One of the best qualities we can develop is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty or misfortune. That quality is known as resilience. Physically we want to be tough and strong and fit so that adversity has as little effect as possible.  Like bugs on a windshield we would prefer to be unphased by the problems life throws our way.  However, we must recognize that life will throw bigger and worse things at us. Part of our constitution is concerned with how much something will set us back.  The other part of our constitution is concerned with how quickly we can rebound.  These two qualities are intertwined.  In CrossFit we think of this as something that goes hand in hand with our Fitness. 

Fitness is defined as your work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Fitness can be considered a state of super wellness. Your fitness creates a hedge against sickness.  If your fitness markers like your mile time, your deadlift, and your max set of pull-ups are near fit values that’s good and it should help drive your health markers like blood pressure, body fat percentage, and resting heart rate toward super normal values as well.

As I write this we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Fit people are not immune from Covid 19. We are hearing about people dying from every demographic. Fitness is not a “get out of jail free” card, but it is the best insurance we have that we can come through this relatively unscathed.

Ideally we would like our body to respond like the virus is a bug on our windshield. However, if it does hit us harder we want our bodies to have the resiliency to fight it and bounce back quickly. When it comes to working on our fitness, it is just like the proverb. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

So start taking care of yourself right now. Eat healthy. Exercise. Sleep. Meditate. Smile. Love.

Consistency And Constancy

It’s Saturday and I, like most everyone, have been avoiding human contact for the last week or so. Some parts of the world have been locked down for weeks already and some are just joining party. But it is clear now that this is the way of things for the foreseeable future.

One thing that is clear is that maintaining both consistency and constancy in these times is paramount to our physical and mental health. Consistency is steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc. My jiujitsu school, Sheridan BJJ, has “be consistent” as one of its core values. If you wish to improve in something, you need to practice consistently. Showing up day after day, rain or shine, is the key to long-term results. So what happens when we cannot train the way we did before or go to the dojo or the gym? How do we be consistent in the face of such adversity? That’s the eternal question.

Life has a way of screwing with us. We plan to go to the gym every day. We plan to go to jiujitsu every day. We plan to eat right. We make plans and then God laughs at us and life throws us a curve ball. In many ways, being forced to take time off is a blessing because now we can finally make time to take care of ourselves and do some of the things we’ve neglected. The cruel twist is that now that we have the time to train and eat right, the gyms are closed. The trick is that even though you cannot necessarily practice jiujitsu or lift the heavy weights are whatever is your normal practice you can still maintain the habit. Or if you have been trying to build the habit, now is the time.

A healthy routine is more important now, than ever. Even though you have nowhere to go, set your alarm every day and wake up and implement your morning routine. Be consistent in your daily practice. You have the ability to do some things that you may have been neglecting. Try to build those habits now while you can. Maybe you need consistency in your nutrition, or your workouts, or your stretching, or your meditation. You know you have been using the excuse, “I wish I could, but I just don’t have the time” too long. Get started. Do a little everyday and get the ball rolling. Momentum will build and you will start to see the fruits of your actions.

The other quality we must embrace is Constancy. Constancy is the quality of being faithful and dependable or enduring and unchanging. While we have the ability to create consistent habits that allow us to grow and ground us. We also must practice constancy and be faithful and dependable for those around us. We are charged now with trying to be our best and most optimistic selves for those that depend on us. We, all of us, need to do what we can to help stop the spread of the virus and to help our families and communities weather the extreme hardship that this pandemic is thrusting upon us. Panic is not justified, nor is indifference. Adherence to our core values and our moral code is what will allow us to get through this without losing our humanity. While we are physically isolated it is easy to become selfish, but that is the most insidious trap. We need to think communally even when alone. We need to fortify ourselves and our families so we can be our best for the greater communities that need us.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Benchmarks For BJJ: Part 1

Nobody bothered to ask me, but if they did ask me, here’s what I would tell them: Get in really good shape if you want to compete. A jiujitsu competition is not just about who has the best jiujitsu skills, it’s about who is willing to work harder to win. The worst way to lose in my opinion is to gas out because you were not in fighting shape. There are lots of ways to train but if I was going to initially assess your readiness, I would look at these four workouts first and see how your performed. These are just three workouts that I have frequently used to train and assess athletes and there are many more that I could choose. Let’s start here. These workouts are relatively low skill and low weight but pack a punch and are useful to gauge how ready you are for the physical and mental challenges of competition. First learn to beat a barbell that isn’t fighting back before going against a live opponent.

