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