Learn to slow down – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

An interesting scenario played out last week in both the sparring class and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class/open mat. I figured since it happened twice it must of happened for a reason so I thought I would share.

First in the Thai Boxing Level II class: The class emphasis this day was “counters to the cross”. First we discussed all the possible options and then we drilled each. Drilling was done in a progressive manner with the opponent working on cross counters specifically. For instance: Round 1 partner throws a Jab – Cross and you go thru the counters. Round 2 partners throws Jab – Rear Kick – Cross and again you work on defending and countering the Cross – you get the idea. The goal is for the student to “drill” each option to find which works for him/her and in what scenario (finding what works for you is an important concept that will be covered at a different time). Then sparring began and the speed and intensity gradually increased. Needless to say not many pulled off any new Cross Counters during their sparring rounds instead they fell back into their comfort zone and used counters they were previously accustomed to.

A couple days later in our Sarasota Jiu Jitsu class a similar scenario transpired. Class started as usual with a warm up – drilling of a standup self defense technique and then we worked a position specific technique, a closed guard sweep. We drilled the sweep by itself first and then put the sweep in a sequence of moves as well. Lastly we put the sweep in a shark drill with partner providing progressive resistance. Some even stopped and took notes (another subject for a different time). When class ended, open mat began – students paired up and asked their two questions: 1. Any injuries old or new? 2. How hard or fast do you want to roll? (Thank you Allan Baker for these two gems.). The answer to the second question was interesting. Virtually all that rolled with me stated “I don’t know or care”. When I watched over the class how many do you think attempted the closed guard sweep we drilled in class – correct not many.


In class we have discussed many times the importance of drilling and repetition of techniques and combinations. The number of times you need to “drill” a technique is unique to each student. Many experts state you need at least 5000 repetitions before it comes out naturally during your sparring or rolling. However if you roll or spar in the 80-100% range you are NOT learning but instead surviving or end up using techniques that are already ingrained in you.

The analogy I used in class was something I borrowed from Guro Dan. Imagine you’re driving a car down a highway. Your destination has been given to you with clear instructions as to which Exit to take in order to arrive at your destination but the faster you drive the faster the “Exit signs” are blurring by, some you don’t even see at all. Now if you’re familiar with the route, no problem you instinctively exit where you need to. But if the route is not familiar, you need to slow down and read the signs.

If you spar or roll in the 50-70% range (or less if need be) your ability will skyrocket. By slowing down you have time to “exit” where needed and your confidence increases and you learn and sometimes find your own “Exit Signs”. To accomplish this it’s important to have a partner you trust, train with an egoless attitude (tap early and often) and most important have fun.

As Master Sauer says learn to Play Jiu-Jitsu.

Kru / Coach Ted