BJJ Time Management: More on Goal Setting in BJJ / Grappling

Graeme, one of our toughest guard players in the blue belt gang, made a comment yesterday about my aversion to goal setting. His comment was along the lines: if you're under the mount, it is important to set the goal to get out of there. Not his exact words but I believe he felt the goal helped give focus.

Now, while I agree that being under someone's mount is never a great day at the office, I still disagree with Graeme and here is why.

Firstly, you don't need* a plan or goals to tell / remind you that getting out from under the mount is your focus when you get put there. All you need is to BE there, to live and experience the MOMENT. Mount-bottom will tell you that. It sucks!

Secondly, the goal setting process as it widely used both in both sports and business presumes full, or at least sufficient, knowledge of the options at hand and potential outcomes and turns of the situation. You're not supposed to pick a goal out of thin air, but unfortunately that's what you end up doing most if not all the time. I'll build on Graeme’s example. Let's take someone who's only been training a short while and as for mount escapes, he's only familiar with the upa. Now he knows the upa. He really knows the upa. But the problem is, you and I know that the upa isn't perfect. No technique is. Techniques have counters. A very simple but effective counter is shifting your weight to the opposite side and raising your weight about half an inch.
Now the goal-setter will probably set his SMART goal to be: Upa as many times and as hard and technically as possible to get out from under the mount in 10-15 seconds (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-framed). The problem is not whether or not this will work; it is the detrimental effects it may have in either case!

-If it DOES work, it will take too much energy but the player will think he did the right thing!
-If it DOESN’T work, it will take too much energy and the player will get very frustrated and may lose faith in the technique or even think (s)he has been miss-taught.

By living the moment, by just being under the mount and performing the upa and getting countered, the player will sense the change in weight distribution. If they don’t, a good coach will tell them to slow things down and focus on that feeling. Once they get that connection, that feeling, learning the elbow-knee and shrimping escapes, becomes a much easier and more natural progression.

Don't think, feel! It is like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.
- Bruce Lee

*Yes goal setting can work. No disagreement there. It’s just neither healthy nor necessary.

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A.D. McClish said...

Nice blog. :) I'm of the same opinion as you. I think it's difficult to work from a goal/game plan in grappling because so much depends on what happens at each point during the roll. What I've been told is that, instead of trying to make a certain thing happen, go with the momentum of the other person and capitalize off it.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Thanks Allie for the kind words and for reading my jibber jabber. I like what you said but I must say, at the moment, I'm not focusing on capitalising as much as on feeling it. When I try an escape and the player on top shifts their weight, I'm currently focusing on feeling that weight shift and how it affects the relation between the two bodies. If I was to capitalise on it and escape, it'll be great but I think there is more to it. Imagine getting so good at this connection that you feel their weight shift very very early. The muscles tense and relax in patterns and by getting really good at feeling that early, I think the rewards an massive.

Above all, it makes my practice a lot of fun, EVEN when I'm on mount bottom. It's a win-win :)