Drilling is an often forgotten aspect of learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Live rolling is the hook that catches most Jiu-Jitsu practitioners but time spent drilling is where the major improvements are achieved.
Drilling is a fundamental building block to building a solid game. Drilling uses the raw materials of your physical attributes (size, speed, strength) and knowledge (memory, intuition, feel) and refines them into focused, executable, and repeatable techniques.
This refinement leads you to be more proficient and efficient in your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game. The increase in proficiency is generally manifested in a greater knowledge and ability to apply techniques. The classic example is the armbar from guard to triangle combination. Without exception, it takes numerous repetitions in drilling sessions to master this combination. Eventually, the gain in proficiency is marked by your ability to transition from the armbar from guard to the triangle. Future drilling could add the omoplata to the combination as an example.
Efficiency is typically first noticed as an improvement in conditioning. What is happening is that you are getting smoother in your execution of the technique and in turn using less energy. The “smoothness” is typically externalized as in increase in speed. The classic example of this is that you find yourself a bit moving to the next technique faster than your opponent until you eventually catch him.
Drilling is also a great way to break plateaus in your training. If you find yourself always stuck in the same positions, drill you way out of them. Breakdown your positions in search of the details you may be missing.
What to Drill?
Drill you weakness. For most practitioners, this means drilling escapes. Mount, side control, and back escapes are to having a well rounded game. Knowing you can escape a bad position also boosts your confidence to try new techniques without the worry of ended up in a tight spot.
Drill your strength. Focus on your timing and leverage. A suggestion for drilling submissions is to start with the gross motor movement and then refine it. For example, drill the armlock from mount. Focus on getting into the proper position first. Once you can get your body into the proper position, focus on tightening up the movement. Once you can get into the position with the proper tightness, focus on finishing the submission. After you have this mastered the submission, focus on finishing the submission against the basic defenses.
Drill movements. Don’t forget to practice movements like sit outs, bridges, and shrimping. These types of movements are the raw materials for your techniques. The better your raw material, the better your technique will be. Keep in mind, many of these movements can be drilled solo at home.
Make a commitment to get two hours of drilling in per week. The best time to drill is whenever you can. Make it easy on yourself to get started and see the vast improvements in your game.