BJJ Tips: Writing a BJJ / Grappling Dear Diary...

I used to love my training journal. It was a helpful component of my training bag. Let me explain.

I said Helpful: I love BJJ grappling and, coming from a managerial background, I thrived on analysing old data and using that knowledge to plan future action plans ...etc. I actually still have my old journals from when I first started BJJ and look in them every now and again. You can't analyse what you haven't captured and that was my way of capturing.

I also said It was: I stopped using the journal as I felt that they served their purpose for me. I no longer go to training to get "better". I go because I love it. Of course, even those who are not chasing improvement can still use the training journal. I have just switched to other mediums like this blog and my Flip Video Camcorder.

For those of you who are curious about the journal but don't know where to start, here is my quick guide:

Technical diary: This is where you make notes on everything you did in the sessions. Techniques, drills, the coach’s small notes, your own small notes, training partners small notes, diagrams, durations…etc. This, in my opinion, is very boring. I don’t like this and I feel it leaves you victim to the unfair and uneven sieve that is your memory. Having said that, many great athletes and coaches are huge advocates of this and, in time, it provides great raw material for that future BJJ book that will catapult you to stardom!

Mental diary: This is where you answer the following 4 questions after every session:

1. What thoughts were running thru my mind today immediately before and immediately after the session? (I’ve got lots to do at work, I don’t want to stay up late tonight, What am I gonna have for dinner?)
2. What Positive Feelings did I experience during the session? (strong, agile, good hip movement, sweet armbar escape)
3. What Negative Feelings did I experience during the session? (muscling out of subs, couldn’t hold down side control, why did I get caught in that armbar?!)
4. What did I do to resolve the Negative Feelings? (talked to my training partner about how to avoid needing to muscle out, spent 4-5 minutes after session with partner working the side control, kept my elbows close to me the rest of the round)

That’s the skeleton. You can of course flesh it out with technical parts or anything else. If you come across something in step 3 that you didn’t do anything about in step 4, make sure you come up with a plan and follow it up in the next session/at home…etc.

This was my favoured format. Not only was it easier to keep up to date, it had a great built-in mechanism where step 4 empowered you to take charge of step 3.

Like I said, I no longer use this tool, but fully appreciate how it can be used, e.g., in the last 2 months or so before a competition.

If you are interested in the mental aspect of sports performance, Kay Porter’s book The Mental Athlete: Inner Training for Peak Performance in All Sports is worth gold and you can get it for under a fiver!

----Did You Like This Article?--- Make sure you add The Part Time Grappler to your Favourites / Bookmarks ---------------------------------


Mike V said...

I like your comment about training to get better vs training because you love it. Dan and Caleb recently had a discussion about that on their podcast.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Hey Mike. Thanks for the kind words. I know what you are referring to and I stand by my opinion.

I love BJJ and if wasn't getting any better, I'd have questioned my coach's methods, but I'd never stop training!

Meerkatsu said...

I'm pretty much with you on the training log thing. I've kept a private class training log for the past 6 years and these days, I resent it more and more - it used to be so detailed and carefully referenced, but these days, it is just quick shorthands, key tips and useful one sentence notes.

It's very time-consuming and, if I'm honest, I have never referred back to it once.

I'll make a special effort for seminars but again, I've never gone over old notes so I wonder why I do it?

I think in the back of my mind, I one day aspire to teach BJJ. I say one day, not soon though. Anyway, such notes might come in handy.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Meerkatsu: Right on the button bro!

The nice thing with the Mental Diary is that it's not really meant for referring BACK to. It's an instant empowerment thing. I really like it and can see myself starting one again next time I hit a plateau.

You simply look at it as you are writing it and think: "Huh! is THAT what I was thinking? Well at least I did/doing/will do something about it!" and you kinda mentally file it under "sorted" and move on with your life.

I remember one example very clearly. A really good wrestler was very difficult to break down inside closed guard. His posture was ok but his back-strength was awesome and He just stayed up. My thoughts were: "I just can't do it. I just can't break him down" and my to-do was "Right! I'll sit up and try to sweep him with a hip-bump" and that opened up a whooole new game for me that I didn't used to even go near, simply because I never wanted/needed to open my closed guard.

But like I said. Writing down the technical content lost it’s charm very quickly. I remember coming home from a Roy Harris seminar and looking at the notes I took and thinking: “Oh My God! I spent all that time scribbling, I didn’t even look enough at what he was showing…AND my notes look rubbish!”

Now I just look and listen :)

Jason said...

I started with a Flip and have moved to using my iPhone. I don't like carrying the Flip with me all the time but I always have my iPhone. I too have given over to more video journaling.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Hi Jason,

The key is in ease of use so I suppose the iPhone will do just fine. I don't know about the mounting possibilities for the iPhone (as I don't have one) but the Flip+monkey grip means you can mount it against practically anything and you don't need anyone to hold on to it.