Tracking and Improvement in BJJ Training
Robson Moura is a hero of mine in the BJJ world, and one of the coolest things I ever got to do was take a private lesson with him. Definitely a wake-up call to how good a lighter grappler can be at guard passing, and an interesting experience of grappling someone with fundamentals so solid, but who can also put up with (and counter) all the new-school craziness of inverted guard and 50-50 (as evidenced by his victories over Ryan Hall [another grappler who’s game I admire] and many others).
I was lucky enough to catch up with Robson recently on the phone, and we caught up on a lot of topics, but most notably we talked about goal setting and progress tracking in BJJ, a topic that I (as a bit of a nerd) am very interested in. With skill development as the focus of my Master’s Thesis, getting the perspective of world champs is the best way to add to the knowledge base and provide a real, tested perspective.
Though not ALL of the audio below is audible (Robson was on the phone not Skype), I recorded his core BJJ goal-setting insights below, in addition to including the transcript to check out below. Here are my key take-aways:
- Tracking progress each time you train allows you to stay motivated and see more of where you need help – which will show you patterns of problem and success areas over time
- Without a conscious process of reflection, it’s difficult to identify problem areas, and it’s also difficult to tell where you need a specific new move to help round out your game
- You should go into training sessions with something on your mind to work on, something to measure your success by (number of omoplata’s attempted, number of times getting a certain half guard sweep, etc…), as this gives you an area of focus each time you step on the mat and prevents you from just “going through the motions”
What’s YOUR goal for training today? Keep the concepts in mind and keep improving faster than the average Joe.
I wanted to say an extra thank you to Master Robson Moura for taking the time for the interview, check out his new JiuJitsuTracker website to see how his students are tracking and improving their games.
Sample of Real Interview Transcript with Robson:
Dan: My last couple questions here, Robson, because I get off the phone with you, one of which was your perspectives on goal setting in jiu-jitsu, tracking your progress in jiu-jitsu.
I know with your students, that’s a big point of emphasis, how they’re making the most of their mat time. You explained a little bit of that today. What is your general advice on students using, whether it’s journaling, tracking their drilling, their rolling, or whatever in terms of goal setting for their jiu-jitsu? What do you recommend for that?
Robson: I recommend that they track their training, and their progress, what improvement they have reached in the past 1 month or 2 months. Every time they touch the mat, they’re going to get better. [40:08 inaudible]. Everyday you go for the [40:12 inaudible] .
Everybody pretty much says, “We saw you.” [40:24 inaudible]. You got to battle. You lunge. When you get beat up, you get up and it goes away. Some people, sometimes, they get so frustrated because they go training.
Somebody attacks me, oh, they don’t see they have to learn from that. They have to learn from their mistakes why that cost them. When you track everything, it can be [40:56 inaudible] what’s the improvement. Does it make sense?
Dan: Big time. Are you talking about if you’re seeing the patterns over a week of time or a month of time, you can see where you’re maybe getting stuck or getting caught the most? If you keep getting stuck in the arm bar or get hit with a cross choke, maybe if you track it more seriously, then you can look back and see what you’re succeeding with, what you need to work on?
Dan: Do you recommend that people set goals for how many repetitions they’re going to do of certain moves or how much time they’re going to spend working takedowns? “I’m going to do at least a half an hour every week, I’m going to do takedown practice, blah, blah, blah.”
Do you recommend in addition to tracking what happened, setting goals for the day or for the week, things like that? How do your students do that?
Robson: Goals for the day. If they train a half hour a day, I’m going to try to do as many [42:30 inaudible] as I can. [42:32 inaudible] Then after my training, I can go, “Okay, today was good. I was able to [42:38 inaudible].” That sounds good.
[42:48 inaudible] set your mind, set your goals, what you want to do. [42:56 inaudible] Any instructor, our job is to break down techniques and break down the game. If the students [43:17 inaudible] they don’t actually try [43:22 inaudible].
Some guys are great in one technique, good in other ones, and weak in other ones, but that doesn’t mean that doesn’t have to change because you never know where you’re going to need a move.
Dan: I really like there’s a lot of emphasis in what you’re saying on experimenting on your own and trying everything, figuring out everything, figuring out the adjustments and the tweaks with your body types, with your opponent’s body type and see if it works. I’m really going to write down that idea of I believe in every move in jiu-jitsu.
I think that’s a really interesting philosophy actually and applying that to drilling is pretty cool. I know quickly, it’s a last topic because I know I wanted to bring it up. I’ve heard some noise about it coming up. I got to talk to your guy Doug about it a bit. I know you guys are going to be coming out with the jiu-jitsu tracker.
Give a little bit of detail as to what jiu-jitsu tracker is all about or how people can find it.
Robson: I actually have worked on this Web site over the last two and a half years, JiuJitsuTracker.com. With way before they could get online training, we had the idea. It’s as your body, adjust the technique. [44:56 inaudible].
Jiu-jitsu tracker, you go there and can track what you have picked up by now, track your progress, track every week, however many times you’re able to upload how many times they got you. Track the competition interaction, how you lost or how you won.
When you track that, you can see your progress and you can do online training. It’s going to be much easier to combine everything for you. Then it’s going to realize the improvement, especially for the guys who don’t have a lot of time to train every week or everyday. That’s the best way to do it.
Sometimes, [46:04 inaudible]. They work on a technique or two. The guy is kind of lost. They give up. [46:16 inaudible]. Now, if he’s a member of JiuJitsuTracker.com, it keeps track of everything even though [46:30 inaudible] so when he goes back on the track, he goes, “Oh yeah, I remember this. I can remember what I did two weeks ago.”
I think that is really good. It’s not just an online training like everybody is doing. It’s a jiu-jitsu tracker for online training. It’s a really nice Web site. It put a long time to put together. We’re really happy and excited. Your people are really going to enjoy that a lot.