Have you ever had those days where you feel like you're not progressing in your training, or worse, feel like you're taking a step back? It might be time to look closely at your habits on and off the mats.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, bad habits can be the kryptonite to your game. They can zap you off your energy, focus, and motivation, leaving you feeling defeated before stepping onto the mats. So, let's talk about the top 11 bad habits in BJJ that will devastate your game.
We'll cover everything from not drilling techniques regularly, going too hard in training, and even showing up to class late (come on now, punctuality is a virtue!). But that's not all; we'll also delve into the importance of hygiene in the gym (yes, please shower and wash your gi, folks!), self-awareness, and the power of a positive mindset.
Don't worry; we won't just leave you hanging. We'll provide you with some advice on how to correct those pesky bad habits and even give you tips on improving your game by drilling with partners of different sizes and levels. So, buckle up, grab your gi, and let's dive in!
Importance of Avoiding Bad Habits In BJJ
Let's be real. We all have them. Whether skipping warm-ups, spazzing out during rolling, or even forgetting to clip our toenails before class (ouch!). But why are bad habits so detrimental to our game? Well, think of it like this: every bad habit is like a crack in your guard, making you more susceptible to attacks and less effective in your techniques.
When you engage in bad habits, you sabotage your progress. It's like trying to build a sandcastle in a hurricane - you might make a little progress, but it won't last. Plus, bad habits can be contagious - they can spread to your training partners and even infect your gym's culture.
So, let's avoid those bad habits like the plague. By doing so, we'll set ourselves up for success on and off the mats. Remember, every little step forward counts, and every bad habit we break down is one more victory in the books. Let's slay those bad habits like a dragon and show our BJJ game who's boss!
Causes of Bad Habits
These are the key ingredients to success in BJJ (and life, for that matter), and bad habits can be a real buzzkill. Let's discuss the big four:
First off, let's talk about energy. Do you know that feeling when you show up to class after a long day of work, like a wrung-out dishcloth? Yeah, bad habits can make that feeling even worse. Skipping warm-ups, neglecting proper nutrition, and not getting enough sleep are all habits that can drain your energy like a thirsty vampire.
Next up, focus. In BJJ, the focus is like a Jedi's lightsaber - you need it to cut through the chaos and succeed in your techniques. Bad habits like not drilling techniques regularly, or getting distracted during class, can weaken your focus like a Stormtrooper's aim.
To maintain focus, practice visualization, and positive self-talk - that'll help you stay on top of your game. The mats are a place for your daily worries to subside and for your focus to be laser-sharp!
Motivation. You know that feeling when you're so pumped to train that you could run through a brick wall? But what happens when your motivation starts to dwindle?
Bad habits are the biggest culprits. Here's why: when you engage in negative self-talk or get too hard on yourself, you can bring down your motivation quicker than a speeding spaceship. So, try to stay positive and don't let bad habits keep you from achieving your goals.
Last, but certainly not least, is ego. We all have egos. It's a normal part of life - heck, it's essential for self-confidence and growth! But when your ego is in overdrive, you can lose sight of what truly matters: improving your BJJ game. Big egos lead to bad habits in BJJ because they can make you too competitive or cause you to focus on the superficial aspects of your game. So, practice humility and stay grounded - your ego (and training partners) will thank you for it.
Discipline: When bad habits take over, the only way to get rid of them is through discipline. That means setting realistic goals and training effectively by drilling regularly and maintaining a focus on improving your technique. It also means setting boundaries for yourself - like no more skipping warm-ups or being late to class!
11 Common Bad Habits To Avoid In BJJ
It's time to get real about bad habits in BJJ. These sneaky little monsters can creep into our training routines and wreak havoc on our progress. Here are some of the most common bad habits to avoid like the plague:
Bad Habit #1 - Poor Conditioning
I get it; running laps and doing burpees isn't exactly everyone's idea of a good time. But avoiding conditioning altogether is like fighting a bear with a feather duster. You could lay down and let it maul you. So, embrace the suck, and get those lungs and muscles in shape!
Whether it's a sport-specific condition like a kettlebell or functional movement like animal flows, find something that works for you and slay it. Chinups and battle ropes are also great for grip strength.
The reason why conditioning is important is that gassing out too early in class can hinder your progress and put you in a vulnerable position. So, make conditioning part of your practice.
Bad Habit #2 - Not Drilling Techniques
It's time to get serious about drilling. The importance of drilling in BJJ can't be overstated - it's essential for improving your game. Drilling techniques regularly help you understand the mechanics of a move, develop muscle memory, and increase efficiency.
