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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Give us a call at 780-217-0059 or send us an e-mail at for more information on joining our team and see the life-changing benefits of training in jiu-jitsu for yourself!

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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Is getting in great shape, or learning a martial art your resolution this year? Come and check out our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu programs in St. Albert for ages 5 and up! E-mail us at or give us a call at 780-217-0059 for more information.

“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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Give us a call at 780-217-0059 or send us an e-mail at for more information on joining our team and see the life-changing benefits of training in jiu-jitsu for yourself!

St. Albert Location Opening Soon!

We at Arashi-Do Martial Arts are very pleased and excited to announce that the newest Arashi-Do location will be opening soon at 135 44 Reil Drive in St. Albert. An exact date for the grand opening will be announced momentarily but in the meantime we are currently building interest lists for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing and fitness classes for all ages. If you or someone you know may be interested in enrolling themselves or their children, please e-mail Professor Tyson LaRone at or call at 780-217-0059 with your information. We will connect with you to answer any questions you may have about class content, scheduling etc.

Arashi-Do Martial Arts has been providing the gold standard for martial arts instruction in Alberta for nearly thirty years with dojos all over the province. We pride ourselves on going above and beyond to delivery the highest quality instruction as well as a safe and fun atmosphere for everyone. We hope to see you on the mats soon!

Basic Building Blocks of BJJ Class

When you sign up for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you may not know what to expect as far as what classes look like or how techniques are taught. It can depend on the instructor, the group and what’s coming up in terms of tournaments or gradings but these are the basics that make up the average class at most schools:


Technical Practice

This is when the instructor of the class breaks down a technique – the basic movements, things to keep in mind, why the technique works the way it does, and then you’re given an opportunity to try the technique yourself. It’s very important to pay close attention to what the instructor is doing as he or she explains and demonstrates, as you may pick up on some details that they didn’t say out loud. When you and a partner are both trying out the technique for the first time, make sure you aren’t resisting too much and not letting them go through the motion. This is also the best time to ask questions, as it is easier for the instructor to make it around to everyone before hard drilling starts.


Drilling has often been called the lifeblood of BJJ training, where the greatest benefits are reaped. Top level competitors often train 2-3 times a day, and most of that time is spent drilling. Drilling is when you are working on specific techniques or positions over and over against resistance. It’s important because in free rolling, depending on your experience level and the type of game you play you may not end up in certain positions very often. For example, say you don’t get mounted very often in rolling. You may have learned some good mount escapes in technical practice, but if you haven’t practiced them against resistance you won’t be able to rely on them when someone does put you there. Drilling gives you the opportunity to start on the bottom of mount, escape, reset and do it over and over until you have a good feel for the technique, not just the knowledge of what it’s supposed to look like. Drilling is also a great way for beginners to be introduced to the feel of rolling under safe, controlled conditions.


Rolling is the sparring of BJJ. It’s where you and a partner are free to try to beat one another using any legal submissions or positions. While preparing for a tournament, the rolling will be more intense because everyone is trying to sharpen up their best techniques for the competition. Between tournaments, rolling is usually more relaxed and many practitioners will have a few things they’re trying to improve in their rolling. For example, if someone is usually an aggressive top player when they compete, in the off-season they may choose to spend more time on their backs playing guard to develop that part of their game.

Come down to Arashi Do Edmonton and try out one of our great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu programs like Fundamental BJJ, Women’s Only BJJ or Children’s BJJ for ages 4-7 and 8-14.

All those and you get a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL!  

Gi, No-Gi or Both?

Gi, No-Gi or Both?

Tyson LaRone, SAKC, RMT, YSAS, BJJ Black Belt

BJJ is one of the few martial arts where there isn’t a clear answer on what is worn for training in it. Some schools strictly practice only in the gi, some treat it more as wrestling and train only in shorts, t-shirts or compression gear. Some train both and may slide more often toward one side or the other, and it really boils down to the instructor and the focus of the school. If it’s an MMA gym and BJJ is being taught as only a part of the overall program then it’s more likely to be no-gi. If it’s a pure BJJ school with self-defense as part of the curriculum then the gi is more likely to be the norm. I believe that no-gi and gi are both essential as training tools no matter what your focus, and here’s why:


No-gi is great for developing your attacks and control from top positions, especially when both competitors start to get sweaty because there’s no friction to help you keep your grips and your weight on someone. If you don’t set everything up just right, it’s much easier for someone to explode out of something and escape. If someone is strong, fast or flexible it will be more of an advantage in no-gi, and since it’s easier to escape you’re also likely to spend more time scrambling which means you’ll get in great shape! Even if you like to compete in the gi, it’s good to train no-gi because all gis are different and you don’t want to base your whole game around certain grips that may or may not be easy to get depending on the fit and material of the opponent’s gi. This also makes no-gi training great for self-defense since you never know what kind of clothing an attacker might be wearing.




The gi is an excellent tool for developing the fundamentals of BJJ, especially the guard and escapes. The added friction and grips of a gi make physical attributes less effective so you must be technical to escape submissions and top positions. This also means that matches will be more even between people of different genders, weight divisions and athletic abilities. Positions are easier to maintain and the game tends to be slower-paced than no-gi which usually results in a more cerebral match where no-gi can be more instinctual. Having more time to think during a roll means you’ll be more likely be able to look back and pinpoint how and why certain things happened so you can make adjustments. Finally, since all no-gi techniques can be used while wearing a gi (though some not as well) but gi techniques can’t be used in no-gi, the total number of possible techniques and strategies is much larger when using the gi.

In closing, both gi and no-gi have their pros and cons but totally neglecting either one could lead to some pretty big holes in the game. That is why even many of the greatest MMA world champions of all time like Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva trained extensively in the gi even though they would never wear it to compete. You don’t necessarily have to split it 50/50 and every instructor will have their preference but I believe it’s essential to at least mix it up every once in a while to make sure your skills are well balanced.

Fb 30 day trial profileCome down to Arashi Do Edmonton and try out one of our great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu programs like Fundamental BJJ, Women’s Only BJJ or Children’s BJJ for ages 4-7 and 8-14.

All those and you get a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL!  

3 Exercises for Hip Mobility and Health

Training in BJJ week in, week out can take a toll on the body in general, but the hips often get the worst of it since they’re at the center of almost every technique we practice. There’s a good reason for that, but we still need to take extra steps to make sure they stay mobile and healthy:

Keep Rollin’… 

Primarily your hip flexibility is determined by how lose a group of muscles known as the IT Band are. The IT Band is notoriously tight, and that can make your hip movements restricted. After each work out or training session, you can use a foam roller (fairly cheap on sites such as amazon) to stretch out and loosen the IT Band. Simply lie on the foam roller, and move down the roller on the outer side of your leg from knee to hip. You should feel the strain and to begin with the first few rolling sessions will be painful. After time the rolling will get easier, and your hips will begin to loosen and you’ll start to feel and notice the benefits.

Just Keep Swinging

Leg swings are also a great way to promote hip flexibility as well as improving control, accuracy and range of your kicking. The exercise is also just as simple and easy to perform as it sounds. Simply swing your legs. Swing to begin with but as you start to feel comfortable instead of swinging, begin to lift, to gain more control over the movement. Swings can be made both to the front and the side. It’s the movement towards the sides that really makes the difference in your hip flexors, so concentrate on this for optimum results.

The Amazing Spiderman

Lastly we’ve got spider-mans. No not that kind of spider-man. This exercise not only helps mobility in the hips, but also works the abs, so is a welcome addition to the normal strength and conditioning circuit. To do the spider-man, take a press up position. From here move your knee to your elbow, mimicking the movement of spider-man climbing a wall. You should move the knee wide of the elbow to make the most out of this exercise. When you feel more confident, try moving your knee to the opposite elbow to work in a twist to the movement. This will work the inside of the hip muscle group as well as the lower two abs, making it a truly awesome conditioning move. Not only will your hip flexibility be improved, but you’ll have a head start if you’re ever bitten by a radioactive spider.

Conditioning of the hips should be done on a regular basis, if you don’t stretch regularly or get slack on the circuits; you’ll find that the hip seizes up incredibly quickly. Work this exercises twice a week and you’ll find you all round game improves dramatically.

Fb 30 day trial profileCome down to Arashi Do Edmonton and try out one of our great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu programs like Fundamental BJJ, Women’s Only BJJ or Children’s BJJ for ages 4-7 and 8-14.

All those and you get a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL!