Throughout his many years practicing and competing in Jiu-Jitsu, the ten-time world champion Roger Gracie has gathered a vast knowledge of the gentle art and the necessary steps to evolve in the sport. In an interview with our friends at Graciemag.com, Roger has shared seven tips to improve your technique and maximize your effectiveness on the mats. Check it out!
1. Keep calm: ‘Whenever someone gets surprised by my calm demeanor, I like to point out that “losing control is losing the fight”. If a fighter is under attack and decides to struggle without giving it much thought, he will only move in favor of the position adjustment. The good fighter must be patient. If you struggle, you will lose oxygen faster and make rash decisions. Starting to swim without thinking can send a castaway further to the bottom. However, if he is calm, he can surface easily.’
2. Be creative: ‘Be open-minded and let your creativity and adaptability flow. I changed my armbar from the guard when a white belt made an awkward grip on my gi and I felt uncomfortable. I saw that there was a path there and I developed an innovation.’
3. Believe in your ability: ‘Many fighters are already defeated even before the fight starts. It’s a mental matter… I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but you need to tell yourself that you are going to win and that you can accomplish that feat. The fighter needs to be convinced of his ability. The competitive world at the highest level does not tolerate doubts, so trust your potential.’
4. Use your weight: ‘Although it seems obvious, few people do what is necessary: use their weight to crush the opponent. When I’m on top, regardless of which pass I want to use, I’m always using my body and pushing myself on top of the opponent, distributing my weight to never transmit the sensation of lightness to the opponent. There’s nothing complex or special about my passes, other than the fact that I’m constantly calculating and recalculating my position to not make room for the adversary. The logic is as follows: whoever is at the bottom needs room to move and, thus, seek replacement, sweeps, or submissions. If you give space and throw the weight back, the opponent is free to move. Now, if you project your body onto it, the guarding fighter has to absorb your weight, so it won’t move efficiently.’
5. Increase the difficulty of your training: ‘It is necessary to put yourself in really dangerous situations during training. If you train against an ineffective offense, your defense will be ineffective as well. And vice versa.’
6. It’s not about strength: ‘What I often see these days are fighters who invest a lot in muscle strength and through it manage to get rid of some attacks based on explosive force. It turns out that if they get tired they will be forced to tap out. This also creates another problem. When the subject becomes addicted to escaping a position with force and wants to get rid of it in any way, he does not learn to think about the mechanism of movement. The trick is understanding the why of things. Know why the choke is putting pressure or not. This makes it easier to position yourself, look for the opponent’s lever that offers the main support for the attack, and disarm it.’
7. Prioritize Jiu-Jitsu: ‘To be physically prepared to fight Jiu-Jitsu, train Jiu-Jitsu as much as possible. Other activities can help, but they can also get in the way. If you do a lot of weight training, you can get stiff, and Jiu-Jitsu requires mobility and flexibility. You can run all you want, but that won’t be as effective as training several sessions with short breaks between the sparring, to get your body used to the toughness of competition. If you want to have strong grips in the gi, working out is not the main thing. It is better to train and make as much effort as possible so that they are not broken by colleagues during training.’