When you enter a tournament you know based on your belt level how long your matches will last.  A white belt match is 5 minutes and a black belt match is 10 minutes (different organizations will have different time limits). You will know your weight and your opponents should be within a certain weight range. You probably will not know how many matches you will have until the day of because brackets are often not set until they have all the participants registered and checked in. Ask around and get a sense if you are in a stacked division or a light division. Obviously it is better to be over-prepared for more matches. On average most people have about 4 matches at local tournaments. Be prepared. Also in terms of strength you should be able to back squat and deadlift a barbell that weighs the same or more than you for multiple reps. You should have multiple pull-ups and dips.

“Fight Gone Bad”

In the early days of CrossFit, Coach Glassman created a workout for BJ Penn to prepare him for the UFC.  The workout was called “Fight Gone Bad” and it was as follows: 

3 5-minute rounds of:  (5 rounds if he was preparing for a championship fight).  

  • 1 minute of Wallballs, 20lbs 10ft target
  • 1 minute of Sumo Deadlift High Pulls, 75 lbs
  • 1 minute of Box Jumps, 20”
  • 1 minute of Push Press, 75lbs
  • 1 minute of Rowing for Calories
  • 1 minute rest between rounds.

The score was the total number of reps (and calories on the rower) added  up over all three rounds. What is great about this workout is that by doing the movements correctly you are forced to do a minimum amount of work for each rep and the more reps you get overall indicates your ability put out power for the duration of a fight. 


“The Death Race”

5 rounds for time of: 

  • 15 Calories Bike
  • 10 Burpees

This is a “gas pedal” workout: you step on the gas and go! There is no rest. You have to hit this hard and fast. Getting this workout done in under 7 minutes will require you to go to a dark place. If you want to be physically and mentally prepared for a competition, strive to do this workout as fast as possible.

“StrongFit Conditioning Benchmark”

Originally this workout was written as 8 minutes with a 140lb sandbag. I suggest you set the clock to match your rank level: 5 minutes for white, 6 for blue, etc.  The weight should be 60-70% of your body weight. So a 200lb black belt should be carrying a 120-140lb sandbag for 10 minutes. This is just a simple and painful workout that will test your fortitude.

Pick up the bag and bear hug it or Zercher it and do 5, below-parallel squats, walk 50ft and turn around and do 5 more squats and walk back.  Repeat this as many times as you can during the time. The less you drop the bag the better. The more rounds you do the better. An average of a round per minute is pretty good. You want to exceed that by as much as possible.  Hugging a heavy sandbag is a good facsimile for grappling with another human of similar size.

CrossFit Open Workout 12.1

This is by far the simplest workout you can do to determine your readiness.  The original workout is simple: perform as many burpees as you can in 7 minutes. In its original form the burpees were done to a target six inches above the athlete’s max reach. This dramatically impacts your score. I suggest you modify this to a time that corresponds to your belt level: 5 minutes for white belt, 6 for blue, etc. I also recommend you try it with and without the target. An average of about 12 burpees per minute with a target (and 15 without a target) is excellent. If you can move at that pace it will be hard for someone to out work your during your match. 

There are lots of ways to train and there is no guaranty that being stronger or faster or doing more burpees will get you a medal. But being in good shape gives you confidence it gives you a leg up on your opponent. It’s one less thing you have to worry about when you’re on the mat. Go work fucking harder.

