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Five Mistakes Jiu-Jitsu Students Make

With promotion season here, I felt like this would be a good time to review some common mistakes students make in trying to get better.

Neglecting Fundamentals:

One of the most common mistakes students make is neglecting the fundamentals in favor of flashy techniques. While it's exciting to learn "advanced" moves and submissions, a strong foundation in the basics is essential. Focusing on fundamental positions, escapes, and transitions not only builds a solid base but also sets the stage for advanced techniques. Take the time to master the basics before diving into more complex maneuvers.

I never shun a student from learning the things they think are cool, but I do implore them to understand the mechanics that can make that technique even more effective, and that is often found in the fundamentals of it all.

Overlooking the Importance of Drill Time:

In the fast-paced world of JiuJitsu, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of free rolling and sparring. However, neglecting dedicated drill time can hinder your progress. Repetition is key in mastering techniques, and regular and active drilling/games helps to build muscle memory and deeper understanding.

Allocate specific time in your training sessions for focused drills, whether it's solo or partner drills. This deliberate practice will enhance your skills and make them more accessible during live sparring.

Something that I have done is have specific definition for "winning" when I roll. Sometimes that looks like initiating and passing a specific way or pulling off a specific sweep or submission.

Ignoring Physical Conditioning:

Jiu-Jitsu is a physically demanding sport that requires both strength and endurance. Neglecting physical conditioning is a common mistake that can hinder your performance on the mats. Incorporate strength training, cardiovascular exercises, and flexibility routines into your overall training regimen. We are all at different phasese of our lives, so this wont look the same for everyone. But, doing some level of some of these along with better eating can make a huge difference. A well-conditioned body not only helps prevent injuries but also provides a competitive edge during sparring.

Lack of Mindful Rolling:

Rolling or sparring is a critical aspect of training, but many students make the mistake of approaching it with the wrong mindset. Instead of focusing solely on "winning" or submitting your opponent, prioritize learning and experimentation. Use rolling sessions as opportunities to test and refine specific techniques.

As I stated before, there have been large stretches of time where I've made it a goal to hit such and such technique. What makes it difficult is that, I could have "won" with a different technique and fed my ego. The thing was, that wasn't the goal. I wanted to get better at something specific so I forced myself to go down that path.

Embrace the learning process, and don't be afraid to lose – it's an essential part of growth in BJJ.

Inconsistent Training Schedule:

Consistency is key in any martial art, and Jiu-Jitsu is no exception. Many students make the mistake of training sporadically or inconsistently. Regular, consistent training is essential for skill development, muscle memory, and most importantly timing. Set a realistic training schedule that aligns with your lifestyle and commit to it. Even if it means attending fewer classes per week, consistency over time will yield better results than occasional intense training sessions.

For most of my Jiu-Jitsu career I've averaged 3 maybe 4 times a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but 3 times was a solid amount that allowed me to balance Jiu-Jitsu, my hobbies, and most importantly my home life. Understand that the fewer classes you go to, the more focused each of those classes has to be in order to make progress.


Avoiding these common learning mistakes will contribute to a more fulfilling and effective training experience. By focusing on fundamentals, incorporating drill time, prioritizing physical conditioning, adopting a mindful rolling mindset, and maintaining a consistent training schedule, Jiu-Jitsu students can accelerate their progress on the mats and enjoy the journey of improvement in this intricate martial art.

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