Jan 23

Building a firm foundation in a non-ideal environment

Behold this message that came in on the book of faces recently from Mike Lamarche:

“I come from a small town in Ontario where jiu-jitsu is a couple hours away. Our dojo had open up and we kind of do self training also video tutorials from out affiliate Chino Jiu-jitsu. I just wanted to know from your opinion, what would be a good foundation of things to know and learn in my situation.”

I like questions like this.

Right off the bat, it shows that Mike is really thinking about how he can improve even in a situation that isn’t ideal for learning the art.

He’s in a small town. There’s no high level instructors around. And he can only depend on video and trial and error.

It sounds hopeless, but it’s not.

In fact, it can be an opportunity.

First though, let me answer this question.

My philosophy about building a good foundation is that you must start with a focus on movement. No other aspect of the game can restrict you or unleash your ability like movement can.

Generally, when I look at people struggle with technique, it’s not because they don’t know what to do. It’s because they can’t figure how to tell their body to do what they want, either because of physical limitations or motor skills.

There’s nothing wrong with that. It just means that you’ve discovered something that can be improved on.

And the best place to start that development is the shrimp, bridge and roll. Those three movements form a large percentage of the game on the bottom. And they can be easily drilled with or without a partner.

Then when you expand out from there, you have to find more and more drills that will allow you to replicate and improve movement.

That’s the best way to build a firm foundation.

Now here’s why it’s an opportunity:

Once upon a time my coach, Mike Moses, told me a story about what it was like training twenty years ago.

At the time, he was in the same situation as Mike Lamarche.

There were almost no high level instructors in the area and learning opportunities were slim. He had the bug though. He wanted to learn, but most of his instruction was coming from someone who was a blue belt at the time.

So they didn’t have access to a lot of technique (dark times, indeed). But, every little bit of knowledge they found was drilled ad nauseum.

He became really good at a small subset of the game, a true specialist, and that was enough to start absolutely ripping through the competition scene.

Quality over quantity.

Take what lesson you want from that.

But know this, improving movement through time and effort is the key to building a firm foundation.

And for more tips, tricks and stories that will help you expand your game, sneak into my newsletter: