The Weekly Fix: Taking Risks Improves Your BJJ

Welcome to the Weekly Fix!

The Newsletter from the Bulletproof For BJJ brothers JT & Joey, to give you the insights you need to have a better BJJ life. .

  1. Taking Risks Improves your BJJ: Failure and learning are linked
  2. Have you seen this?!: Podcast 12. Joey's path to Blackbelt
  3. Community Spotlight:Gym owner and martial arts all rounder
  4. Training Top Tip: Joey's fave Shoulder Warm Up

Taking Risks improves your BJJ

Mistakes and failure are key to learning in BJJ. The quicker you fail, the sooner you learn. (Hopefully) Unfortunately in school, at university, in business and throughout our day, to day lives we are taught to fit in, be risk averse and don’t do anything too crazy.

Fear of failure is the single most limiting belief any human can have. Even though getting choked is a very real consequence of making a mistake on the mats. Provided you learn the cause of your mistake you are now that little bit safer.

Not repeating mistakes is one of the single most important things you can do to improve your Jiu-jitsu, this also goes for the rest your life as a whole.

The essential way to improve at BJJ is trial and error, which is at the heart of the scientific method. You have a hypothesis: I am going to do a single leg take down that my coached just taught me.

The test subject – your opponent is also aware of what you are trying to do so the chances of success are not high.

So you run your experiment and take a risk. You get sprawled on and the result of your experiment is that you get your back taken and you get choked.

Not the desired result!

Does this mean you give up on take downs or do you persist? Every time you try something new or unpracticed you take a risk. You most likely will not be successful, you might look foolish and will possibly get embarrassed.

The fear of failure is what stops all of us from improving. I am making the argument to get risky. If you intend to improve then you have to keep trying new techniques over and over until they work.

Practicing a BJJ technique 10-20 times which is the most you will likely get a chance to do in any given BJJ class is not enough. Then trying to incorporate it into live rolling and having it not workout well is not because the technique is crap. It’s because you are crap at it.

The complex nature of jiu-jitsu skills and techniques requires a massive amount of practice just to get the basic coordination of the movement, let alone finesse and master it to make it effective against another human trying to strangle you.

Practice the technique 200, 500 or 1000 times then you will truly understand the nuances of how to make it work for your body. Every failed experiment gives you feed back and you have learn another way it doesn't work. This brings you closer to the truth and ultimately better BJJ.

If you do not take calculated risks for fear of embarrassment, criticism or injury then you will never grow or learn. Once you realise that mistakes and unsuccessful attempts in this crazy experiment called Jiu-jitsu are key to levelling up then you have to take those risks. Regardless of outcome it's part of the process, "No Risk, No Reward"





What year did you start BJJ?
My first experience was about 2008/9ish, I blindly went to a John Will seminar in Canberra, (I had already read one of his books so I was interested to see this martial art) I had no idea what Jiu JItsu was, at all! I walked into a room, wearing a singlet and leggings, full of men dressed in white Gi's looking at me like I was an alien. He is a very good teacher and I really respected how he treated me considering I was the alien, in all the ways. Unfortunately, back then it wasn't super friendly for females, so I didn't go back. I trained maybe once a month in Wollongong with a friend for a while but that fizzled out too. My proper journey started in Brisbane in 2013.
Who or What got you introduced to BJJ?
My goal was to try as many martial arts as I could while I was also training my Kung Fu (Xsing Yi) . A friend, I was doing Kung Fu with, told me about the seminar and suggested I go, so I did. This was also the friend who had put me onto John Will's books.
What was your training/ martial arts experience before you started BJJ?
I started with Kung Fu (Xsing Yi) around 2002, i trained with my teacher for 11 years and I still practice a little every day. In that time I also trained in Kickboxing on and off for about 3.5 years, 3 years of Muay Thai, a tiny bit of Karate, about 6 months of Wushu, about 6 months of Boxing, and since I came to Brisbane also a tiny little bit of Judo and Wrestling.
Have you had any major setbacks or injuries on your BJJ journey?
In the first year of starting my own academy I was suffering and was nearly at a point of wanting to quit BJJ, but that was just because I had the wrong teacher. I've had a myriad of injuries, but I've always managed to work around them, the biggest setback would be running the academy and trying to train full time, this has made my progress much slower. But I love my job and my team and am proud of the standard we have here and wouldn't have it any other way.
How has Bulletproof for BJJ helped you?
It's only been a few weeks, but I can really see how the exercises will help my body become stronger for BJJ, some of my rehab from my current and past injuries (shoulders, knees, lower back) are all part of the program! I like that it just pushes you enough so that you are sore enough that you know your body worked, but not so sore that rolling is a misery. I also like that it starts you at an easy but challenging pace and works you up.