Tag Archives: mginaction

Marcelo Garcia on Training for Competition

Marcelo Garcia put up a training discussion video on his site a few months ago, and I just came across it again on YouTube. He highlights the difference between going hard and going REALLY hard to the point where it essentially becomes a conditioning session:

I think that we (me and people I talk to or train with) often confuse the concept of “going 100%”. What does that really mean? You might think it means going as hard as you would in competition. But what does THAT mean? Do you really go all-out in competition, never resting, never pausing? In competition, you want to attack aggressively but you also want to not waste any energy and find safe spots to rest up for another burst of aggression. The ultimate goal in competition is to get a submission and score a bunch of points along the way. No part of that requires you in every case to push the pace to where your heart rate is at a constant 200 bpm.

But in training for competition… it may be beneficial to push the pace beyond what you would do in a tournament, to go to exhaustion in the first 2 minutes, hit the wall, and keep going. The things you’re working on are:

  1. Improve your mental ability to ignore the panic that comes with shortness of breath.
  2. Improve your ability to attack with good technique while exhausted.
  3. Ensure that your basics (e.g. elbow discipline, good base, good posture, grips) don’t break down when you’re exhausted.

110-percentThe intensity Marcelo goes at in the above video I’ve never seen him do in competition. It would be reckless and risky if he did. But in training it would help improve his conditioning. For many of us who don’t do 3-4 separate conditioning sessions a week, we have to incorporate the conditioning as part of the jiu jitsu training.

So, let’s call competition intensity as “going 100%”, and the type of non-stop intensity Marcelo shows as “going 110%”.

So how and when to train 110%…?

I think that depends on your personality, your gym, and your training partners. In the end it’s always up to you. Even if you do a “competition team training” session, there’s no one who will know that you weren’t going 110%. It’s up to you to make yourself hit the cardio “wall” and push beyond it.

Honestly, sometimes all it takes is one roll for me to hit the wall the first time. For example, I often roll with a blue belt, let’s call him Genghis Khan. He is very technical and can be very aggressive, especially when his guard is being passed. He is willing to take himself to his cardio limit and in so doing forces me to do the same.

It takes a lot of mental energy to “go 110%”. No coach can force you to take it to the limit (queue the music). When you come up against that feeling that you have to slow down, that’s when it’s up to you to not slow down. Forget the fact that there is still 40 minutes of training left. Forget the fact that not slowing down means you might get swept, passed, submitted. I try to think of it as a conditioning session and a mental training session, not a jiu jitsu match.

I personally prefer to throw in such training sessions whenever I’m mentally up for it. I find that if I had to stay up real late for work and so didn’t get much sleep that I can’t quite push myself in the right way while still staying positive and focused. If jiu jitsu is your life, then a better idea would be to organize regular 110% training sessions with higher ranks.  But again, no matter how many hard training sessions you organize, it’s always up to you to push yourself to the limit. The only person who’ll know that you coasted is you.

For me, the battle is first and foremost with my own weak-ass mind. Almost like a muscle, it requires training, and grows weaker if neglected.

A Visit to Marcelo Garcia’s Academy in New York City

I was visiting NYC for a day, and decided to stop by Marcelo Garcia’s Academy. A day pass there is $40 and only $20 if you are a member of MGInAction.com.

Overall it was a great experience. I enjoyed the chance to train in a friendly environment with a lot of high level grapplers that I haven’t trained with before. That’s probably a good thing to do for anyone looking to expand their game.

The Butterfly System

When I started jiu jitsu two years ago, I was put on the butterfly guard (and x-guard) path right off the bat. I took a liking to the butterfly guard not because I was good at it, but because I was terrible at it. It seemed that unlike the closed guard and half guard, holding on for dear life is not an option for butterfly, so I knew I would have to learn good technique to prevent my butterfly guard from being passed.

A lot of the fundamentals (as well as the advanced details later) about butterfly and x-guard I took from Marcelo’s instructional dvds and MGInAction (his online video library). Marcelo really believes in that system, and his students do as well. So it was a surreal experience for me, because I got to train with some great technical players that all had amazing butterfly guards and more importantly had good defenses for mine.

The hardest part for me was safely passing the butterfly in no-gi. I had to be very patient and not make any mistakes. Especially the higher ranks were very quick to take advantage of any opening.

Advice for Visitors

I did 4 classes (2 gi and 2 no-gi). I was sore going into it, which was frankly a mistake. There are a lot of good technical players there and in order to really appreciate the experience I think you need to be able to go toe-to-toe with them. That takes a lot of physical and mental energy. It’s almost similar to a tournament. So my recommendation is to get a good night’s sleep and make sure you’re well rested before the visit, especially if you are looking to do multiple classes.

If you live in Philadelphia like I do, take a bus there! BoltBus or MegaBus will take you from 30th St Station in Philly to within a couple of blocks away from Marcelo’s academy. The ride takes exactly two hours, and is comfortable, especially when you’re sleep deprived as I am and spend the whole ride there and back passed out (probably snoring and/or drooling on yourself).

Do laundry in the city! Marcelo’s academy is on 36th and 5th. There’s a cheap coin laundry place on 30th and 5th: L C Laundromat. So even if you want to do multiple classes, you can still bring just one gi and it’ll be nice and clean for both training sessions.

The last piece of advice I have falls into the category of common sense: don’t over eat. Did I follow this advice? No. There was a Subway footlong. There was pizza. There were lots of apples and coffee. It wasn’t too much food, but just enough to make training less fun than it otherwise would have been 😉