A crucial aspect of training, be it in BJJ or in your supplementary physical training, is the concept of intention. Creating and keeping in mind the focus and goals of your training sessions are almost more important than doing the work itself.
We live in a society where scattered attention spans are becoming the norm. So being able to stay locked in with the focus on your training objectives and tasks will pay off in a huge way. It’s easy to show up anywhere, but can you show up and focus on your training objectives until you’ve completed your session for the day? That’s mental muscle.
General Focus to an Area of the Game
You should always have your mind attached to a general theme that you’re seeking to improve. Guard passing, leg locks, back attacks —you have a host of choices. Narrow your focus to a general area.
For me, currently, it’s guard passing, as this is the one area of the game where I don’t have a system of reads and techniques.
When you’re not physically on the mats training, watch an instructional (two at most) on this area of the game. I’m currently studying Gordan Ryan’s passing DVD as well as Vagner Rocha’s. If you do study two at a time like I am, seek to use two that flow together. I purposely chose these two because they have passing that is quite similar. Study in your downtime, and make a list of the techniques you would like to drill and apply.
When you watch LIVE rolling, seek to watch the guys you’re studying and the specific scenarios played out in live competition. This will help you build a kinesthetic feel for the movements and where they will occur in the roll.
Narrow This Focus
When you go to train now, you should have a list of techniques you would like to 1. drill and 2. have passing situations and ultimately techniques you would like to face in live rolling.
Drilling certain moves is quite easy. All you need is a willing training partner to give you the reads you need and you perform the technique.
This next part of this is a little more difficult. In my situation, I’m seeking to build guard passing that not only nullifies leg lockers, but also punishes them with back attacks and more when they open up beneath me. This means I actually have to give an opening to leg entries so I can work on the exact passing sequences I want to improve.
Maybe even ask your training partner to help you by entering the specific areas you’re looking to improve so you can get those opportunities. I’m sure you’ll find someone to help you out.
Although this requires the mental muscle of focus, you’ll find quicker increases in the areas of your game you put intention towards. All it takes is some discipline to not get caught up in the rabbit holes that jiu-jitsu provides for our easily distracted nature.
Keep a notebook, have influences you’re excited to learn from, and keep that focus throughout your sessions.
I cover more performance training tidbits with my ebook “The Foundations of Movement Autonomy, Vitality, and Performance” that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!