One of the absolute BEST articles I’ve ever read, courtesy of Gracie Magazine! For more BJJ news, technique and articles like this please visit www.GracieMag.com and browse their website. You will not be disappointed.
If you know anything about Jiu-Jitsu, you know who Roger Gracie is. The most accomplished competitor of all times, the guy with 10 world titles in the black belt division including three open class gold medals. Roger has never been submitted as a black belt and never once lost in his weight division. He’s the only black belt ever to have submitted all his opponents in a double-gold campaign at the Worlds, in 2009. He’s also the competitor with the best record in a single ADCC event, in 2005, when he won double gold and submitted 7 out of his 8 opponents, including Xande Ribeiro and Ronaldo Jacaré. So, whenever there’s a opportunity to learn from Roger, you should not miss it.
On Wednesday, August 12, he taught a 3-hour seminar at Gracie Barra Fullerton and GRACIEMAG was there to register. We listed seven great teachings Roger passed on to those who attended the seminar, ranging from technique tips to mindset and approach to Jiu-Jitsu.
Here we go.
1. Training Jiu-Jitsu is the only thing that will make you really good at Jiu-Jitsu.
One student asked what Roger does in terms of physical training to get ready for competitions. Roger answered he does some PT to get his body going, but made it clear that this cannot be your main goal. “If you want to be able to withstand the physical demands of Jiu-Jitsu, train Jiu-Jitsu as much as you can. Other things will help, but they can also harm you. If you do too much weigh lifting, you will get stiff and Jiu-Jitsu is all about mobility and flexibility. You can run as much as you can, but this will not be as efficient as training a lot of rounds with little rest to make your body used to what a competition is all about. If you want to have strong grips, make all the efforts not to have your grips broken by the opponent during training.”
2. Convince yourself you are better than your opponents and you’ll be closer to victory.
Another student asked Roger what’s his mindset entering a competition. He said he always talked to himself that he was going to beat all his opponents. “I don’t mean that in a cocky way. You don’t need to say that to anybody, but you need to tell yourself that you are going in to win and that you have the ability to do so.”
3. Train with people better than you so you can get better faster.
Roger was not born the beast he became. He remembered his times as a blue belt to stress the importance of choosing your training partners to evolve faster. “Back in the 90s, I was a shitty blue belt at the Gracie Barra academy in Rio and there was an incredible amount of talent on the mats at that time. Many black belt world champions and I trained with those guys a lot. This provided me with a strong base. That’s the main reason I developed what people call a “simple game” that is very efficient. It’s at the blue belt level that you develop your base in Jiu-Jitsu”
4. Tap a thousands times so you become an ace at defending tough positions.
Also from the times he was a “shitty blue belt”, Roger extracted another valuable lesson when asked how he developed the other side of his Jiu-Jitsu. He is know for having a strong defense game. “Training with people that were better than me, I got caught a lot in dangerous positions. So I started trying different ways of defending and escaping. For example, if the guy was choking me from the back, I turned my head one way and tapped, turned the other way and tapped, but if I turned in a certain way and lowered my chin I was able to resist. That’s how with time I found ways to escape armlocks, get people off my back and so on. I did a lot of trial and error.”
5. Making the opponent uncomfortable is key to control the actions of a match.
Roger was teaching a kimura lock set up that started in side control and at one time he got to a position where he put all his weight on top of the opponent’s arm. That’s when he stopped and told the students. “Notice where I put my arm under his arm. It makes a huge difference where I put my arm. If I put it closer to the elbow, I don’t have as much pressure when I throw my weight on him. On the other hand, if I put my arm closer to his armpit, see how he immediately starts to make noises? Here, he is uncomfortable, so I have better control.”
6. Modern or old school, Jiu-Jitsu’s goal has to always be the submission.
Roger was also asked about some of the new techniques trending today and what he thought about things like the 50/50, berimbolo, etc. He couldn’t be more clear. “I don’t like techniques that make the match get stuck. For me, the goal needs to be the submission, always. I don’t want you to be stuck in my guard and I don’t wan’t to be stuck in your guard. So, I don’t use techniques that make me get stuck on the match.”
7. When on the mount, first make sure you won’t get bumped out. Then attack.
Roger’s nickname in Portuguese is “cobertor”(blanket), because of the way he covers his opponents when he gets to the mount. The students wanted to know what is his secret to have such a strong choke from the mount. He explained. “Once I get to the mount, my first goal is to stay there and then attack. After I get the first hand in the opponent’s collar, that’s when I get the most vulnerable for the bump. So, what I do? I use my other arm to defend the bump and then I use the top of my head. That’s when I put the second hand in. If the opponent is defending well the collar, I go around his head and put only my thumb inside his collar before I go for the choke.”