You didn't think Helio rolled competitively every day did you?
When I’m rolling competitively I'm always initiating attacks. Always. It might feel like I'm just laying on you in side mount or just holding your head in my guard but believe me I'm actively working to kill your arms in the former and rocking your balance (kuzushi) in the latter to initiate a flower sweep or a back take. At the very least, I'm working to create a posture deficit to my advantage. This is something I've worked hard to develop over the past few years. To me, this is one of the strongest links between BJJ and MMA*.
But as I said above, this goes both ways. The other person is doing the same thing. They are constantly defending and negating my actions, trying to set up their own. This places the following three sets of demands on you:
Mental: As Saulo says in this clip, the only thing that differentiates us on the mat is the heart, and for this style of BJJ you need a huge heart. It's not easy. You're constantly working. Constantly flowing. Constantly in the moment.
Technical: You need to know your techniques inside and out. If your takedowns are getting stuffed and your passes ending with you getting swept then you will eventually stop doing them or at least hesitate to initiate them. Your momentum will be turned against you and you will start freezing.
Physical: I put this last because even though I acknowledge that BJJ, MMA or any combat sport places physical demands on you (strength, cardio, balance...etc.) these can never overshadow technical knowledge and having a big heart.
Start today. Grab a piece of paper and write down three attacks from each position you know and work out how to link them. The next time you roll competitively**, start from one of those positions and just machine-gun those 3 attacks in succession at your partner and watch your progress rocket***! Speed is not essential. Technical knowledge, heart and flow are.
*Martyn, our coach at the LABS - FIGHTING FIT MANCHESTER, has always kept the MMA mindset with us. He couldn't care less if we ever compete (whether in gi-jiu jitsu, submission wrestling or MMA) or if we are just training for fun or self-defence. To him, you always keep to the positional strategy and hierarchy of BJJ.
**I don’t roll competitively often at all. I do it every week or two just to stay sharp and more nearer *the rare) competitions.
***Roy Harris wrote a classic article on Progress in Jiu Jitsu and the different belts.
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