Perfect Is The Enemy Of Good

Everybody on the planet is trying to sell you the best thing.  The optimal thing.  The perfect thing.  The problem with the perfect workout or the perfect diet is that they often require much more time and effort and the likelihood of you failing at a perfect plan is far greater.  If you want to be a championship athlete, you might need to spend 3 or more hours a day in the gym, but right now, you can’t seem to get 3 hours a month of time in the gym.  Similarly someone can write out the perfect diet plan for you, but if you are chasing it down with 3 sodas or 3 beers a day it’s not gonna work.  The allure of the best program makes us want to buy it because it promises the best results.  As consumers we can’t help ourselves.  However, as General Patton observed, “a good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” 
I am selling you a good plan which you can violently execute now as opposed to some perfect plan that you can execute next week.  I’ve read several books on building habits and one thing that they agree on is that you should start with small, easily achievable steps.  Tell yourself you are going to do 1 pushup a day.  It’s so stupidly simple to do that you can’t possibly fail.  Of course, 1 pushup will not get you fitter.  However, the chances are that once you are down on the ground you will bang out a few more is highly likely.  And once you break a sweat you might as well keep going.  But we have all started a plan or new year’s resolutions with lofty goals to do 100 pushups a day and failed after day 3.  The worst case is you do 1 pushup but on the hand, anything extra is something to be celebrated.  10 pushups is 10x your goal of 1 per day, but if your goal was 100 then it would be 10% of your goal.  Set yourself up for big wins instead of big losses.  
Start with the goal of eating 1 piece of fruit or 1 vegetable a day or drinking 1 glass of water.  
To be clear I am not selling you the 1 pushup and 1 glass of water diet and exercise program.  But it’s pretty close.  I’m 49 and I have two kids.  I don’t have a ton of time to workout.  I have some nagging injuries that keep me from doing some things.  I have a lot of excuses and so do you.  But despite that I workout and train and try to get better as I get older, both mentally and physically.  How many times have you said, I don’t have the time? You don’t need the best workout routine or the best trainer in the world or an expensive gym membership.  You need to get off your ass for 5 minutes and start a small habit of exercising during commercials or whenever you go into the kitchen.  Pick something that triggers you to get up and do that 1 pushup or drink that 1 glass of water or whatever it is.  Maybe you tell yourself you can only look at social media while you are stretching so it will force you to stretch a couple of times a day or, if you really hate stretching, it will cure you of your phone addiction.

Super Friends, Part 2: Creating Scenarios

Much of learning jiujitsu is learning how to react in specific scenarios. If he does this, I do this. If he does that, then I do this. After all it is a fighting sport and our actions depend on our opponent’s reactions and vice versa. As a teacher of the gentle art, I have to remember to teach both sides of the coin. I often see my students fail to perform a move successfully due to their training partner not creating the proper scenario. That is a failure on my part to adequately teach each player how to be a super friend. This means I have to teach people that they are BOTH drilling all the time. Often students think that drilling means one person is doing the move and the other person is totally passive and resting. That’s never the case. In jiujitsu both participants are always participating all the time. One must be a superfriend for his or her training partners and actively create the scenario for the moves to work. If you do not take the shot, I cannot adequately learn to sprawl. I do not sprawl, then you cannot learn how to transition to the defense to the sprawl. Everyone must play their part all the time. That is what being a superfriend is about.

The World’s Greatest White Belt

Competition in jiujitsu is fun.  I mean, I don’t care for it particularly. It makes me nervous and anxious and I never perform my best. However, the need to test our skills regularly whether in day to day training or competition is an essential part of the sport.  I encourage people to compete at least to see if they like it and enjoy it.  For some people the thrill of competition is everything.  And finding that as an adult can be a great vehicle to improve their lives.  That being said, I have to put something into perspective. 

The real competitions start at Black Belt.  I’m not trying to be dismissive or condescending.  It is great that there are competitions open to students of all levels.  And the only way to improve at competition is to compete regularly.  I get super excited over my friends and students competing as anybody would. I cheer them on and I coach them and I watch their matches with great enthusiasm.  However, once someone is dominating the field and bringing home gold medals from multiple competitions, it just signals to me that they are ready to be promoted.  That is another good thing about competition.  It can signal when someone is ready to advance.  

