First of all, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to my friend, training partner, and all around good guy, Arkeif Robinson, who won gold at the NoGi Pan Ams this past weekend! I honestly would have been surprised if you hadn’t come back with the gold! Now, onto the post.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I got my blue belt in 6 months. How did I do it? Am I some sort of physical specimen with crazy attributes? Did I wrestle, do judo, or some other form of grappling art prior to BJJ? No…and no. What did I do? It’s rather simple. I planned.
Now, I’d first like to input a disclaimer that what I’m outlining will in no way guarantee that you get to your next belt level. And, in all honestly, it shouldn’t be used for that. If you truly love jiu-jitsu, then use the method below as I did. Use it to improve your jiu-jitsu game for you, yourself, and not some belt. As Royce Gracie said, “A belt only covers two inches of your butt. You have to cover the rest.” Focus on yourself, and the belt will come in due time.
Anyway, I talk to a lot of guys on the mat and they just seem to be training like they’re in the ocean. They’re going this way and that way, falling in and out of waves, and adding an odd assortment of things to their jiu-jitsu game. They just work on “whatever” and see where it takes them. As I started BJJ, I looked at my progress as I would going to college. I saw the end goal as my overall jiu-jitsu game improving, so therefore I took the necessary steps (college classes) to try and reach my goal. Think about it. People would think you were crazy if you went to college for a bachelors in history, but picked random classes to attend, instead of asking a counselor and looking up the required classes in the college catalog.
So, what did I do for BJJ? I researched online, asked online, asked my instructor, and so on and so forth, about what basics I needed to know. Eventually, I was led to Roy Dean’s Blue Belt Requirements, after several recommendations, and planned out my progress based on the DVD. I took one technique a week and would watch it every single day, which would only take 5-6 minutes. While watching, I would write down the steps for the technique to further cement it into my mind. I would then “shadow roll”, thinking about the required steps to execute the technique. And finally, during rolling in class, I would focus on attempting that single technique.
Now, for a beginner, I think the above is a perfect outline of how to go about getting better. If your brand new, try my method. But, as you near experienced blue belt level and above, that week of practicing a single technique, becomes 4-5 months of concentrating on a technique and it’s variations. I’m continuing in my planning by researching and asking and I’ve seen my game improve. I know that if I faced me as a day one blue belt, I would obliterate myself.
What I’m trying to say is, we need to not just train hard, but smart.