Monday, July 26, 2010

A friend of the team!

I wanted to give a quick shout out to a friend of the team, the Jiu-Jitsu nomad, Dev. We have had the fortune of having Dev stop by our facility a couple of times now during his travels and he fit in like he'd been part of the team for years. He maintains an awesome blog at where you can keep track of his training adventures across the globe. Dev is currently traveling across South America and made a stop in Rio De Janeiro Brazil to compete at the Master/Senior World Championships. I'm proud to announce that he took Gold in his division and Bronze in the Absolute division! Checkout the picture below and also checkout Dev's blog for the videos of his matches. Congrats Dev, hope to see you soon!

Coach Foster

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mind games: Increasing your mental potential.

Hello All,

In my last post I talked about how important the mental side of training is. It's often the last variable we look to when planning our training regimen and I would argue it's one of the most important. Below I'm going to discuss some mental tools you can use to help get the most out of your training and competition.

Goal setting

Goals are a great way for you to mentally focus and give your training purpose. It's important to note that your goals should always be realistic and as specific as possible. It is also equally important that you set short and long term goals, with the short term goals leading up to your ultimate long term goal. Even if you don't fully attain your long term goal you are guaranteed to learn a lot and grow along the way.

Lastly, a word of caution when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu related goals. Avoid setting goals that solely focus on attaining a certain rank. Why, you ask? The goal should be to learn and improve yourself, if the rank follows, it's frosting on the cake. If too much of your focus is on rank you will lose sight of what's important (improving yourself) and develop an unhealthy obsession with a colored strip of cotton. I've listed an example of realistic goal setting below:
  • Short term goal: Improve takedowns
  • Short term goal: Improve escapes
  • Short term goal: Improve guard
  • Long term goal: Compete in local tournament
I would suggest that you limit yourself to no more then 3 short term goals leading to your long term goal to avoid confusion and splitting your focus too much. Also remember that these goals should be measured after months of training, not days or weeks. If you try to assess your goals too often you are going to become frustrated and impatient with your progress.

Closing thoughts

In closing, I'd like to share with you something that I read a long time ago that profoundly affected the way I look at competition and the mental game. Here's a quote from Randy "The Natural" Couture" which I've had to paraphrase since I can't find the original "Leading up to a fight, I ask myself, if I lose this fight is it going to be the worst thing that's ever happened in my life?". Randy went on to say that the answer is always no, and that it helps put things into perspective going into a match. In psychology that is referred to as "Giving yourself permission to lose" and it's a tool that is used to help relieve some of the stress and pressure we put on ourselves leading up to "competition".

Remember, there is no substitute for consistency and training often. See you on the mats!

Coach Foster

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Post tournament thoughts.

First off, everyone who stepped out onto the mats yesterday did a great job. Regardless of winning or losing valuable experience was gained, strengths and weaknesses were exposed, and the warrior spirit was strong in the air. There were many notable performances, so many that I'm hesitant to list those that come to mind for worry of forgetting many that were just as impressive. As for medals, the day yesterday is a blur for me (I was there from 9am until just before 8pm coaching) but here are some that I'm able to recall in no particular order:

  • Ethan (Gold) and Trey (Silver) closing out their blue belt division.
  • Nick (Gold) and Josh G. (Silver) closing out their white belt division.
  • Trevin (Silver) purple belt division
  • Muscle Matt (Gold) white belt division.
  • Ethan (Gold) No Gi division.
  • Jacob (Gold) and Jaray (Gold) in their kid's divisions

Every time that I coach or compete in a tournament I'm reminded of how important the mental and physical side of training is for competition. This applies to everyone who competes, not just those from my team. If you sit back and observe the matches you will notice a few common things happen that can severely impact a competitor. I've listed them with descriptions below in order of which I feel are most important from top to bottom (yes the order may shock you):

Lack of mental conditioning

You can be the best competitor in the world but if you are lacking the mental component of your game you are not going to reach 100% of your potential. Mental training is equally important, if not more important then physical training. If you possess all of the technique and conditioning in the world, yet you are unable to push your way through what you consider to be a disadvantageous situation, you are going to have trouble performing the way you would like to. If you feel that you are having trouble in this area I would highly recommend you look into many of the great books that are available to supplement mental training.

Lack of physical conditioning

You can possess the best technique and mental attributes in the world, but if you become fatigued to the point that your body cannot react anymore all of that is going to go out the window. You may be telling your body to move, but if you do not have the physical conditioning to allow your body to move, it's not going to happen. It's important to remember that we must push ourselves physically during every training session as well as supplement the conditioning we receive in class.

Lack of technique

You may possess a great mental and physical game, but when faced with someone equally as conditioned with better technique, your gifts will not be enough to overcome your opponents superior or more refined technique. Technique isn't just the amount of moves you know, it's how you apply them. Someone with solid fundamentals, great conditioning (both mental and physical), and the ability to link everything together will more times then not overcome someone who knows many techniques to a limited extent, and lacks in any of the other aforementioned areas. Remember, consistent training in the fundamentals or "basics" is the key!

In the coming weeks I will be looking into these areas and giving some tips and advice on ways to improve on them. Until then, keep training consistently!

Coach Foster


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Think fast, or don't think at all?

Today during class I gathered all of my competitors together as I always do the week of a tournament and had them work through their game plans with a partner. This is basically a simulated match in which they start standing, just as you would in a tournament. Your partner provides minimal resistance and allows you to walk through what you would do in any given position or situation in a match.

It was shortly after the drill started when the first question arose "Coach, how do I do this move?" to which I replied "If you're having to think about how to do it, it will already be too late in a real match". After my response I could sense a little confusion so I explained that you should only try moves that you know during a tournament, it's not a time to try things that you don't know or haven't had much practice with in training or live rolling. All of this ties into the importance of repetition, whether during drilling of technique, or perfecting a specific technique during live rolling.

Repetition is the only way you will develop your technique to the point that a specific movement can be recalled without thinking. That's why I believe it's especially important for beginners to focus on a specific long term goal. That goal is to know and be able to apply one technique from each situation that may arise in a sparring session or match. The only way that will ever happen is with dedication, repetition, and patience! Beginners, set a goal to not move on to a new technique until the other technique has been perfected. Stick to basics, defense, counters, all of the fundamentals that make Jiu-Jitsu work.

Achieving that level of technical prowess doesn't come easy, in fact, I would go as far as to say that it may take you all the way through your journey from white to brown belt to hone your skills to that point. That's the beauty of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it's (or at least it should be) a never ending pursuit of knowledge while trying to perfect yourself as an individual within the art. Be humble and train consistently, there is no substitute for hard work and dedication my friends!

Coach Foster