Theories about how to get good at a grappling sport are as widespread as theories on how to lose weight, how to pick up chicks, and how to win an argument. Probably the only ingredient that’s consistent among winners in competitive fields is that they have a singular focus and obsession with always improving. The specifics can vary drastically.
The Truth is That There is No Truth
Any one individual who has achieved success will usually tell you a specific set of steps to follow so that you too can achieve success. Naturally, they base their theories on what worked for them. Or they will base their theories on some statistical arguments on “what works for most people”. The problem, of course, is that most people never rise above mediocre, so the statistics are less quantitative and more anecdotal We might as well be using astrology to design your training program.
The following are some brief comments on different approaches and theories I’ve encountered. It is my sincere belief that you can use any of them and achieve success. You can pick one and stick with it. You can keep switching. You can spend 2 hours a day or 10 hours a day. There are no “right” answers, and if statistics tells us anything it’s that you will probably fail, eventually giving up and switching to another set of goals. If those goals don’t have to do with family, friends, and/or survival, then you’ll be fine. The only reason I recommend sticking to the same goal is because I believe that it’s ultimately the most rewarding path. It seems that the more time you spend working at something, the more you enjoy every little step of progress.
Theories on How to Get Good at Grappling
- Scientist: Meticulously track how every change in your training regimen affects your development. The goal is to maximize improvement over a fixed (often highly limited) amount of time. This develops a great technician.
- Soldier: Follow the training regimen prescribed by a coach without exception. The goal is to do everything you’re told no matter how difficult. This develops a mind that can’t be broken with a high-pace or any other mental challenges.
- Free spirit: Follow no regimen at all. Simply live on the mat, and enjoy the hell out of every minute. Drill rarely, flow roll all day.
Theories on How to Lose Weight
The example diets below are just the shallow gist of each diet and are not intended to be all-knowing generalizations.
- Stick to Your Kind: Eat only one kind of food, or restrict one kind of food. Examples are no-carb or low-carb diets (e.g. Atkins) or all fruit diets (e.g. fruitarianism, 30 bananas a day).
- Portion Control: Count calories, and don’t eat more than a certain amount (e.g. Weight Watchers).
- Healthy Rules: Basic rules to follow in order to avoid “bad food” and get more “good food”. Usually some kind of story is woven around it to make the rules seem very reasonable. Examples include Paleo diet, low-glycemic diet, raw food diet, volumetrics, etc.
Theories on Strength and Conditioning
The following are various approaches on improving strength and conditioning outside of doing the actual activity you’re training for (e.g. grappling).
- Olympic Lifting and Power Lifting: Go heavy or go home. Focus on big full-body lifts that focus on “slow” strength such as squats, deadlifts, bench, rows, or explosive lifts that focus on power such as snatch, clean and press, jump squats.
- Functional Strength: Put the fun in functional. Use just the weight of your body, and not much more for full-body endurance exercises that challenge your body in a way that’s more naturally applicable to the specific sport. Obviously this includes a wide range of approaches from yoga to Herschel Walker’s 1000 pushups a day to MovNat to kettlebells.
- Interval Training: Do something intense (e.g. sprint) that takes your heart rate to 180+ for X seconds and spend the next Y seconds trying to recover. Repeat until you want to die. A good split for X/Y is 20/10.
- None: Don’t do any strength and conditioning. If you want to be good at a sport, just play that sport, A LOT.
This was a long post, and you probably learned nothing. That’s the point. It takes a long time to learn anything in these endeavors and years down the line you’ll just might figure out that you were doing it all wrong. Good luck!