I think it is important to remember this if you are competing and losing.  Yes, that gives you stuff to work on.  Learn from your losses! It also means you are where you should be regarding your belt.  And, third, you are probably going against people that are due for a promotion.  This is why I often say rather sarcastically that nobody cares if you are the world’s greatest white belt. In my mind the white belt world champion (I can’t believe that’s even a title) is just a blue belt that hasn’t gotten promoted yet.  And so on as you go up in ranks.   That’s not a bad thing (although I often say it with disgust). It’s just how it is.  

If you want to compete, then you have to be willing slog it out in the same division for a couple of years until you start making progress.  If you’re competing then it pays to be the world’s best white belt.  However that to me just translates to the world’s newest blue belt.  Then the process starts all over again as you move your way through the blue belt division for a few years.  

Enjoy the process.  One day you might be the world’s best white belt and the next day hopefully you’ll be the worst blue belt.  That’s the journey.  

A Better Decision

“At the foundation of all training is the ability to make a better decision. Period.” My friend, Brian Mackenzie said this and it really resonated with me.  Making a better decision is all we have.  It’s all we can do to grow.  Each day we have hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions to make that will direct the course of our lives.  They say, “Hard training. Easy life.” To train hard is a decision in and of itself that will steer your life in a better direction.  Beyond that, how we train and what we do in the gym are decisions that also will have great repercussions.  The devil is in the details.

At its best, training is mental and emotional as well as physical.  If in the midst of hard training, I can maintain my emotional composure as well as my physical composure, I will have trained more than merely the muscles. Imagine an intense workout where I am asked to work hard for a given period of time.  After a few minutes the physical demand will start to show as I fatigue and need to slow down and take breaks.  However, the other struggle is emotional and mental.  I will start having feelings about how much my legs are burning. I will need to self-talk.  That monologue can be positive or negative. Furthermore, my emotional state might start manifesting as poor mechanics.  For example, when people fatigue, they often start looking down and hanging their heads, their expression turns sour, they rest their hands on their hips or thighs, they start sacrificing their form.  These are physical manifestations of emotional and mental fatigue.  Also how an athlete acts in the last seconds of the workout are indicative of how they act near the end of a contest. 

If we believe that “how we do anything is how we do everything,” then we should envision the athlete at the end of the match when they are fatigued and potentially behind on points.  We cannot expect them to rise to the occasion, instead we must understand that they will fall to the level of their training.  We look for the physical cues of their emotional content, the sour face and downcast eyes, the hands on their hips or thighs.  We listen for the self talk.  We see if they push through to the end or if they shut down before the clock winds down.  Those are not the types of athletes or people we want to develop.  We need to take the training room seriously.  We need to ask our athletes to make better choices about who they want to be when everything is stacked against them.  

Coach your athletes to make better choices not just physically but also emotionally.  Have them stop and listen to themselves.  Reframe their self-talk.  Make better decisions about their posture and their demeanor.  Train your athletes to push through to the end and not to give up prematurely.  Mental toughness is a trained skill as is emotional stability as is physical fitness.  Use that precious time in the gym to make better decisions about how you will be outside the gym.  

Unimportant Things

Sometimes the hardest thing is figuring out what is important and what is unimportant.  Once you figure that out, you can spend your time focusing on the important things and ignoring the unimportant things.  Too often we get caught up in shit that doesn’t matter.  The sooner we catch ourselves doing that, the sooner we can stop and get back on track.  Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of HIghly Effective People says, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Chunking And Do-Overs

One of the keys to mastering something is deliberate practice. One of the hallmarks of deliberate practice is instant feedback and error correction.  If I’m coaching you on back squats and I cheer you on for the session and then while you are cooling down and stretching, I mention that you weren’t squatting deep enough and that your weight was too far forward in your toes, that information is of little value to you.  It’s feedback but it is delivered far too late for you to act on it.  You will have to wait until the next session and will likely forget.  Immediate feedback is what I need to give you as a coach. I need to tell you during your set of squats to go deeper and to shift your weight back into your heels. Somewhere during our session you should be making these corrections if you want to eventually improve at the squat.  

