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BJJ Goal Setting for 2014 How & Why

Many people feel as if they’re adrift in the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. They work hard, but they don’t seem to get anywhere.

Like Zig Ziggler Said “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!”

( Read this whole post! At the bottom there is a goal work sheet pdf for you to print out. )

A key reason that they feel this way is that they haven’t spent enough time thinking about what they want from BJJ, and haven’t set themselves formal goals. After all, would you set out on a major journey with no real idea of your destination? Probably not!

Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of your future into reality.

The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, ie: winning a local tournament, not getting smashed in side control, making it to class 3 days a week, or my favorite drilling with a partner 2 days a week, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. You’ll also quickly spot the distractions that can, so easily, lead you astray.

Why Set Goals?

Goal setting is used by top-level athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge in BJJ, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your BJJ life.

By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, that, you can measure and take pride in, the achievement of those goals, and you’ll see forward progress in what might previously have seemed the long BJJ grind. You will also raise your self-confidence, as you recognize your own ability and competence in achieving the goals that you’ve set.

Starting to Set BJJ Goals

You set your BJJ goals on a number of levels:

  • First you create your “big picture” of what you want to do with your BJJ life (or over the next 10 years), and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve. ie: get your black belt in 10 years, win Worlds at each belt rank, open your own school
  • Then, you break these down into the smaller targets that you must hit to reach your lifetime goals. ie: get my blue belt by the next belt test, add one day a week for classes and drilling, volunteer my free time at the school to learn the business side
  • Finally, once you have your plan, you start working on it to achieve these goals.

This is why we start the process of goal setting by looking at your lifetime goals. Then, we work down to the things that you need to do in the next five years, then next year, next month, next week, and today, to start moving towards them.

Step 2: Setting Smaller Goals

Once you have set your lifetime goals, set a one to five year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan.

Then create a six-month plan, and a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan.

Then create a daily To-Do List  of things that you should do today to work towards your lifetime  BJJ goals.

At an early stage, your smaller goals might be to read books and gather information on the achievement of your higher level goals. This will help you to improve the quality and realism of your goal setting.

Finally review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life in BJJ.


If you feel that you’re not paying enough attention to certain areas of your life, you may need to use these same goal setting techniques in other parts of your life. Family, money, education, love, anything and everything. 

Staying on Course

Once you’ve decided on your first set of goals, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your To-Do List on a daily basis (if possibly) but no longer then weekly.

Periodically review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience. (A good way of doing this is to schedule regular, repeating reviews using a computer-based diary, or a composition book)


A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we’ve included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:

  • S – Specific (or Significant).
  • M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
  • A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
  • R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
  • T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

For example, instead of having “winning worlds” as a goal, it’s more powerful to say “I want to win blue belt Worlds by June 2015.” Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand! (Setting smaller goals daily, weekly, monthly to attain your larger goals.

Further Goal Setting Tips

The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective, and achievable goals:

  • State each goal as a positive statement – Express your goals positively – “Execute this technique well when in Closed guard ” is a much better goal than “Don’t make this stupid mistake when sweeping someone.”
  • Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you’ll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Set priorities – When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
  • Write goals down – This crystallizes them and gives them more force. You must do this!!!!!!
  • Keep operational goals small – Keep the low-level goals that you’re working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
  • Set performance goals, not outcome goals – You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control! In BJJ, they could include poor judging, injury, the person is better then you or just plain bad luck.If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them. ” I may not have won worlds this year but I played my game well Roger Gracie was better then me, I will beat him next year.” 🙂 Thats the idea at least
  • Set realistic goals – It’s important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (for example, employers, parents, media, or society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions. It’s also possible to set goals that are too difficult because you might not appreciate either the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.

I have made a goal setting work sheet for you to download

Click the link to download your 2014 Best BJJ Drills Goal Sheet

Tell me your Goals for 2014 in the comment section below!

Also please share this blog if you like it!


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“Thanks, But Too Much Information”

OK, I want to learn BJJ.  I made that decision but where do I even begin?

Signing up at an accredited school is the first step.  Accredited is a subjective term here since anyone with a business license to rent property can start up a school.  Do your research through word of mouth and the Internet.  But if you want even more of a supplemental learning or just can’t fit in classes as a regular routine, there are too many other sources to explore.



The world is currently at your fingertips and you can try YouTube.  You can try Googling.  Anyone can upload a YouTube video from your average Joe’s to World Champion black belts.  If you choose to watch free videos, do your research on who is actually a credible source.   If you do get information through a credible source, the moves may look cool, but they could be too advanced for someone who is new.  Even if you’re able to grasp the concepts while your helpful partner plays a dead fish, attempting to try it on a resisting person may create some issues and overall it would be better to learn more realistic moves that you can actually execute.  Bloggers can offer advice and useful tutorials but just like YouTube, it’s free and pretty easy for anyone to get involved.  Like everything else on the Internet, the techniques may be actually legit or not really.


Other Media:

BJJ magazines aren’t fully mainstream at the moment so many people can order them online if unable to find them in a physical store.   Many of these magazines highlight the BJJ celebrities and talk about current events, gear, and culture.  There are articles that do showcase specific techniques and drills with pictures and detailed descriptions.

DVDs usually are not free, unlike YouTube.  Similar to YouTube, anyone can produce one, but because they take more time to produce, generally DVDs are sold by people with relatively higher level experience.

Books. You can buy colored picture books that go through step by step directions by going to a bookstore or purchasing an item online.

