Gameplanning for BJJ Competition


Game Planning for BJJ Competition

Professor Tyson LaRone

There are many elements that go into success in competition when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu, or any other martial art for that matter. Many people who compete find themselves scratching their heads after a tournament trying to figure out why something happened the way it did. For example, someone may be notoriously difficult to hold down in side control within their dojo but then in a tournament match they’re easily taken down and smashed there for five minutes. It may also work out positively, where they submit two opponents in a tournament with the same technique that they haven’t hit on any of their training partners in months. Measuring up what you do in the dojo to how you perform in tournaments takes time and repetition just like learning new techniques, ie. doing plenty of tournaments but a lack of consistency or continuity can also come down to poor or non-existent game planning.

Game planning for competition rides the fine line between art and science and can be difficult, but here are some basic guidelines that can help:

  1. Begin at the beginning. “Get a rear naked choke” isn’t an effective game plan because every match starts with several feet between you. You can’t start on their back or teleport there, so don’t get ahead of yourself by thinking primarily about the submission. A gameplan should start with how you want to close the distance and engage the opponent standing.
  2. Be specific. Having a game plan doesn’t mean you can control everything that happens in the match, but you should have a clear idea of what your ideal match would look like from beginning to end. A basic template would be Initial Contact/Tie-up – Takedown – Pass to Final Position – Set-up – Submission. There’s some variability if you pull guard or if perhaps you take them down right into the position you want, but you get the idea. Your plan should include all of these pieces.
  3. Plan for the most likely variables. The intricacy and sheer amount of jiu-jitsu techniques make as many possible matches as there are grains of sand on Earth. You can’t possibly plan for everything, but you should be aware of the most likely deviations you’ll run into and still be able to keep things fairly simple. For example, if your plan begins with Collar Tie – Single Leg Takedown then you should be aware that you’ll likely end up somewhere between squared up with their open guard or knee on belly if you do get the takedown. If your eventual goal is to mount and armbar, then you should drill ways to get there from each of these major possibilities.

Overall competition is nerve-wracking for pretty much everyone, at least at first. That’s part of what makes it worthwhile, as the ultimate test for what you have learned. An effective game plan can be a great way to focus that nervous energy and make it work for you. If you don’t have a game plan, you’re more likely to be reactionary and that not only puts you a step behind but also means you’ll waste more energy on impulsive actions that don’t pan out.

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Some Helpful Tips for New Years Resolutions

It’s that time of year again! On and around January 1st, many peoples’ thoughts will turn to what kind of 2018 they want to have and what positive choices they can make in order to improve their chances. In his article, “The Psychology of New Years’ Resolutions”, Professor of Behavioral Addiction Mark Griffiths lays out the following helpful tips:

Be realistic. You need to begin by making resolutions that you can keep and that are practical. If you want to reduce your alcohol intake because you tend to drink alcohol every day, don’t immediately go teetotal. Try to cut out alcohol every other day or have a drink once every three days. Also, breaking up the longer-term goal into more manageable short-term goals can be beneficial and more rewarding. The same principle can be applied to exercise or eating more healthily.

Do one thing at a time. One of the easiest routes to failure is to have too many resolutions. If you want to be fitter and healthier, do just one thing at a time. Give up drinking. Give up smoking. Join a gym. Eat more healthily. But don’t do them all at once, just choose one and do your best to stick to it. Once you have got one thing under your control, you can begin a second resolution.

Be SMART. Anyone working in a job that includes setting goals will know that goals should be SMART, that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Resolutions shouldn’t be any different. Cutting down alcohol drinking is an admirable goal, but it’s not SMART. Drinking no more than two units of alcohol every other day for one month is a SMART resolution. Connecting the resolution to a specific goal can also be motivating, for example, dropping a dress size or losing two inches off your waistline in time for the next summer holiday.

Tell someone your resolution. Letting family and friends know that you have a New Year’s resolution that you really want to keep will act as both a safety barrier and a face-saver. If you really want to cut down smoking or drinking, real friends won’t put temptation in your way and can help monitor your behaviour. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support from those around you.

Change your behaviour with others. Trying to change habits on your own can be difficult. For instance, if you and your partner both smoke, drink and eat unhealthily, it is really hard for one partner to change their behaviour if the other is still engaged in the same old bad habits. By having the same resolution, such as going on a diet, the chances of success will improve.

The full article can be found at .

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The Benefits of Competition for Kids

Competition has been an integral part of Jiu-Jitsu since the beginning, and whether you compete in Gi, No-Gi, MMA or any other form it is the foundation on which the scientific process of Jiu-Jitsu is built. When it comes to kids’ classes, I’ve always thought of it also as a way for them to prepare emotionally and psychologically for self-defense and other aspects of their lives. You can train hard in the dojo day in, day out, learn the techniques and become a better athlete, but in the place you know surrounded by your friends, teammates and family you’re always going to be somewhat comfortable. At a tournament, competing against other people you may not know in an unfamiliar environment can be overwhelming. You’re more tense and less efficient than normal because of the adrenaline, you’re nervous because of the unknown opponents and their capabilities, and you don’t want to lose. You may even be afraid, and feel as though you don’t remember anything. Despite all of that, you step on the mats and fight nonetheless. This is exactly the kind of cocktail of emotional and physical symptoms that occur in a real-world self-defense situation, and tournaments offer a safe (and fun!) way to practice your ability to perform better in that state.