If I’m learning a new piece of music, what I do not do is start at the beginning and just try to play the piece of music from start to finish over and over again trying to get it right. Waiting until I get all the way to the end before going back and fixing mistakes is ineffective. I need to break the piece into chunks–I learn a phrase or measure at a time. By chunking it into small pieces, it is manageable and I can repeat each phrase over and over until I get it right before moving on to the next phrase. The time between recognizing errors, also known as feedback, and correcting errors is crucial to efficient, quick progress. 

In jiujitsu, like music, there is instantaneous feedback when you make a mistake.  However, most of us do not practice rapid and immediate error correction.  We make a mistake and suddenly our partner has a good position on us and is on the attack.  We have a constant stream of problems coming at us that we have to solve for better or worse. And by the time we get to the end of a match, we can hardly remember all the mistakes that we made.  If we do roll again, the nature of live training is that we might not ever end up in the same situation again for an extended period of time so there is no guaranty of being able to correct any of the errors from past matches.  

What we should be striving for is more drilling that allows for rapid error correction through chunking.  One way that we do this already is positional drilling.  If you start in the juji-gatami or spider web position, you are effectively chunking your training into one small aspect of the game and you can work on that repeatedly and make corrections each time.  I suspect we could even do better than relying just on positional drilling for our chunking.  We work cooperatively to develop the discipline to train with our partners and agree to have the discipline to stop and redo parts of the roll.  Imagine if you could replay the moment right before you got swept and you could practice the defense.  You want to create a Groundhogs Day situation like the movie where Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again for the whole movie until he finally gets it right.  

You should find a Super Friend and roll with them for a while with an understanding that at some point during the roll you can call a “do-over.”  When that happens you rewind and start over from before the mistake and you try to fix it.  You might go over it for a couple of minutes until you feel you have a handle on it and then you continue rolling live until one of you calls “do-over” again.  Make up the rules you want but come to an agreement with your Super Friend that you will help each other get better and clean up your mistakes. 

Some of you are saying, “I don’t want to have to stop in the middle of every roll.” You do not have to do this every roll. I recommend trying to do this once in a while in order to clean up some of your common errors.   

A League of Super Friends

Combat sports differ from many other sports in that proper training and development is based on working with live, resisting training partners.  Thus it is important to learn how to be a good training partner and how to help teach others to be good training partners.  A great training partner is a Super Friend and your ultimate success and the success of your team is based on creating a league of Super Friends that help and support each other. 

If grappling dummies were the best way to practice and drill, the elite BJJ academies would have 20 or 30 grappling dummies and classes would be taught on dummies and everyone would drill with their own grappling dummy. There is a reason why that doesn’t happen. It’s because BJJ is based on real sparring with a live opponent that is trying to negate what you are doing while simultaneously imposing their own will on you.  Thus an inanimate grappling dummy is limited in what it can offer with respect to real time feedback and live, human partners continue be the best choice for training.   

Have you ever noticed that a lot of higher belts will only want to train with certain people? There could be many reasons for this but I often find that myself and other higher belts have a short list of Super Friends: training partners that know how to drill and roll and can help them improve.  When left to our own devices, we seek out our Super Friends to train with and try to find nice ways to avoid training with partners that do not act like Super Friends.  Our long-term success and enjoyment in the sport of jiujitsu is going to depend heavily on our ability to find people to roll with that will challenge us and help us learn, grow, and improve. The job of the instructor is not only to teach how to perform techniques, but also to teach people how to be good partners and, ultimately, to create a culture of Super Friends. Imagine if we could create a culture where everyone was a good and conscientious Super Friend? Then we could have many more good training partners and create more opportunities to roll with different people.  A league of Super Friends is a team committed to helping each other improve.  

What is the point of drilling and training and sparring?  The goal is always improvement.  Biologically and physiologically we improve via adaptation to stimulus. A stimulus has to be sufficient to drive adaptation; it has to be hard enough to cause organism to begin the adaptation process. When training with a barbell the load is the stimulus.  We adapt in proportion to the load on the bar.  If I never add load to the bar, I will never get stronger.  If I add too much to the bar and cannot lift it, then I will never get stronger.  The way barbell training generally works is that I perform a number of reps and sets at a challenging load.  That’s the stimulus. I go home and recover and adapt–get stronger. The next time I go to the gym, I have to increase the stimulus. I add more weight or do more sets and reps.  I continue in this manner over time and I get stronger.  Our BJJ training should also follow a similar process of gradually increasing the stimulus.  