You could get with a buddy and practice what you see in the pictures, but this can be difficult if there is no more experienced third person to make sure sure you are actually doing it correctly.  Jiujitsu certainly relies on the small details.  Placing your base as your hand instead of an elbow, at a 30 degree or 90 degree angle, a few inches close to someone’s head or farther way can make a pretty significant difference.


More Classes:

Seminars are often offered by higher level belts who have had some kind of BJJ competition qualification.  Rarely will these events be free unless you have the hook up, but they focus more on a specific technique that the instructor has generally refined.  These are a little different from the normal class because it is more about learning, watching, and drilling rather than hard sparring.

BJJ is huge in Brazil, which is pretty expected since that is where it originated so you could always take a trip down there to fully get engulfed in training and culture straight from the source.  This would be an expensive route but memorable experience.


Tired of reading? If so, it makes perfect sense.  That was a lot of information all at one time, the exact point of this post.  With all that being said, stay tuned for the next articles on pinpointing the right type of supplemental training best for you.

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BJJ Mind Game

Many BJJ athletes worry too much about what others think about them. These athletes have a desire for approval from others, such as teammates, coaches, parents, and friends.

If you (or your students) want or need to please others, you have a need to be admired, accepted, respected, or liked by other athletes, coaches, family or teammates.

I have to admit that some of this is just human nature (I do It too), but when taken to an extreme, it can cause athletes to feel pressure and is a huge distraction.

Do you worry you’ll disappoint your teammates or professor if you loss a match or mess up a technique?

Here’s a classic scenario from one of our readers,  parents:

“If my son makes a simple mistake like making a wrong grip, losing by points from a mental mistake, or giving up when someone starts passing his guard. That’s it, days over, in a funk, and upset. His main concern is disappointing the Professor, teammates, or parents and worried they will think less of him as an athlete (outcast for not winning the match). Why is he so concerned with “not letting down others”?”

This type of thinking not only distracts you from performing in the moment, but it also becomes a source of pressure for many BJJ athletes.

This is called social approval . Athletes who are preoccupied with what others think tend to engage in what I call “mind reading.”

Mind reading is when you make unfounded assumptions about what others might think about your performance, such as:

“Is my Professor disappointed with the errors I made today?”
“Will my parents be happy with my performance today if I lose?”
“If I mess up today, will others be happy with me?”

Social approval comes in many forms. Some athletes want to please or gain respect from others. Some athletes fear disappointing people.

The effect on you is still the same when you perform: pressure, tension, and distraction.

The key is to understand when you begin to read others’ minds:

  • Do you mind read when others are watching you perform?
  • Do you mind read after you make a mistake?
  • Do you mind read when you see expressions of disapproval from others?

The next step is to understand why you are so concerned with what others think about your game:

  • Do you want to avoid embarrassment?
  • Do you want to gain others’ approval?
  • Do you want to impress others with your skills?
  • Do you use sport as a way to gain respect from others?

Once you can uncover when and why you mind read, you can learn to react better in these scenarios.

Here’s a simple mental game tip to help you… (1) Catch yourself the next time you begin to mind read. (2) Tell yourself that’s not important right now. (3) Refocus on the current match. That’s it!

This simple strategy will at least help you be more aware when you worry about what others think.

Best BJJ Drills

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You Need Quality Sleep to do well in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Questions: How important is sleep for you? What do you do to insure adequate rest?

It’s easy to confuse discouragement while training and just being tired. The symptoms are similar. It reminds me again of something my parents used to tell me when I was in college: “You can’t burn the candle at both ends.” Jiu Jitsu is hard mentally and physically so rest can be a game changer.

By that, they meant that you can’t get up early and stay up late. You might be able to get away with it occasionally, but eventually you burn out—just like a candle would eventually do if you could light it at both ends.

Once again, I was reminded that I have to actively manage my energy level. If I don’t take care of myself, I’m not going to be much use to anyone and my Jiu Jitsu will suffer.

Of all the things that affect my energy and productivity, nothing is more important than getting a good night’s sleep. Exercise (BJJ), diet, and mental focus are all important, but they can’t make up for a lack of rest. You need to aim for between 7-9 hrs of sleep per night.

Here’s how I make sure I get a good night’s sleep:

  1. Avoid caffeinated drinks in the evening. Use caffeine as a pre work out boots, but try not to drink it with in 6 hours of going to sleep. You maybe able to fall asleep but you sleep quality will be poor.
  2. Go to bed on time. This is huge. I have to be strict with myself. For me, this means no later than 10:00 p.m., unless it’s a weekend.
  3. Make sure the room is dark. We have blinds on the windows that cut out 95 percent of the outside light. Again its all about sleep and sleep quality.
  4. Keep the temperature cool. In the winter, we keep it at about 68°. In the summer, about 70°. You will sleep more soundly if the room is cool enough to require a blanket.
  5. Listen to relaxing music. This doesn’t work for everyone, but I listen to the same exact music every night. It’s become an audio queue that says to my subconscious mind and body, “It’s time to go to sleep now.”
  6. Run a fan. The “white noise” mutes outside noise and puts me to sleep. When I am on the road, I loop “Ambient White Noise for Sleep,” which you can get from iTunes.

It is surprising how much more productive and how much better my Jiu Jitsu is when I have had a full night’s sleep. Problems that seemed insurmountable at the end of the previous day are manageable with a full charge on my biological battery. Sleep is one of the things we NEED to have every night.  The sleep get MUST be QUALITY SLEEP!

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