Drill, Baby, Drill! – BJJ Fanatics

Share the joy


I was just looking at another blogger’s post on BJJ Fanatics about the importance of open mat.  And, I want to say, first of all, that I agree with every word in that blog.  You should read it.

I’ll even add that, sometimes, I think I learn more from open mats than from classes.  If I don’t know how an opponent submitted me, I ask and they tell me. It makes everyone happy.  They get an ego boost from the fact that I’m complimenting them by asking them to share their knowledge, and I get the knowledge.  Open mat is especially fun when you can convince an upper belt to show you some moves from the upper belt curriculum that you aren’t supposed to know yet!  (Insert evil laugh here.)

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The other side of the coin is drilling.  And you need both sides of a coin for it to be worth anything.

I’m sorry to say it, but drilling is not as fun as open mat.  It’s not nearly as fun as rolling.  But it’s every bit as important.  

Drilling leads to muscle memory.  And muscle memory is the prize we all want.  Why? Because muscle memory side-steps conscious thought.  Being a teacher, I’m a big fan of thinking, but as a Jiu Jitero, I know that muscle memory is faster.

Instead of thinking, “Okay, first I have to do A, then I have to do B, then I have to do C…,” muscle memory allows you to execute all of those moves in one continuous flow.

Drilling is what makes your movements look smooth.

But, more importantly, drilling is what guarantees that—in the heat of competition—you are able to do what you’re supposed to do.

While drilling isn’t as sexy as rolling, it does have one advantage over rolling.  It’s more accessible. There are plenty of drills and moves that don’t require mats and that you can practice outside of the dojo.

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This means that, if you’re willing to embrace the boredom, you can get in that extra work and improve even faster.

The one trick to drilling is to do it consciously and carefully.  Sloppy drilling will just make matters worse because it will train you to be sloppy.  You want to keep in mind every detail that your coach covered. You want to do the steps in the exact order your coach did.  And you want to make sure to hit every fine point.

Drilling is best done slowly—at least at first.  After a while, you can add speed to your drills. But if you start making mistakes, that’s a clear sign that you need to slow back down for the time being.

In drilling, speed is earned.  Increasing speed is your reward for nailing each and every detail.  

So, while you definitely want to muster up the courage and enjoy the excitement of open mats.  I also want to suggest that you embrace the boredom of drilling. When you put them both together, you’ll start seeing results even faster.

Professor DeBlass has your drilling and warm up covered!. These are great movement-based exercises that you can use to warm up, flow roll, or do on your own time to stay active and engaged on your own. Check out the DVD “Solo And Partner Grappling Drills For Rapid Improvement“. BJJ Fanatics has it here!

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