The Mendes Brothers On: Improving Your Game

March 24, 2012
3 minutes read


Getting better at grappling… In the past 10 years the Mendes brothers have done a lot of it. From Rafa’s “raising up” and defeating Cobrinha as a young age, to Gui’s first world championship – the

Rafael Mendes takes the back of Cobrinha in the finals of the 2009 ADCC.

grappling community has been in relative “awe” regarding their success.

I first saw Rafa’s match (when he was 17, I believe) against Bruno Frazato at the Brazilian ADCC trials and I remember thinking “this kid is unreal.” Sure is.

You can bet that when I had the opportunity to interview these guys (some of which took place in a great little random pizza joint near Joe Capizzi’s gym in Staten Island, NY), one of the first things I wanted to know about was how they focus on and develop the various aspects of their game.

Practical Advice on BJJ Game Development from Gui and Rafa Mendes

Rafael and Guillerme had a relatively simple algorithm for building on individual elements on one’s game, and focusing on improvement:

  • Pick 3 Top Techniques to Develop (IE: 3 Leg Drag Techniques)
  • Pick 3 Bottom Techniques to Develop (IE: Arm Drag, 2 Inverted De La Riva Sweeps)
  • Pick 3 Submissions to Develop (IE: Arm Triangle, Anaconda, RNC)

Now if you were to look at Rafa’s full game plan for his 2009 or 2011 ADCC preparations, you’d see 3 months of intensely mapped out sequences, areas of emphasis, physical exercises, etc…



However, when it comes to determining areas of focus in building your Jiu Jitsu game – the brothers have a pretty strait-forward concept to share:

Keep it Simple

They’d likely warn against randomly focusing on a different move each day, or focusing on a single technique at the expense of the rest of your game. In their ‘3x3x3’ model, you can pretty much always be working on a distinct area in your game wherever you are.

If your only focus is sweeps, then what do you have to do when you get on top? Pull guard? Its not the end of the world, but it could certainly hinder the other elements of your game.

Just another perspective to consider when as you build your BJJ game. Be well, and train hard,


-Dan Faggella

 PS: For background knowledge, you might want to read this article about BJJ innovation with the Mendes Bros that I put up a few weeks back. Just download the material by clicking the link.

PPS: Please share a comment on this one! I’m very interested to see if this 3x3x3 concept “clicks” with readers.


Daniel Faggella
Daniel Faggella

Coach Daniel is the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world's best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.

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