Plus, it also gets you accustomed to pressure-testing moves and trying out variations. It might not be as creative or fun as free-flow rolling, but drilling is essential if you want to make progress. So, drill your heart out!
We go into the importance of drilling in more detail here: The Role of Drilling and Repetition in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Bad Habit #3 - Neglecting Your Diet
Diet is often overlooked in BJJ, but it plays a huge role in your performance on the mats. Eating unhealthy food can take a toll on your energy levels and make it harder for you to focus during class. Eating right is like fuelling up your car - if you don't fill the tank, you won't get very far. So, make sure you're getting enough lean protein, fruit & vegetables, and healthy fats in your diet. Consult with a nutritionist if you must and remember that processed food isn't fuel - it's poison.
Bad Habit #4 - Skipping Injury Prevention Exercises
Nobody wants to get injured, and yet neglecting injury prevention exercises is one of the most common bad habits in BJJ. You can't just roll all day and expect to stay safe - you need a warm-up, cool-down routine, and mobility exercises. It's also important to use proper form when executing moves so as not to put unnecessary strain on your joints and muscles.
We go into more detail here: Injury Prevention for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Bad Habit #5 - Becoming Dependent On Predictable Moves
Next up, is avoiding new positions and techniques. Look, it's tempting to stick with what we know and avoid trying new things. But you will only grow as a BJJ practitioner if you step out of your comfort zone. Next time your instructor shows you a new position, don't be scared - get to drilling!
We all have our favorite techniques, but relying on one move alone is like trying to build a house with just a hammer. My friends, it would be best if you had more tools in your toolbox. So, keep expanding your repertoire of techniques and stay versatile. However, that doesn't mean learning too many moves to the point where you are a beginner at all of them. Better to be a master of few than a newbie in a thousand different moves.
“You should not have a favorite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well. You should not copy others, but use weapons which you can handle properly."
- Musashi Miyamoto
Bad Habit #6 - Neglecting Hygiene In BJJ
Hygiene is crucial in BJJ for two reasons: respect and safety. If you show up to class with a stinky, dirty gi, not only are you disrespecting your training partners, but you're also putting them at risk of infection. Here are some tips to keep your hygiene game strong:
- Wash Your Gi: This may seem obvious, but some people try to get away with just using odor-neutralizers. Don't be that person. Wash and dry your gi thoroughly before each class.
- Wash Knee Braces or Joint Supports: If you use any braces or wraps, wash them before each practice.
- Use a Clean Gym Bag: Remember to wash whatever you use to transport your uniform back and forth. Rolling up your gi and tying it with your belt or sleeves can help avoid this issue.
- Remove Jewelry: Jewelry can cause injuries to you and your training partners, so take it off before training.
- Use Footwear when Using the Bathroom: The bathroom floor can be a breeding ground for germs, so always use some footwear when leaving the mat to use the restroom.
- Clip Your Nails: Long nails can cause serious injuries to your training partners, so keep them clipped.
Remember, good hygiene is respectful to your training partners and crucial for your safety. These articles share some helpful ways to keep your gear clean and how to stay hygienic for your BJJ classes:
- Why Hygiene Is Important In BJJ (And Why You're Not Doing Enough)
- How To Wash Your Jiu Jitsu Rash Guards - Make MMA Gear Last Longer
- Proper BJJ Gi Care: How to Keep Your Gear Looking New
- How To Protect Yourself From Ringworm When Practicing BJJ
Bad Habit #7 - Poor Posture
Poor posture is one of the most common bad habits in BJJ. Learning to sit up straight and move your body with intention will benefit you both on and off the mat. It's a core concept of strength training that carries over into Jiu-Jitsu. Here are some simple tips for cultivating better posture:
- Practice Awareness: Start by becoming aware of how you sit and stand. Notice when your posture starts to slouch and adjust yourself accordingly.
- Stretch Tight Areas: Tight areas can pull your body out of alignment, so regular stretching is important for keeping your posture in check. Focus on the chest, hips, and shoulders as these areas tend to be especially tight.
- Engage Your Core: Engaging your core muscles helps keep the body aligned and prevents you from slouching or sinking into certain positions. Learn how to use these muscles while rolling on the mat and in everyday activities.
- Use Props: Props like foam rollers, neck rolls, and lumbar supports can help you maintain good posture while rolling on the mat.
These habits will help you cultivate proper posture in BJJ and beyond. Developing good posture is a long-term process that requires consistent practice. Start by paying attention to your body and making small adjustments along the way.
"Stand up straight with your shoulders back" - Jordan Peterson
Often, your opponent will be trying to break your posture like when you are in their guard. Don't make it easier for them by having bad posture in the first place. This concept can also be used offensively. Having good posture while passing guard or attacking an armlock can make the techniques much more effective. Good posture is a key part of successful Jiu-Jitsu.
