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  • Strategies To Win In Your Training To Make Your Jiu-Jitsu The Best Ever

People learn and do Jiu-Jitsu to find a better “tribe” or to be “better” individuals themselves. Often, we look to be “better” because we don’t like our current situation or skill set because we “lost” something one too many times to where we want a change. In this series, we’ll take your “winning” in a couple different directions - Obvious wins, obscure “wins,” short-term wins, and long-term wins.


First, let’s start off with a definition of “a win.” - To be successful or victorious in a contest or a conflict. 


If there’s anything Jiu-Jitsu is, it’s a CONSTANT STATE OF CONFLICT. We are always battling something. It can be the battle of learning something we’ve never had any occasion to do (like shrimp movements, playing a guard (especially for men), being under “attack,” or “digging deep” to come out of a (seemingly, because it’s simulated) bad situation.


Obvious Wins


An “Obvious” win is one where there is a definite winner and loser. You coming out on top in a street fight or a physical altercation is an obvious one. You submitting someone, is an obvious win. If you’re in a competition, if your hand gets raised by the ref when standing next to your opponent, that is an obvious win.


At first, these will be few and far between if you’re just starting Jiu-Jitsu.


But they WILL come as your knowledge, understanding, and skill increase.


These wins are most easily attained through knowledge - you increase your knowledge, you will know more ways to win. 


It’s as simple as that.


Obscure “Wins”


An “Obscure” win is one that comes about without you actually realizing it at first. They come as a byproduct of your training. Here are some examples of obscure “wins.”


  1. Greater physical conditioning (You can last the duration of class without feeling the need to vomit)
  2. Better quality of sleep (You’re sleeping longer and more soundly)
  3. An improved body composition (“Honey, I can see my abs!!”)
  4. Increased strength (“I never thought I’d be able to do 100 pushups.”)
  5. Improved muscle tone (“Damn, Mister, I never realized your arms felt so solid!”)
  6. Greater calm in everyday situations (“Bro, why you stressin’?”)
  7. Better problem solving skills
  8. You walk around now with an air of quiet confidence because you can control your emotions vs how you could not a year ago (Lookit that guy... something about him...)
  9. You have a new circle of successful friends who genuinely care for your well being
  10. Your work life improves drastically


Short-Term Wins


A Short-Term win is exactly that - a win that has little lasting value. An everyday life thing that is an example of a short-term win? How about eating candy? You have a craving for sweets, and you satisfy that craving by grabbing a Twix (one I particularly like). Short-term, AWESOME WIN! Long-Term? Well, it depends on if you make eating Twix a regular habit or not. Regular consumption of stuff like Twix will mess your body up in more ways than one. You an excessive consumer of alcohol? You feel like crap. You take that drink. You feel relaxed. You have several more. You feel better. Tomorrow morning? You feel like crap (again). After years of doing that, your doc says your liver is “shot.”


In both cases, short term “wins” were just that - “wins.”


In Jiu-Jitsu, making it a criteria for your success to have a training session where you are submitting everyone you train with (“winning”) certainly feels good. But what are the consequences of having that mentality?


  1. You only do concepts and techniques you are familiar/proficient with. Over, and over, and over...
  2. You needlessly submit your opponents more often than is needed (often, with the same submission from #1).
  3. Opponents who are victims of your training tire of getting their asses kicked by you and choose opponents they have a chance of beating
  4. You stop choosing to train with people who can easily beat you or present you with a great challenge because you HAVE to win (I’ve seen this countless times)
  5. And most importantly, YOU STAGNATE in your development (because you never try new things that present new challenges)


Short-term wins are necessary at times to help you establish a “mentality of winning.” However, like eating candy, too many of them can be a bad thing longer-term. 


Best thing in using short-term wins to your advantage? Use short-term wins to “get you going.” 


And then stop seeking the short term win.


As Newton postulated, his first law of motion teaches us that “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” 


YOU NEED SHORT-TERM WINS at times to create some “positive momentum” (forward motion) for yourself. If you keep losing, you’re “moving backward.” So first, find something for yourself you can classify as “a win.” It can be as simple as “getting out from bottom.” It doesn’t have to be an actual submission. CHOOSE SOMETHING EASY. 


Then, choose another.


And another.


Get yourself into a mindset of having the ability to create a “string” of short-term wins.


Then, start looking at more constructive behaviors to engage in (even if you lose in the short-term engaging in those attempts). Slowly make these new behaviors your “regular activity” and you will be MUCH further along in what you’re trying to achieve. If you get to a point where you’re feeling a little worn out, tired, or dejected, make some short-term wins happen until you feel better, and then back to the grind of creating LONG-TERM wins!


Long-Term Wins


Long-Term wins come about from extended periods of time where you work, work, and continue to work to achieve something SIGNIFICANT that has a lasting benefit or meaning. For us Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, the obvious long-term win is to someday earn a black belt.


Long-term wins come about from regularly DELAYING short-term satisfaction/gratification so you can reap a larger reward later. An everyday life example of engaging in some short-term pain for a long-term win would be saving for a house. You make sacrifices daily, weekly, and monthly by eating in, driving an old car longer than you’d have wished, wearing last year’s clothing for another few years, and staying in that one bedroom apartment for 5 years instead of the originally planned 12 months. As a result, you ended up saving tens of thousands of dollars so you can put a down payment on your very first home!


In Jiu-Jitsu, those who are successful have a mindset of delaying the short-term satisfaction of beating those at their level and below so they can end up having the ability to beat EVERYONE later on.


That mindset is hard to keep doing, but it’s NECESSARY for your future success.


How do you do that? Easy (well, it’s not THAT easy), don’t be so hell bent on beating everyone you train with. For example, you’re a purple belt. You know you can easily beat all the white belts in sparring, and you can beat all the blue belts, albeit with a little more effort. Instead of tapping ANY of them with what you’re good at (you’ve beat them all with a handful of techniques), try to tap them ONLY with techniques you suck at.

What?! How am I supposed to do that?

Easy, take an inventory of what you’re NOT good/comfortable with (escaping from mount, for example) and let everyone you’re better than have it on you. 


Then, escape the position.


At first, you will lose a LOT. But over time, you’ll find that you’re more and more comfortable under mount. You learn how to be (and remain) safe under the position. Soon, you begin to understand more and more of the details for an effective escape and over time, you’re able to escape the mount from under the best of practitioners. Your newly developed abilities would have not come about if you were insistent upon winning every time, against every opponent. You HAVE to be willing to take the long view on your progress by redefining the definition of “a win.”


At the end of the day, classify your wins in Jiu-Jitsu into 1) the Obvious, 2) the Obscure, 3) the Short-Term, and finally, 4) the Long-Term. Treat them altogether differently (a win is NOT a “win”) by recognizing their purpose(s) and you’ll be winning at everything!

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