Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Drilling?

By Joshua Rozenboom

Jiu Jitsu classes, by and large, are all structured in a similar manner. Some time is spent in warm-ups, some spent drilling, some spent learning technique, and some time spent rolling. Your instructor may incorporate any combination of these tools, whether it’s an hour or an hour and a half. No matter how your academy runs classes, you will spend the majority of your mat time practicing movements. So, how do you get the most out of this time?

Take Advantage of Warm-Ups

Warm-ups in Jiu Jitsu are not a typical exercise routine. Rather than stretching or calisthenics, we prefer to use individual movements as warm-up routines. It is fun and definitely adds a good amount of cardio and conditioning to the class, but warm-up drills actually serve a higher purpose. Generally speaking, solo drills are repetition of movements that are critical to Jiu Jitsu. They develop hip movement, balance and range of motion in ways that support the fundamentals of grappling. By focusing on how these movements apply to your Jiu Jitsu game, you can maximize your time spent warming up. “Wax on, wax off.”

Stay Active

When drilling techniques with a partner, pay attention to how your hooks and grips are active. Get a feel for the push/pull elements of a technique, and learn to feel when a hook or grip is controlling your partner. Every part of your body should have a job. If your grips are lazy in spider guard, you will lose the position. If you are not applying pressure with your De La Riva hook and heel grip, you are losing an opportunity to keep your partner off-balance. Think about the placement of your limbs relative to your body and how they are working to benefit your position.

Use Your Weight

Many new students have difficulty using their weight and applying pressure while drilling. Yes, it takes some time to really learn how to effectively distribute your weight. A lot of students simply avoid committing to a position, either because they are embarrassed to be close to a stranger, or they feel guilty about putting pressure on their partner. Don’t be. We signed up for this. You have to learn how to distribute your weight and set your base, and your partner has to learn how to deal with it. Higher belts by now are used to getting smashed, and here’s a tip: they are secretly impressed when someone has good pressure. You don’t have to be a jerk, but you don’t have to apologize for learning good technique.

Use What You’ve Learned

Some people are better at this than others. It seems logical that you would learn a technique and immediately try it while rolling, but it’s not as common as you think. Once people start developing their own toolkit, it gets more difficult to abandon moves that work in favor of moves that are new and still need practice, especially when your training partner is now actively trying to choke you. However, the more you try, the more each technique will sink in. If it ever feels like it takes a five minutes to learn a move and five months to pull it off, try using it as often as you can. If it doesn’t work, analyze why and apply that the next time you are drilling. And don’t be afraid to ask a higher belt to help you out!

What are some other ways you like to maximize your time on the mat?