The Role of Drilling and Repetition in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that has gained popularity around the world for its practicality, effectiveness, and strategic gameplay. It is a ground-based combat sport that focuses on grappling and submission techniques, where practitioners use leverage, technique, and timing to overcome their opponents, regardless of their size or strength.

    One of the key aspects of BJJ training is drilling and repetition.

    1. Repetition involves repeating a technique or a series of techniques over and over again until it becomes second nature. This type of training helps develop muscle memory and improves technique execution, which is essential for success in BJJ.

    2. Drilling, on the other hand, involves performing the same techniques or combinations repeatedly in different scenarios, which helps build situational awareness, reflexes, and strategic thinking.

    BJJ Practitioners practicing in fantasy art by the beach in detailed artwork

    Introduction To These Two Training Methods

    In BJJ, drilling and repetition are used to develop a solid foundation of technique, which allows practitioners to execute moves effortlessly and efficiently. It is through this repetitive process that muscle memory is developed, allowing practitioners to react quickly and effectively in any given situation.

    However, it is important to note that drilling and repetition alone cannot guarantee success in BJJ, as other factors play a role:

    • Physical conditioning
    • Mental toughness
    • Strategic thinking

    In this article, we will explore the role of drilling and repetition in BJJ training, discussing its benefits, limitations, and best practices to help you improve your skills and become a better BJJ practitioner.

    The Importance of Drilling In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    Drilling is a fundamental aspect of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) training that helps practitioners improve their techniques and execution.

    By repeating a technique or a sequence of techniques over and over again, muscle memory is developed, allowing the moves to become more fluid and automatic. This means that when executing a technique during a live roll, practitioners can focus on the strategic aspects of the fight, rather than the mechanics of the move itself.

    BJJ Practitioners as a cyborg robot in fantasy art

    Drilling is especially beneficial for developing the muscle groups used in BJJ, particularly those in the hips. The hip movement is crucial in BJJ, as it allows practitioners to generate power and execute techniques such as sweeps and submissions. However, many BJJ students struggle to learn how to move their hips correctly, making drilling an essential tool for improvement.

    For example, drilling the hip bump sweep involves repeatedly practicing the movement of the hips to generate the necessary force to sweep the opponent. By performing this drill consistently, the practitioner develops the capabilities required to perform the sweep with efficiency and accuracy during a live roll.

    Different types of drills in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    For any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), there's a common saying that goes, "Drillers make killers". This basically means the more you drill, the more proficient you will become at executing techniques. There are different types of drills that practitioners can perform to improve their skills, with each drill targeting a specific aspect of the game. Here are some examples of common drills in BJJ:

    • Movement drills - These drills focus on improving the movement and mobility of the practitioner. Examples include leg circles, hip ups, and reverse shrimps. These drills help develop the muscle groups used in BJJ, particularly those in the hips, and improve overall mobility and coordination. Typically, these movements are performed solo, which is excellent if you don't have a training partner but they can also be practiced with others for resistance.

    • Submission drills - These drills focus on developing the muscle memory required to perform submissions with efficiency and accuracy. Examples include hip-up triangles and arm triangles for the core. By performing these drills repeatedly, the practitioner can execute the submission effortlessly during a live roll.

    • Retention drills - The guard is a key element of BJJ. By learning how to defend against someone else's passes, you can set up sweeps or submissions. They will help you stay in control of the game. Examples include retention using underhooks and stack pass retention. These drills help the practitioner develop the necessary reflexes and awareness to defend against common passing techniques.


    There are various types of drills in BJJ that practitioners can perform to improve their skills and technique. By incorporating these drills into their training regimen, practitioners can develop muscle memory, improve mobility, and enhance their overall performance on the mats.

    The Benefits of Repetitive Training In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    Repetitive training is a crucial component of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) that offers a range of benefits for practitioners. By repeating the same movements and techniques over and over again, muscle memory is developed, allowing the practitioner to execute the moves with greater efficiency and accuracy. Here are some of the key benefits of repetitive training in BJJ:

    Muscle Memory

    Repetition creates muscle memory, which means that the body automatically remembers how to perform a technique without conscious thought. This is particularly useful in the fast-paced and dynamic environment of BJJ, where the practitioner must react quickly and decisively.


    Drilling and repetitive training require discipline and focus. Practitioners must use their mental skills and concentration to perform the movements correctly, which helps to develop self-discipline and mental strength.

    BJJ Practitioner Meditating


    The more a practitioner practices a technique, the more confident they become in their ability to execute it. This confidence translates to greater success during live rolls and competitions.

    Strengthens Weaknesses

    Repetitive training allows practitioners to identify and strengthen their weaknesses. By drilling specific techniques repeatedly, the practitioner can identify areas that need improvement and work to strengthen those areas.