The problem is that people are not like barbells.  It is natural to throttle up our intensity when our ego is threatened.  It is natural to be too polite and not give enough constructive feedback.  It is easy to forget our job as Super Friend and just do what makes us look good or to just roll without focus on helping myself and others really improve.  The problem that faces most jiujiteiros is that during class, you spend half the class drilling with minimal resistance and the other half of class rolling with maximal resistance.  Essentially you go from no weight on the bar to more weight than you can lift.  Neither of those scenarios is a an appropriate stimulus.  Thus, unfortunately, it takes a lot longer to improve than it should.  

Most seasoned practitioners solve this problem in one way, they seek out partners that are at different levels.  A purple belt might warm up with a white belt and then have progressively more difficult rolls with blue belts of various levels and finish with some rolls with other purple (or higher) belts.  The problem there is that the seasoned purple belt is getting a lot of out of this process but the white and blue belts are not.  This is creates a system that rewards those that stay in the system long enough to rise to a certain level, but slows the process of the white and blue belts that are used as grappling dummies for the higher belts.  What we should strive for is a system where everyone learns and progresses quickly from the white belt level all the way through black belt.  

The answer is learning how to drill progressively.  It is becoming more and more clear to me as an instructor, that I have to take responsibility for creating the culture of Super Friends.  I have to teach people how to drill and be better partners for each other.  It’s not something that comes naturally.  Before I can do that, I need to at least define what the characteristics of a Super Friend are.  

In the dojo, your partner’s job is to provide the stimulus.  If your partner does not provide enough stimulus, you will not improve.  If your partner provides too much stimulus you will not improve.  A true Super Friend provides enough stimulus to challenge you but allows you to succeed.  
The job of the Super Friend:

  1. Provide the appropriate stimulus 
  2. Allow you to be successful
  3. Give important and timely feedback
  4. Keep you safe

The appropriate stimulus is a moving target but let’s look at our barbell analogy again.  If your training session requires squatting 3 sets of 5 reps at 225lbs.  You would need to warm up before putting 225lbs on your back. You do a couple of sets with the empty bar.  Then you would probably do 3 or 4 warm up sets progressively going up in weight from the empty bar.  Your warmup sets might be at 95lbs, 135lbs, and 185lbs before loading up 225 and starting your work sets.

If I was to draw a parallel to drilling in BJJ, let’s take the example of move like the step-around armbar from side control where I underhook the far-side arm and walk around my partner and sit down into juji-gatami on the other side from where I started.  It’s a fairly basic move, but let’s say that’s the move of the day in class.  If I really wanted to train it and improve it to jgj, I would need enough repetitions to get a stimulus and I would also need enough resistance to force me to adapt and get better.  In an ideal world, me and my Super Friend would take turns drilling the move.  Let’s use the same rep scheme as our barbell example.  Maybe my Super Friend and I do two sets of five reps of the walk around armbar with minimal resistance.  We basically just go through the movement without any resistance just to get our bodies familiar with it and to warm up.  Then we perform three more sets of five reps each with increasing resistance.  Now being a Super Friend I gradually increase how hard I resist.  I also take these reps to point out where my partner is maybe missing some details or feels loose or off balance.  This gives each of a chance to make some adjustments while gradually increasing the resistance.  Finally, we might finish with three more sets of five reps but these sets and reps are performed at closer to full speed and resistance, but not so much that my partner can’t be successful.  Think back to the barbell example, if I loaded 315lbs on the barbell instead of 225, I might only get 1 rep or maybe no reps, or get injured.  That’s not a good training session.  When drilling I have to learn how to give enough resistance to make it hard for my partner but not impossible.  I have to learn to fight hard, but not too hard.  To move faster, but not too fast. 

