“Hacking” Jiu-Jitsu: How we do it, and how you can too

Here at BJJ Hacks I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the very best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world. Being exposed to such high level jiu-jitsu and then obsessively watching, rewatching, editing and compiling all the footage has helped my jiu-jitsu immensely.

I went from a mediocre purple belt who never medalled at a competition to a slightly less mediocre brown belt who just won a silver medal in a state tournament in Rio de Janeiro.

It’s not about making cool videos, it’s about better BJJ

This turnaround can be credited to the work that I’ve done for BJJ Hacks these last few years. You see, the idea behind making these videos isn’t just to create a nice looking film with some cool tunes over the top. Anybody can do that.

What I was always interested in doing was identifying the factors that made and continue to make the best grapplers in the world so damn successful.

In any field, be it business, sport or whatever, you don’t just decide “OK this seems like a good plan, so I’m going to do it until I’m number one”.

No, you seek out people who are already successful in your chosen field and you emulate the things they did that helped them get to the top.

• How do they train day-to-day?
• What do they do differently compared to other people?
• And how can we apply similar principles in our own training to emulate even a fraction of their success?

It’s not always about learning a new technique or position. We’re inclined to look for these “magic bullets” in the hope that by doing something completely different we can catch people unaware. This jiu-jitsu arms race doesn’t last long, as people quickly learn counters and you’re right back at square one.

Instead, it’s better to identify the deeper, maybe less apparent lessons that can be applied to anyone at any level, regardless of your experience, style or attitude toward jiu-jitsu.

Here are a few examples of the lessons we’ve learned from people we’ve filmed over the last two and a half years.

Braulio Estima
He became a big fish in a small pond, beating up everyone at his gym and on the local tournament scene. It was only by travelling to the Gracie Barra HQ did he get pushed enough to develop his game, breaking a barrier that had prevented him from becoming a champion past small regional tournaments. Letting go of this ego and entering an environment where he was no longer top dog was the factor that enabled him to raise his game.

Clark Gracie
The Gracie name comes with a lot of responsibility, and a price too. The pressure used to get to Clark, until he was able to focus on the real reason he wanted to compete – not to prove anything to anyone, but simply for his own enjoyment. By truthfully identifying his motivations for competing he was able to relieve himself of the pressure and perform to the best of his abilities.

Caio Terra
When he found himself without a gym or a teacher, he resorted to diligent self-study and purposeful practice. He would use instructionals to research positions and techniques and then
practice, refine and perfect these. By seeking out training with specialists in each position, he was then able to figure out what worked best and apply it in his own game. The result: he’s
considered one of the most technical grapplers in the world.

Helping You Hack Your Own Jiu-Jitsu

We’ve featured a lot of grapplers on BJJ Hacks and if you look through our archives there are many more lessons to be learned.

What we’d like to do is create a resource where people can continue to benefit from the huge amount of knowledge that people have shared with us and include our own analysis of what we’ve learned by being in such close proximity to these amazing martial artists.

The idea is to collect together all of the lessons and add our own informed analysis. We got to see first hand what these guys do, and not everything made it into the videos. As such, we have some interesting stories and observations that can help you develop your own jiu-jitsu, whether you’re a part-time recreational player or even a hardcore competitor. Anyone can learn from these lessons, as you apply the concepts and hacks to your own game – it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

If you would be interested in an eBook that collects together these tips and outlines best practices for better BJJ, please click here to send us a quick email.

If we get enough interest, we’ll put something together that will hopefully contribute to better BJJ for everyone – not just the top level guys.

Article by Hywel Teague.

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