    Submission Shark Athlete Being Strong

    For example: By drilling the triangle choke repeatedly, a practitioner may identify that their foot placement is incorrect, leading to a failed submission attempt. By focusing on correcting this aspect of the technique and drilling it repeatedly, the practitioner can increase their success rate with the triangle choke.

    The Role of Muscle Memory In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    Muscle memory is a critical component of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) that allows practitioners to execute techniques efficiently and accurately. Through repetitive training and drilling, the body learns to perform movements automatically without conscious thought. This creates a "feel" for the technique, allowing the practitioner to execute it with greater speed and precision.

    BJJ black belt Muscle Memory

    For example: When learning a technique like the armbar, a practitioner may start by drilling the individual components of the move, such as securing the grip and transitioning to the correct position. With continued repetition and practice, these movements become ingrained in the practitioner's muscle memory, allowing them to execute the armbar with fluidity and precision during live rolls.

    By developing muscle memory through repetitive training, practitioners can also react quickly and decisively to their opponent's movements during a roll. This allows them to transition smoothly from one technique to another, giving them a distinct advantage over opponents who have not developed this level of coherence.

    The role of muscle memory in BJJ cannot be overstated. This is a crucial aspect of BJJ that sets it apart from other martial arts and makes it such an exciting and dynamic sport to practice.

    The Relationship Between Drilling and Technique Development In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), drilling is a fundamental aspect of technique development. By repeatedly practicing specific techniques, practitioners can build competence and improve their overall performance in live sparring sessions. This is because the more familiar a practitioner becomes with a technique, the more quickly and efficiently they can execute it during a roll.

    Submission Shark BJJ Gear


    Example: A practitioner who consistently drills the hip escape technique will be able to perform it more smoothly and effectively during a roll. With each repetition, the practitioner's muscle memory for that movement grows stronger, making it easier for them to execute the technique on autopilot when the situation arises.

    Moreover, drilling helps practitioners to identify and correct technical errors, allowing them to refine and improve their techniques over time. Consistent drilling also helps to reinforce good habits and prevent bad ones from forming, ensuring that practitioners develop proper techniques from the outset.

    How to Learn BJJ Faster (The Ultimate Guide)

    Drilling plays a crucial role in technique development in BJJ, and consistent repetition is key to achieving mastery of the sport. By committing to regular drilling sessions, practitioners can build muscle memory, improve their technique, and progress more quickly in their BJJ journey. If you searching for more ways to learn faster, check out this article: How to Learn BJJ Faster (The Ultimate Guide)

    Knowing how to sequence separate techniques into a broader coherent movement can teach practitioners when and how to transition from one technique to another. This understanding can prove vital in a live roll, where practitioners must move swiftly and decisively to maintain the upper hand.

    How to structure a drilling session in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    Structuring a drilling session in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) requires careful planning and consideration to ensure that the session is effective in building technique and muscle memory. Here are some key steps to follow when structuring a drilling session:

    Set clear goals: Before beginning the session, identify specific techniques or movements you want to focus on. This will help you to stay focused and ensure that the session is productive.

    Warm-up: Begin the session with a warm-up that targets the muscle groups you will be using during the drills. This could include exercises like sprawls, shrimps (hip escapes), and dynamic stretching.

    Start with simple drills: Begin with simple drills that focus on individual components of a technique. For example, if drilling the armbar, start by practicing the grip and positioning before moving on to the full technique.

    Increase complexity: As you become more comfortable with the individual components, gradually increase the complexity of the drills by adding more movements and transitions.

    Practice variations: To develop a deeper understanding of the technique, practice variations of the same movement. This will help you to identify the nuances of the technique and make adjustments based on your opponent's movements.

    Repetition: Finally, repeat the drills multiple times to build muscle memory and reinforce good habits.

    The Impact of Drilling On Competition Performance In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    Drilling is a crucial part of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training and has a significant impact on competition performance. When you drill techniques repeatedly, it becomes ingrained in your instincts, allowing you to execute them quickly and efficiently during a match. This enables you to move involuntarily and without conscious thought, which is crucial in high-pressure competition situations.

    BJJ Competition Success!

    In competition, being able to execute techniques quickly and without hesitation can give you a significant advantage over your opponent. By drilling techniques regularly, you can develop the muscle memory required to perform them instinctively, giving you a valuable edge in matches.

    Example: If you are competing in a tournament and have drilled a specific technique numerous times, you will be more confident and comfortable executing it under pressure. This can give you a psychological advantage over your opponent and increase your chances of success.

    How To Maintain Motivation During Repetitive Training In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    Maintaining motivation during repetitive training can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can use to stay focused and inspired.

    • Firstly, it's essential to remember why you started practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the first place and what your goals are. Whether your goal is to improve your physical fitness, compete in tournaments, or learn self-defense, focusing on the bigger picture can help you stay motivated during repetitive training sessions.
    • Another way to stay motivated is to set short-term goals that align with your long-term objectives. For instance, if your goal is to compete in a tournament in six months, you can set short-term goals like drilling specific techniques or increasing your training intensity to help you prepare for the competition.

