completely changed my mind set for training. i learned to just enjoy training and not take it so damn seriously. enjoying the grind, meeting new people, winning, losing and just the experience of it all. i still have good days and bad days but my overall morale with jiujitsu has skyrocketed alot. be enthusiastic

When I realized how little I know about jiu jitsu Phone Post

I didn't know how to shrimp correctly for months! I would try to push the opponent away. Then it hit me. Why don't I move myself?! I go tell my professor and he's like "duh. That's why we do shrimping drills everyday where you move yourself."
I felt like such a dumbass. Phone Post 3.0

Going to train at small unheard-of academies in Brazil presented me with about 24 epiphanies every training.