For some people they have the perfect situation. They are trained by a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a former Muay Thai competitor, former collegiate wrestler or judo champions are teaching them takedowns and they have the time to train outside of class.
For others that’s not the case they don’t have that situation or they can’t afford to train at a regular academy, but they still love the sport and want to train all the time and improve. Here is a list of things to do to help you improve in grappling and mixed martial arts if you don’t have the ideal training situation. Here are some things that will help you stay focused and improve when you don’t have an instructor or a school to train at.
- Buy books, instructional videos, and check out the internet. Fortunately for us there is an extensive amount of material on the different martial arts of mixed martial arts, so you're not completely left out in the dust.
- Do your best to find someone who is as interested in the sport as much as you are and wants to train just as hard as you. This is obviously really important. I'm sorry to say, but without a training partner your progress is going to be severely lacking.
- Constantly drill the moves you have learned through your resources over and over. This should even be the case with people who train at a good academy
- If you are the best one in the group. Many times put yourself in uncomfortable situations so you can improve on them. If you’re bad at escaping triangles (even though it may not happen a lot). Then let your partner triangle you (with out them knowing)
- Always teach your partners the techniques that work for you best and tell them to look out for them. This is one of the most important tips, because it makes everyone better. Your partner learns how to defend them, and when he does you now have to do something different. This results in everyone's game improving.
- If you are better then your partner. Pick one or two things you are going to go for in sparring and let them know about it. Now it will make it much harder for you because they know what's coming, so you may have to react different.
- Drill, Drill, Drill. I don't mean just the dead pattern drilling. I mean practice the technique with your partner to get familiar with the mechanics then as you go have him/her add some movement so you have to react a little different. Then have them add more movement and resistance. Then when you roll, try to do the technique that you were drilling. To many people think drilling is partnering up with someone and just going through the technique. That is not the case, the best drilling in my opinion is trying it during your sparring/grappling session. That is what builds your timing, experience, and lets you know truly what will work for you. When you do this, try to execute that particular technique during your sparring/grappling sessions for at least 2 weeks, by then you should know if you should add it to your arsenal or not.
- Do conditioning out outside of your training sessions. As they say, “Conditioning is the strongest hold”. I'm not sure who first said this statement, but I agree with it 100%. If you are not conditioned you will never be on top. When you get tired and fatigued, your mind doesn't work as fast and your reaction time is greatly hindered.
- Don't skimp on the sparring. Just like you need to drill a lot, the same goes with sparring. Sparring is where you see what works and what doesn't. It's what tells you what you need work on and what techniques are actually working for you.
- Have a game plan. When you go to train you need to have a game plan. Know what it is each training session you want to work on and work on it. This way you don‘t go in there and sit around thinking hey what should I work on today. If you do have an instructor and he teaches the class you still should have a game plan for your sparring/rolling session. The goal is to always learn and improve.
- Training isn't a competition. Too many people don't know what it means to not want to win during a sparring/grappling session. They are always looking to be the best and get ahead. While it is not a bad thing to want to win. It is bad to always want to win in training. These are the people who don't improve and they have no clue why. There are times during your training week that you should dedicate to competition type sparring/grappling. If you train four days a week, then at least three of those days should be dedicated to 100% learning and the other should be a more intense training session.
- Always go to other places to train, and try to train/spar/grapple with different people. This is especially important for the people who don't have access to an instructor or better training. While you may do well with your training partners, you may not do well with others. It will also keep your mind healthy when you're the one learning new ideas from new people.
- Always keep a positive mindset. Remember you’re on the mat and doing something about it, while someone else is home, sitting on their couch and wishing they were even close to where you are now.
- Don't be afraid to give up positions and go for stuff in training. That is the time you need to mess up. If your afraid of messing up in training and don't take any chances, you are going to slow your improvement down a lot.
- Your imagination is one of the greatest tools you can ever have. If you have an imagination then you always have an option. The reason I say this is because you will always be able to come up with some idea on what to do in any situation. Even if it is a situation you've never experienced before. If you see something hanging out there and you think you can do something with it, then try it. Your not going to get anywhere by just thinking about it. If you think about it, all of the new techniques that have come along and even the development of all martial arts was developed first through someone's imagination. Never be afraid to be creative. When you are imaginative and you can make things happen, that is when your opponent will not know what to do with you.
- Always try to meet new people who are interested in grappling/mma. This way you can build up the amount of training partners you have. Go on internet sites and try to meet people who are in your area who would like to train. Go to schools that are not to far every once in the while and pay their mat fee to train with them for at least the one class.
- Don't get discouraged if you feel like you're in a rut. Even people who train with the best teams in the world go through ruts. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with you not having a formal instructor/coach. That is the time you need your imagination most. Like stated before the imagination is important. It keeps you interested and it is one of the greatest teachers.
If you have the will to learn, nothing can stop you. You will get it done and succeed. Don't give up and make sure you keep training. Many people have started out being self-trained, and training in little clubs and have done well. It is always good to have good instruction, but it is important to always train right when that good instruction is not around at the moment.
“Often times the roughest road may be the best way to get where you want to go” - Anonymous
Thanks for reading!
The Grapplers Guide - Dedicated 100% To The Improvement Of Your Grappling Performance