Willie Laney is creator of the Straight Jacket BJJ DVD and this Free “Gi-Only” Technique Series.
Often times in BJJ the question arises and we debate about who is the best Jiu Jitsu player. Is it the “Big Guys” like Cyborg or Buchecha? Is it a dynamic guy like an Andre Galvao? A guy who’s carrying the family torch like Kron, or an up and coming new breed like Keenan Cornelius? Or, perhaps, it’s a small flashy guy like Caio Terra or the Mendez Bros or maybe it’s a past great like Marcelo Garcia, Roger Gracie, or the legendary Rickson Gracie.
I’m sure anyone you ask has an opinion or a strong feeling about who they believe is number one and they would be more than happy to weigh in on the topic. Honestly, I think you could make a case for any of the guys listed above, but regardless who we think is the best, we all have our “reasons” for why we believe them to be.
I personally feel that the answer is “it depends.” To answer that question, it would depend on what your judging criteria are, be it over all championships, overall game, pound for pound, winning the absolute, or what have you. But I think the real reason for our favorites is much deeper than that. I think that the real reason that we may feel a certain way comes down to how we relate our own game those players, at a subconscious level. I believe that fundamentally our feeling derive from our own game and the desires to be able to do certain things on the mat. Modeling the best in BJJ is an important tip that I’ve mentioned as a crucial step to skill development in a number of previous articles, but as well know – repetition is king.
If you are a Berimbolo kind of guy, you probably think Mendez Bros. If you like a strong passing game, you’d probably say Andre Galvao. If you love taking the Back, chances are your pick is Marcelo Garcia, and I could go on and on. But my point is, something in their games resonates with you personally. Something in their game makes you like their style of Jiu Jitsu and makes you want to emulate them or to put aspects of their game into your own game.
So how do you become more like the best? How do you “transplant” parts of their game into your own game? More importantly, how do you do it successfully and where do you start?
With literally thousands of moves and techniques in Jiu Jitsu and endless ways to of combining them, this can be quite a daunting task; which brings us back to the question, “so where do you start?”
To be like or to become the best, common sense would dictate, that you have to train like the best. Your next question might then be, “so what do the best do?”
If I had to sum this up in one word, that word would be REPETITION. There’s NO QUESTION that these guys rep and train hard. Some of these guys have been doing BJJ all there life, practically since birth, and all of them train repetition of technique.
So why is repetition so important? Science has proven that it takes about 10,000 times of doing a task for it to become second nature. That’s 10,000 reps of the same techniques, which equates to hours upon hours, of honing your skill.
We’ve all heard the sayings, “practice makes perfect” or “repetition is the father of learning” or some variation along those lines, but what do they really mean?
Practice in of itself is rep’ing, but the question now becomes what are you suppose to practice. And if repetition leads to learning, what do you really want to learn?
With that in mind, your next question is probably, “what do you rep,” and the answer to that depends on what is your goal. Note that I said, what IS your goal (singular), not what ARE your goals (plural).
Now I could write an entire book on goal setting and skill development (and perhaps I will), but I don’t have the ink or the space to do that in the scope of this article. So let’s focus on one key take away item that the best focus on.
The best BJJ players focus on the basics and do them better than anyone else. They aren’t “Jacks of all trades”. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
They become Highly Specialized at one skill, like Andre’s passes, or Marcelo’s Arm Drags and Back Takes. Or an entire position like Ricardo De La Riva’s revolutionary, De La Riva Guard. They may even focus solely on one specific move, like 10X World Champion Roger Gracie’s legendary Cross Choke.
The key to being like the best is to take things away from your game (the things that you haven’t mastered) and be highly focused on the few things that DO work.
So what are you going to focus on?
– Daniel Faggella / Willie Laney (Founder of the Straight Jacket BJJ DVD http://thestraightjacketdvd.com/)