Why You Should Focus on One Thing at a Time

By Alec Baulding

There is so much to work on in Jiu Jitsu. You could dedicate years of your training simply on passing or developing your guard game, and still never be satisfied. Most students approach Jiu Jitsu with multiple streams of focus. They will work on 8 separate and completely unconnected techniques and wonder why they do not progress. If one day you decide to work on your half guard sweeps and then the next day you start learning how to do a toe hold, you are not very focused.

Jiu Jitsu is such a broad and complex art form that you have to break it down into many smaller, more easily understandable steps. Of course, you will want to have a broad understanding of the art and be well rounded in all the major areas. But there is no need to rush to do this. As a white belt, just focus on getting down the basics. Learn how to move properly and how to follow the basic strategy of your academy or develop one yourself. For example, learn a few attacks and sweeps from the closed guard and then keep working them until they become ingrained into your muscle memory.

Once you have done that, now focus on combining all the techniques together. And then as you move up the ranks you can add more study in other areas. Pick a guard game, it could be a spider guard or whatever you want to work on and delve deep into learning all of the ins and outs of the position. Then spar with that guard until you feel like you have a decent understanding of the position. This process could last anywhere from 2 weeks up to a couple of months or even years.

What’s important is your understanding of the technique and if you can apply that technique on a resisting opponent and not so much the number of moves you know. This can only happen when you practice a move a lot. As Bruce Lee once said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” The same thing goes for your Jiu Jitsu.

You will only specialize in a few techniques throughout your training. Even if you are well rounded, there is just no way to be good at everything and that’s okay. It’s okay to not be great at everything. In fact, all the best grapplers in the world have their dominate positions. Marcelo Garcia and the x-guard, Rafa Mendes and the berimbolo and Roger Gracie’s closed guard. It’s through specializing and getting really good at a few techniques that you will level up.

A lot of times you won’t know exactly what to focus on, especially as a higher belt, but that’s okay. A great starting point is to figure out what you are already naturally talented at. Maybe after every roll you hit a certain sweep that you never trained but it just seems to work. Or you are really great at recomposing your guard.  Find your strengths and make them even better. The good news is that everyone has some area of Jiu Jitsu they are great at. So now the work will be to tame that ability so that you can use it at will.