3 Questions You Should Ask Yourself After Every Training Session

Published on by Erin Herle

The best way to progress while training Jiu-Jitsu is to simply keep tabs on your progress. Without any analysis of where you are in your Jiu-Jitsu journey, you won't have a clue of whether you've gone anywhere. And more importantly, you must have a direction so you can determine when you've made a wrong turn.

A lot of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners find that they lose track of improvements in Jiu-Jitsu due to not playing an active role in their own training. When you attend a class, a private lesson or an open mat you need to analyze how it went. Sometimes Jiu-Jitsu is such an ebb and flow of learning that one can feel unmotivated or even lost. Just remember that you will always have times in your sparring rounds where you're either the one who passes the guard or the one who gets passed. But don't be deterred.

In order to constantly feel and be aware of your improvements, just ask yourself some questions after each training session so you can be sure to work on specific goals for your following time on the mat:

What did I do right?

Let's focus on the positive first. And there are always positives. Try to think of these achievements in terms of both mental and physical. Did you perform a technique in sparring that you learned recently? Did you get to training on time? Did you become more active in finding training partners in between rounds?

Avoid making a positive out of something that you've never had a problem with before. If the flower sweep is your main move that you get all the time, don't include it as a new achievement. Instead, focus on what you already know needs work as noted by either yourself, a training partner or especially your instructor. You can also consider new challenges that are being overcome.

Technically speaking you can list the submissions or dominant positions you earned but don't weigh your sparring analysis too heavily on these things unless they were typically noteworthy. Maybe a certain training partner normally gives you a hard time and you were able to turn the table. Or maybe you completed a sweep you've been working on lately on someone who normally defends well. Try not to make something out of an every day occurrence.

Also, don't limit yourself to just the sparring. Achievements can be found even before you start the rolling.

What do I need to work on?

This can be one of the hardest questions to answer simply because it's easy to be too hard on yourself. Typically this list should pertain to things you've been trying to accomplish. Use this question to become more self-aware and self-reliant. Find the repetitive behaviors yourself and make a conscious effort to whittle away the excuses and get to the problems. If that x-guard sweep didn't work on multiple people, big or small, you know that it's not an adjustment for size of your opponent but rather a very integral component that you're missing. A grip placement, a timing issue or a weight distribution error.

Half of knowing what you need to work on is having an idea of where you're going. If you avoid rolling with certain people because they give you a tough time, think about whether you need an attitude adjustment. If you avoid rolling with certain people who don't roll respectfully with you then that's another type of issue that you cannot necessarily control.

In the future you can use the answers in this list to aim towards putting them onto your list of what you've done right.

How can I improve?

The most important aspect of analyzing your training is finding solutions to the things you want to work on. Sometimes there are obvious answers and for some you may need to ask your instructor, especially if it's related to a specific technique. Take your list of what you need to work on and divide them up by what can be fixed outside of the mat and what needs to be fixed during mat time alone.
If you're looking to improve on your mindset, whether it be staying calm in bad positions or finding different partners to roll with, you can judge your progress by how often these issues arise. Often times just making the conscious decision to change your behavior will work wonders. 

If you're working on specific techniques, keep notes on how often you're getting into these positions and ask yourself why. Figure out if it's independent of the person you're training with (so you can adjust your game for certain people) or if the same situations are happening with multiple people.

It's important to add in the little victories to keep yourself motivated. Make sure you don't make sweeping generalizations for your training or judge your performances by how many times you were submitted or how many guards you passed. Break down your rolls and find the patterns, good or bad and you will be able to keep up the good work or turn your luck around on the mat.

Most of all, be consistent. Keep track of your progress and you'll know exactly where you're going and the next steps for your journey.