The terrible partner archetype.  There are a couple of classic examples of terrible training partners.  Do your best to not fall into either of these categories and then see if you can gradually become a Super Friend. The Ragdoll.  This is the partner that just lays there limp and doesn’t resist at all and doesn’t even try to hold their body in position.  These partners are extremely frustrating because they offer no resistance and you cannot even perform the most basic move on them. 

The Ragdoll is most often seen in very young kids and young women as they may have no prior experience wrestling with people and, thus, have no idea how to behave or hold themselves in positions. It is more frustrating when adult males can’t seem to sit up straight in your guard, regardless, the Ragdoll results from an extreme lack of physical confidence, strength, and experience.  Thus very rudimentary prerequisite strength and confidence must be build so that they can just hold themselves in basic positions.  No amount of yelling is going to get people there.  Extreme patience is required to develop that strength, confidence, and experience and get these Ragdolls to be effective training partners. These people will often undergo extreme changes off the mat as they acquire physical strength and capacity that they have never known before.   

The Immovable Object.  The Yang to the Ragdoll’s Yin is the Immovable Object.  This is the guy that no matter what you tell him, will not let you drill on him.  Every thing you try is countered with brute force.  This person has no concept of how drilling is supposed to work.  They come in and are all ego and refuse to let anything happen to them.  The immovable object must be educated on the job of a training partner and you must explain to them that in order to fully learn the techniques they need to experience them from both sides.  Some of these Immovable Objects respond well to a good ass-kicking, especially by someone smaller and weaker than them.  It quickly opens their eyes to the effectiveness of jiujitsu.  However, often that usually just drives them and their big egos out the door.  Creating a team culture where people understand that although this is an individual sport, we train as a team and we need the team in order to be our best.  Once they realize where they fit into the team, they can start to let go of the ego and start being an asset to the team.  

Actions are better than words.  Most people in BJJ understand the team dynamic and understand the need for Super Friends.  What they do not understand is the most effective way to be a Super Friend is through your actions not through your words.  Here’s the classic example, a lot of guys in BJJ will gladly show you a move, or show you a defense to a move, or stop and tell you what you’re doing wrong after you roll.  That is almost always done with the best of intentions.  It’s a sign of gratitude and friendship when, after we roll, I leave you with some good tips on how to train better next time.  If we took that same intention and applied it to our drilling and rolling and being a Super Friend we could make even faster progress as a team.  The best Super Friends are the ones that meet you where you are and push you just past your comfort zone.  

How to be a Super Friend:

  • Be conscious and aware when you are applying the moves and, especially, when they are being applied to you.  Pay attention to the details. 
  • Work cooperatively to learn how to do the moves correctly.  Try to figure out where you are struggling and ask questions. If you feel where your partner is struggling help them.  
  • Meet your partner where they are.  If they are new, do not resist too much.  Let them learn.  If they make a mistake, point it out and let them repeat the move until they stop making the mistake.  
  • Try not to spaz out.  Be mindful of what you are doing and what your goal is when rolling.  Do not try to kill your partner.  Try to implement moves that you know without trying to muscle everything. 
  • Perform the correct reactions.  For example, post when your partner tries to sweep you or react by lifting your head after they try to snap your head down.  
  • Coach your partner as you are performing the drill and let her know what she is doing right and wrong. When they are making mistakes help them fix it. Slow down and do more reps. When they seem to have it, that’s when you gradually increase your resistance.   
  • Learn to modulate resistance and speed gradually.  Most people only have two gears: no resistance and all the resistance.  Super Friends play at different speeds to meet their partner’s needs.  It’s so hard to go from easy drilling to full-out rolling. Learn to roll at a moderate intensity to allow both of you to improve.
  • Learn how to stop in the middle of a roll and rewind and do it over. Super Friends will tap you and then show you the mistake you made and rewind the roll back to before the tap and let you practice the escape.  That way common mistakes do not become permanent habits.  

Start to view training as a cooperative process, as a learning process more than just a competition.  One of the keys to effective training and improving lies in finding the appropriate stimulus. Find ways to improve those around you and they will improve you as well.  Create a league of Super Friends to train with and become the best you can be.