Bad Habit #8 - Rolling Too Hard, Too Often
This habit is hard to avoid, especially as an enthusiastic white belt. But rolling too hard and too often can increase the risk of injuries, both minor and major. Too much intensity may also compromise your technique by preventing you from focusing on proper movement and technique.
Remember that not every training partner is looking to become a world champion. Some are just there to have fun and enjoy the experience. Be mindful of your intensity when rolling with different partners and adjust accordingly. Competition classes can be an exception to this rule, but even then having control over your intensity is important.
You don't need to roll hard every session. You should also take regular breaks from training to allow your body to rest and recover. This will help keep you safe and prevent future injuries.
Bad Habit #9 - Being A Sore Loser
Losing is not fun, but it is part of the learning process. It's important to remember that everyone has bad days on the mat and nobody wins all of their matches. It's important to stay humble and be gracious in defeat.
Being a sore loser can damage relationships with your training partners and make the atmosphere in the gym less enjoyable. Take losing as a learning opportunity and use it to identify areas for improvement.
It's also important to be respectful of the training partners that you are rolling with. Don't get too caught up in winning or losing, but instead focus on enjoying the journey of improving your Jiu-Jitsu technique. This will make the experience much more enjoyable for everyone.
Bad Habit #10 - Only Learning Online
Youtube is a treasure trove of BJJ knowledge, but other substitutes exist for actual class time. So, avoid falling into the trap of thinking that you can learn everything you need to know from a screen. Get your butt to class and learn from your instructor and training partners.
Yes, you can learn techniques that work by mimicking online tutorials. But, you won't learn all the intricacies that come with rolling with a live partner and having an instructor provide feedback. Learning in person also provides the opportunity to ask questions, get feedback and make corrections to your technique.
Learning online can be a great supplement to in-person training. Getting realistic resistance from a live partner, however, is invaluable. So don't forget to make the most of your class time by getting to know your training partners and taking advantage of feedback from your instructor.
Bad Habit #11 - Outshining The Master
It's important to treat your instructor with respect and avoid outshining them.
Your instructor is there to teach, not compete. It can be tempting to try and impress during sparring but it's important to remember that you are there for the instruction, not competition. If you find yourself outshining your instructor, reign in your intensity and focus on learning.
Also, be mindful of how you interact with the instructor. Showing too much arrogance or overconfidence is not a good look in any setting and can hurt relationships within the gym. Respect goes both ways so always make sure to give as much respect to your instructors as they do for you.
Self-awareness to prevent bad habits
It's easy to fall into bad habits, whether eating too many donuts or skipping training days. But how can we avoid these bad habits in the first place? The answer is self-awareness. Here are some tips to help prevent bad habits from forming in your BJJ practice:
- Avoid Tempting Situations: If you know that certain situations or people can lead you to bad habits, avoid them. This could mean avoiding the temptation to skip training or not drilling techniques.
- Replace Unhealthy Behaviors: Replace your bad habits with healthier ones. For example, grab a protein shake or healthy snack to refuel instead of grabbing a bag of chips after training.
- Prepare Mentally: Visualize yourself achieving your goals and sticking to good habits. This can help you stay motivated and focused on your BJJ practice.
- Enlist Support: Surround yourself with supportive people who can help keep you accountable and motivated.
- Reward Yourself: Celebrate small steps towards forming good habits. Reward yourself with something you enjoy, like a massage or a new BJJ gear.
Importance of a Positive Mindset In BJJ
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu might be just the ticket if you're looking for a physical and mental challenge. BJJ not only helps you get fit and build muscle, but it also boosts your mood and cognitive function. And who doesn't want that?
One of the key benefits of BJJ is that it challenges your ego and persistence. You'll need to push yourself to learn new techniques, stay focused during tough sparring sessions, and keep returning even when you feel discouraged. But this is what makes BJJ so rewarding. The mental benefits of perseverance, dedication, and resilience will also carry over into other areas of your life.
So, try BJJ to improve your physical health and mental fortitude. Keep an open mind and a positive attitude, and remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. And who knows? Maybe you'll even become a BJJ black belt one day. However, bad habits can become like a solid wall stopping your progress if not properly addressed.
Don't get down on yourself if you've developed some bad habits in your BJJ practice. Instead, use the tips above to recognize and address these bad habits head-on. With awareness and discipline, you'll be able to get back on track and reach your goals in no time. Stay disciplined, stay positive, and train hard! Good luck on your BJJ journey.