Inevitably, tournaments will also provide opportunities to deal with the concept of winning and losing. All sports do this to some extent, of course, but there’s something a bit more primal, and more visceral about winning or losing in martial arts. The thing is, jiu-jitsu is so infinitely variable that it’s pretty much impossible to go undefeated for long. Not only do I not personally know any undefeated jiu-jitsu fighters, I don’t even know OF any. The first few tournaments a kid does can be an emotional struggle one way or the other, but over time they begin to be able to approach their wins and losses more objectively, extracting lessons from them about what needs to be worked on to push to the next level. This is an essential skill for long-term success not only in jiu-jitsu but life in general. In relationships, business, financial and family matters, being able to view successes and failures as potential lessons and opportunities to grow is a great lesson for a child, and jiu-jitsu makes an excellent teacher.

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“King of the Mat” Drilling – The What and Why


Deighton proudly showing off his “King of the Mat” belt along with fellow contender and brother Nixon

Many different drills and training methods go into a well-rounded education in Jiu-Jitsu, and one of the most common and productive methods is the “King of the Mat” drill. At Arashi-Do St. Albert we use the format quite often, sometimes even officially for the chance to win the championship belt for the day and take some pictures with it.

The basic idea is to take an objective that is relevant to what the class has been working on. If the last few lessons have been on bear hug escapes, the objective may be to escape a fully locked in bear hug. If a tournament is coming up, the objective may be escaping mount, getting a particular takedown or something else the class in general has been struggling with. The class is then split up into groups and take turns trying to complete the objective. In the example of the bear hug, one student bear hugs the other and if they manage to hold on for ten seconds they win but if the other escapes, they win. Each time, the winner stays in the middle as acting King, and tries to stay in as long as they can.

This drill works well for a few reasons:

  1. The matches tend to be short, but high intensity. If two students know they’re going to be doing something for a while then they will pace themselves but if they know they have less than a minute to make something happen they’ll really go for it.
  2. There are always going to be differences in ability and size in any given class, but every student has different skills that they’re particularly good at. Since King of the Mat usually sets very tight objectives and those objectives are different each time, all students get their chance to shine when it comes around to their specialty.
  3. The process is self-regulating for all abilities. If there are multiple kings on the mat that are rotating through opponents, the student that is more athletic or more highly skilled will remain in the middle having to fight fresh opponents every minute until they lose, so everyone tends to get the workout that’s right for them by the end of the class.

King of the Mat can be a tough drill both physically and psychologically, but it’s also a lot of fun and is an excellent way to make great improvements on a particular technique in a short period of time. Don’t be afraid to take chances and lose in class, at the end of the day everyone is on the same team, and training partners that push you to be better are one of the greatest gifts you can have on the mats.

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Fight Classics: Marcelo Garcia vs Kron Gracie (ADCC 2009)

In classes at the St. Albert Dojo, Professor Tyson can often be heard speaking about “splitting the focus”. This is a common concept in martial arts, but is especially important in Jiu-Jitsu. In any roll or tournament match, you must consistently try to improve your position, submit or otherwise threaten their opponent from every position. The reason is that if you and your opponent are easily matched and they are trying to pass your guard, they will likely be successful if they can dedicate 100% of their energy and focus to that task. If you threaten with a sweep or submission, they will be forced to split their focus between passing your guard and defending themselves, doing neither to the best of their ability. The idea be applied to any situation, offensive or defensive. At the elite level, this match between Marcelo Garcia and Kron Gracie is perhaps one of the best examples of this concept in action. Even though Marcelo spends the majority of the fight in the bottom position, Kron never gets a chance to fully apply himself to a pass or submission attempt because Marcelo doesn’t give him an inch of breathing room. There is never a time in the course of the 14-minute match where he isn’t working a sweep, takedown, pass or submission. Kron displays excellent base, posture and threatens with attacks of his own, and ultimately the match ends in a spectacular submission. Watch and see for yourself, and see you in class tomorrow!

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Great Day at Spar Wars for ADMA St. Albert!!!

This weekend was Arashi-Do Martial Arts’ in-house tournament ‘Spar Wars’. In-house tournaments are usually humble affairs, but not when your organization spans 17 dojos in 11 cities! There were a ton of kids, all the divisions were packed with talent and very competitive, and while St. Albert is the newest member of the Arashi-Do family we could not be prouder of both our competitor turnout and their efforts. We brought a team of six mini monkeys and three juniors, and took home nine medals including six golds! Honorable mention as well to Pablo, who divides his time between St. Albert and the south location and took home some nice hardware himself. Even the students who didn’t come out with the results they were hoping for demonstrated great technique and fought their hearts out right to the bell. No one stays undefeated in Jiu-Jitsu and at the end of the day it is these qualities that determine long term success, not any one particular medal or tournament. Check out some of the pictures from the tournament here, and look for more to come on the Arashi-Do St. Albert Facebook page. In-house events like these are a great place to gain experience for those looking to compete in major tournaments like Mind Body Soul, and also provide opportunities to connect with our amazing community within the Arashi-Do network. We can’t wait to come back next time with an even bigger team!

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Arashi-Do Behring Symposium Oct 2017

Our school represented well at a whirlwind of a grading this weekend with the head of our organization, 8th degree black belt Mestre Sylvio Behring! It began with the instructor symposium, where Professor Tyson was awarded the first degree on his black belt, which represents four years of dedication and hard work on the mats since he first received his black belt in 2013.

Then came the Juniors grading, where nine of our Junior BJJ students showed their skills for Mestre Behring and earned their Gray/White belts.

Finally, Mike and Stephanie did a fantastic job in the adult grading, earning their first stripes and taking the first big step toward blue belt!

In and amongst the gradings were also several packed seminars in which Mestre Behring’s immense knowledge was on full display for us, as it is every April and October. It truly can’t be overstated how special these events are and we can’t wait for the next one when we’ll be bringing an even bigger group. OSS!

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