Recently, I transcribed some parts of a great interview with Rickson Gracie where he discusses the value of what he refers to as “partial training.”
Check out what Rickson had to say below.
More commonly, I have heard this method described as specific or positional training.
In fact, I have seen this training method widely used in both Brazil and North America for both beginners and black belts. I have interviewed multiple time World Champions who love positional sparring as a way to sharpen their game plan before a major tournament. Positional sparring is also the best way for brand new students to get their very first live rolling experience.
Here are a few ideas on how to use positional training in your jiu-jitsu:
1) Use it for a beginner’s first roll.
In order to roll in a productive way, you need to have some idea of what to do in all of the major ground positions. If you have no idea of how to pass a closed guard or escape side control…what do you do? You thrash about using full strength and survival instincts just hoping to avoid getting tapped? Not the most productive! In a boxing gym, you wouldn’t be thrown into the ring to spar your first day.
Instead, doing limited training with set rules on the position that you learned that class will allow you to actually try the techniques that you just learned. Well-defined objectives (see next tip) will simplify things and allow even the freshest “noob” to get started rolling.
2) Set defined rules
As opposed the the chaos of free rolling, you establish the limited objectives of the positional sparring ahead of time.
For example :
Turtle: Top turtle tries to choke, put in the hooks for four points back mount or break down turtle to establish side control. Bottom turtle tries to regain guard, reverse the position to top — for example, using a single leg takedown — or even submit.
Mount : Top mount maintains the position and tries to submit with an armlock or choke, and take the back. Bottom mount tries to regain guard or half guard, reverse, or get to their feet and stand up. Once the position has changed, don’t continue to mount or attacking from side. Reset back to the original position and start again!
3) Experiment and try things.
There is great value in learning what does not work as well as what does. If a certain grip or hook is causing the technique to fail and be countered, that is valuable information.
Positional training is the time to try things. So what if your idea doesn’t work? So what if your guard got passed? Now you know. You just return to the starting position and give it another try. Change it up a little and see what happens! Behind many innovations in jiu-jitsu techniques, there have been hours of this type of experimentation.
This experimental attitude is essential to deep learning of the nuances and micro adjustments that can be make or break for many techniques.