This is a question that I’ve wondered about.
Intuitively, I’ve felt that the answer was a clear and emphatic no. The issue was that I only had my own experience to draw from.
Now from two different sources within a very small time frame, I’ve been introduced to a concept that has the potential of answering the question once and for all.
I recently read Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin and The Unexpected Champion by Dan Fagella. Both books reference Anders Ericsson’s research on skill development.
He coined the term Deliberate Practice to describe the method that top performers utilize in order to become great. In order for practice to be deliberate though, there are four conditions:
- It is focused on improving performance in specific areas
- It is thoroughly challenging mentally
- It is repeatable over a long duration of time
- It isn’t always enjoyable.
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? It’s definitely not easy though.
If you take a moment to think about it, there is an activity in BJJ that fulfills most of those conditions. It’s drilling.
Speaking personally, there comes a point when drilling just isn’t fun. It doesn’t take long to reach that point either. It’s one of the best methods of improving within specific areas in a short amount of time though.
One thing that is really interesting to me every time that I go down to TLI HQ in Camp Springs is how they incorporate drilling into the class structure. They actually have classes that are focused only on drilling.
I’ve never seen that anywhere else.
Does This Really Relate Directly to BJJ
I don’t think it is possible to become really good with just drilling alone. It may be possible to do so in non-fighting sports like baseball or swimming but not BJJ.
Rolling is essential, and no roll is ever the same.
There is a way to practice deliberately even during rolls though. It’s also the main way that I’ve learned personally.
- Go in with a plan
- Be aware of everything that is going on during
- Do a mental review afterward
I applied those methods recently. I had been thinking about training experiences when I was a white belt, and I decided to try the ezekiel from more positions.
During a great training session a few days ago, I got the choke from side control, half guard, and closed guard. I don’t usually go for that choke in any of those positions, but I made the conscious decision to do so.
I already feel that I am better as a result.