    Having fun while training BJJ

    • It's also essential to find enjoyment in the process of training. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a dynamic and exciting martial art, and even repetitive training sessions can be enjoyable if you approach them with a positive attitude. You can challenge yourself to perform techniques more efficiently or train with different partners to keep things interesting.
    • Lastly, accountability can help keep you motivated. Training with a partner or a coach who is invested in your progress can help you stay accountable and motivated to keep pushing yourself.

    Repetition can get boring. To combat this dullness, play music and make it more challenging. As your training partner to increase resistance.

    For example, rather than just laying there, ask your partner to give some resistance through percentage guidance. "Alright, give me 65% resistance."

    This will make you work harder, learn more and keep things interesting. By asking your partner to be more engaged and simulate a realistic situation, you can make the most out of your drilling.

    The Limitations of Drilling In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    While drilling is a crucial aspect of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, it is not without its limitations. One of the main limitations is that BJJ is a grappling-only martial art, which means that striking techniques are not allowed. This can be a disadvantage in real-world self-defense situations where striking is a necessary component of defending oneself.

    If becoming a complete martial artist is your goal, ONLY drilling grappling techniques isn't enough.

    Additionally, the focus on grappling can create gaps in a practitioner's self-defense skills, as it may not provide enough training in areas such as situational awareness, de-escalation, and escape techniques. Drilling is effective for the martial arts itself but sometimes the best move in a self-defense situation is to get away from the aggressor, rather than trying to grapple with them.

    Miyamoto Musashi, wearing a black and red BJJ Gi, holding a sword, by the ocean.

    “The true science of martial arts means practicing them in such a way that they will be useful at any time, and teaching them in such a way that they will be useful in all things.” - Miyamoto Musashi

    Another limitation of drilling in BJJ is that it can lead to a false sense of confidence. Just because a technique has been drilled repeatedly does not necessarily mean it will work in a real match or self-defense situation.

    Other factors such as timing, distance, and unpredictability of an opponent need to be considered. Furthermore, a lack of variety in drilling can hinder creativity and adaptability in a practitioner's game.

    Developing A Well-Rounded Training Program For BJJ

    BJJ practitioners need to recognize these limitations and supplement their training with other forms of martial arts, self-defense classes, and situational awareness training to develop a well-rounded skill set. That's why live rolling is also a key element of BJJ training.

    During live rolling, practitioners can practice their techniques in a more realistic setting, and experience different scenarios and adaptations from opponents of different sizes, experiences, and strategies. This will help them develop their timing, reflexes, and decision-making skills.

    Combining drilling with live rolling can help practitioners to become complete martial artists.

    How can you incorporate drilling into your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training regimen?

    Incorporating drilling into your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training regimen can greatly improve your skills and overall performance.

    One of the best ways to do this is by attending regular BJJ classes and dedicating a significant portion of the session to drilling. It's important to focus on fundamental moves and sequences and to practice them correctly.

    BJJ Practitioners practicing in fantasy art

    Supplement your training by drilling on your own or with a partner outside of class time. This allows you to focus on specific moves that you may need more practice with or that you want to add to your arsenal.

    You can also watch instructional videos or tutorials to guide your drilling sessions and ensure that you are using the proper technique. Visualize what it would be like to execute the technique in a match or self-defense situation to get the most out of your drills.

    Finally, don’t hesitate to ask your professor how you can incorporate more drilling into your weekly schedule. Perhaps, private lessons may be offered. Or, you may be encouraged to access more open mats or attend other classes to diversify your training.

    Asking for advice and feedback from experienced coaches can help you build a more comprehensive and effective training program. BJJ black belts have such a strong knowledge base of this art form and asking for their advice can be a gamechanger...

    BJJ black belt Muscle Memory

    The best BJJ professors should be able to share some thought-provoking guidance to build the students’ overall game. This article goes into more depth about this topic: What Makes A Good BJJ Instructor? (12 Traits of Great Coaches)

    Final Thoughts

    It's important to set specific goals for your drilling sessions, whether it's improving a particular move or building endurance. By setting goals, you can track your progress and stay motivated. Additionally, try to make drilling a regular part of your training routine, just like sparring or conditioning.

    BJJ Practitioners practicing in fantasy art (Submission Shark)

    Remember, drilling is a critical component of BJJ training, especially for beginners. However, even as you move up the ranks, repetition and drilling will still be important as novel and more advanced moves are added to your circle of competence. 

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)
    jiu jitsu gear BJJ apparel The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)

    The Ice Breaker BJJ Gi (Limited Edition)

    Regular price $300.00 CAD Sale price$150.00 CAD