Diversify Your Training: Becoming The Best You Can

Published on by Dan Dufur

Photo By: John Cooper
The biggest thing holding us back a lot of times, is our self. We become too comfortable. We are content in our growth, skill, and technique. We train with the same partners and fall into a routine. We use the same techniques when rolling, and try the same submissions. While there can be benefits to this type of training, it can also be a hindrance of your evolution. Sure, you can become very good at a handful of techniques, and your partner can elevate your game in some aspects. I feel that if you widen your horizons, you will be able to learn more and become more well-rounded.
I feel like there needs to be a balance in your training. You need to train with people that you are better than, so you can experiment with new aspects of your game. You can practice different subs, sweeps, guards and more, without a high risk of being submitted or in danger. You could do things like rolling with an arm or two tucked in your belt to activate your legs more. Only play from guard or top. On the flipside of things, training with people who are better than you can improve your game immensely. Sure you may be getting submitted and smashed all the time, but trust me, you are getting better. You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. You train with people that are better than you and you will improve by leaps and bounds. A lot of people rise up and play at a higher level because of this. In my own experience I have found that my game is much sharper when faced with a tougher challenge. I try to be smarter, limit my mistakes, and make every movement count.
Photo By: Alberto Marchetti 
Don’t just train with partners that are your own size and rank. Everybody on the mat has something to offer. Train with as many different people as possible. Train with the strongest guy in the gym, use only technique to overcome your challenge. Train with the smallest guy in the room, Work on your movement instead of using weight and strength. Roll with the person with the crazy guard. The person with the best wrestling. The one with the best scrambles. Ask them what you need to improve on. Study their technique. Figure it out. You will become better at defending each and every time.
Train both Gi and No-Gi. They are like twins. Very similar yet completely different. Try to develop a style that is very useful for both like Marcelo Garcia has done.  Or try to develop two completely different styles. Experiment with different grips, guards, and submissions using the Gi. Work on Judo takedowns to try to be strong in all aspects of the Gi game.  In No-Gi, work on your wrestling and movements. Develop good sprawls, shots, positioning, and scrambles. Work on the leg lock game and the clinch. Look to multiple sources for inspiration. Open eyes lead to an open mind. Become one with your surroundings.
Photo By: Mike Calimbas 
Adding different forms of exercise can also improve your body, which in turn can help your growth in bjj. It could be yoga, running, weight lifting or another martial art. Yoga is a good way to increase strength, control, and flexibility without putting too much wear and tear on the body. Running is a good way to better your endurance strengthen your body and your will power. Weight lifting will increase your strength and body performance. Other martial arts are also great for exercise and have many benefits. I have definitely improved aspects of my bjj game through lessons learned in karate. My breath control, awareness, and flexibility have been great gifts that have crossed over into my bjj game.
By doing some or all of these things, I feel your game can reach a new level. Everybody has their own method to their madness. But I do believe that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Sometimes it is better to train harder, while other times it is better to train smarter. Keep diversifying your training and become the best that you can.