Art by Marc SchererDaniel Rodriguez is a black belt and BJJ coach under Renato Magno (Street Sports BJJ, Santa Monica, CA) and a Pan American Gold Medalist (brown). He's also a teammate of mine and is our not-so-secret weapon at the academy. He's contributed to DSTRYRsg a number of times and we are excited he's back again to share some knowledge with us.
Whatever you do, do not watch that jiu jitsu DVD that just came on the market. Do not buy that book either. Why? Overloading your brain with information can be hazardous to your jiu jitsu game.
In the current age of the Internet, we're constantly bombarded with information. The year's latest world champion releases a DVD, and your impulse is go out and buy it. I've collected a pretty substantial library of books and DVDs over the years and, before I reference them, there are a few things that I think about which you should too.
- How's your defense? OK, I get it. You saw Cyborg do a crazy tornado sweep to the triangle and you so desperately wanna learn how the hell he did it. This is the wrong way to look at the art. The fact of the matter is this: if you're stuck in side control or mount most of the time, then the tornado is useless to you. What you should be doing is looking at your game first instead of someone else's. What positions are you stuck in 80 to 90% of the time? These are the positions you should be researching. Write them down, ask your instructor, and if he doesn't get around to addressing them, then start researching.
Keep your eyes on the prize and all the fancy moves in the back of your head. Get your defense solid and stay out of danger.
- Solid defense? Check. Now that the defense is locked down. You find yourself in neutral most of the time and you don't know how to pass or sweep. Now's the time to pick a game style. Closed, open, turtle, butterfly, passing, etc. are all types of styles to focus on. Look for a champ who has the same body type as you and start there. If you're 230lbs, then getting under someone to do the x-guard isn't going to be easy.
- Heavyweights: look at Pe de Pano, Xande, Roger.
- Middleweights: look at Marcelo, Jacare, Saulo.
- Lightweights: look at Cobrinha, Robson Moura, the Mendes bros.
- I've mastered a style! Great. Now that you know your body and understand the concepts, move on to something else. Try to mimic someone outside of your body type. Figure out why this style works for them, how it can be used against you, and how to defend against it. This is not permission to learn 20 more styles at the same time. No. You have to break each one down, one by one.
It's impossible to get bored at jiu jitsu. Just as you master one thing, something new will always come up.