Mindset – technique – weightlifting – and time!

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December 8, 2017

by Prof. Martin Guggi – in cooperation with Prof. Bert Obernosterer and Coach Markus Miedel

I wrote about weight training before! Again, I want to say that I am not against weight training – in the end I am a big fan of it, but this does not mean that I would suggest weight lifting right away to everyone.

No one should feel ashamed because he or she is strong. In any sport, and of course also in BJJ it is only a benefit if your physical condition is well developed! We always tell our students not to roll with muscles and instead focus more on technique. But we all know that a strong student with some technical skills can be a very big challenge!!! BJJ should work also without strength and as we evolve we should start trusting and focusing more and more on technical details than on strength. If your technique works because you are stronger than you did not understand BJJ. In the end techniques should always win and our techniques should work more and more without using muscle and focusing on the right body distribution, the right timing, the right angle, the right speed and so on… but of course this is not always the case. And we have to admit, that muscle power can help our technique a lot – even if it is a shortcut sometimes.

Watching high level BJJler I feel that the smaller ones apply the principles of BJJ better than the bigger ones – because they have too! They cannot take the shortcut using power instead of details – especially when they roll with more heavier and stronger guys often. Some of them get so good that even with a small body and less muscles they are able to submit bigger and stronger opponents. But not everybody is going to become such a technical skilled wizard on the mat and for some of us – even me – the goal to dominate stronger opponents will always be a goal to look up too but perhaps we will never reach this level.

Before we think about weight lifting we should start to improve other aspects before… what we often neglect. 

  1. Training your mind

  2. Training your technique

  3. Training your muscles

The strongest weapon we have is our brain. In the brain we can choose our attitude and our mindset and this two tools are much more important than muscle power. How often did you train and develop your attitude, how often did you think about the right mindset you have when you spar, drill and train. How often did you think about tapping and why you lost – sometimes not because of technical weaknesses but because you trained with the wrong mindset and attitude.

One day I was a conditioning coach for an Austrian ice hockey team. There was a player who was a big fan of weightlifting and looked with 16 years already like a rock. But during the game he was afraid to go against the other players of the other teams. He did not check them and attack with his amazing physic. But his co players who were much smaller and weaker than him did. So his muscle did not help him at all because he did not have the right mindset. And one day he had to stop playing because of this…  But of course the smaller payers used muscle power too… but had to develop more technique and for sure had a better mindset than the big strong guy.


I would say there are two ways to use muscle power:

  1. During a competition use whatever you have! Always if you want to show how good you, if you want to boost your ego (and this is sometimes important too!), you want to prove your level, roll against higher belts and if want to give your best use whatever you have.
  2. During training put your muscle power away and try to focus on technique; always if your main goal is to learn – concentrate on technique. Especially rolling against lower belts, or when you focus on special aspects of your game. And if you want to learn how people move – then the best way is to roll light, feel the movements, try to anticipate the next move and learn how all humans use arms and legs.

The same we are talking about muscle power can be said about flexibility, cardio and explosiveness. These are all great genetic gifts but if you do not bring your technique to a maximum then you invest too much time in the wrong part of the game.

TIME is a big part of when to develop which part of your game!

  1. If you are young – concentrate on details and technique!
  2. If you have a lot of time for training – concentrate on details and technique!
  3. If you are older and spend a lot of time already in drilling and improving your technique then think about weight lifting. Would it be helpful for your body size and anatomy if you spend 2 or 3 times per week lifting? Not for everyone is weigh training that important. I like to train with weights for example not because my main goal is to get stronger but because my long limbs feel much more stable and protected when I add a little bit more time on muscle development.
  4. Do not forget to think about the other aspects which could help your game. How is your flexibility, how is your cardio, how is your explosiveness… and could some extra time in these areas really improve your game… or do you just want to look like a bodybuilder and impress girls? J
  5. We are submission fighters and we fight to submit people. We do not want to hurt them, we do not want to harm their bodies we want to show that our skills are better development than our opponents. Any sport we do next to BJJ could improve our skills as well. Climbing, Gymnastics, Yoga – even Triathlon could somehow improve some skills. But our main focus should always be technical perfection.
  6. Think about this question: “What could help you the most if your opponents get stronger (or more flexible ….) too?” In the end what helps you the most is primary your focus, your attitude, your mindset followed by your techniques. This does not mean that weight training could not boost your game tremendously too. But every person needs an individual training concept for his specific needs and I would never say that what helps me is good for everyone. And it is definitely not the right way to copy someone else without using your own brain to think about yourself first!

If you do have fun training and enjoy being on the mat every day then you have an amazing gift. If you have the right attitude and mindset of training and living your life nothing will stop you. Develop your techniques to a maximum and after this start supporting your body and your techniques with muscle, flexibility or anything else and you are going to have a successful journey in BJJ and in life!!!




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