“Watch and Study Film on Jiu Jitsu Part 1/2”

One of the simplest yet often commonly ignored ways to accelerate your progress in Jiu Jitsu is to “Watch and Study Film”. Now notice it said to watch AND STUDY film not just watch the latest match at the Mundials or ADCC once and expect to replicate what the top guys are doing… Although even if you just watch the matches once you would most likely be light years ahead of those that don’t supplement their training with watching film! But to really get the most out of it you need to “Watch and Study Film” with study being the key word! All the top athletes and coaches in most sports around the world do this, why should Jiu Jitsu be any different? Make sure you choose high level matches preferably involving the top athletes in the sport. Stay away from instructional dvds/videos for now as they will not help you nearly as much as watching the best guys/girls play their A game in high level competition… The secrets of Jiu Jitsu are hidden in plain sight for everyone to see, you just need to be paying attention!

How do you study film you ask? Simple. And there are lots of different ways to go about this but I like to start small by choosing one match to break down and analyse. To keep it simple try to take around 30mins out of your day at least 2-3 times a week to begin with. You can build up and watch more later if you like but for now just start with 30mins of Film study 2-3 times a week.

Choose one match with your favourite BJJ competitors such as Rodolfo Vieira, Andre Galvao, Rafael Mendes, Marcelo Garcia, Xande Ribeiro etc. It can be a high action, fast paced entertaining match or  a slow low scoring grinding type match. Either one is fine as long as you are watching the very best athletes in the world, you are guaranteed to learn a lot from the matches. Now sit down somewhere quietly where you wont be distracted, CONCENTRATE and watch the fight in its entirety first. Write down a few brief notes about what you observed.

After you have watched the match once, watch it again this time paying attention to when and how each athlete scores on the other, as well as what the other athlete does to recover while going into damage control. You will learn just as much by watching what the top athletes do after being scored upon as they will be doing their very best to minimise the damage ie recover guard while being swept, re sweep while being swept to even the score, stand up and disengage off a sweep to negate the score and only lose an advantage etc. And these are just some examples of what happens after a sweep! 🙂 Again write down some notes on a new page with a few key points that you learnt or may want to try/work on in your own training.

I want you to then watch the match a third time and try to understand how the athletes set up their attacks, what lead to their technique being successful, did their opponent make a mistake, were they tricked into making a mistake or were they forced to make a mistake? You may need to rewind certain parts of the match the third time round and to really see what is going on particularly if they athletes are playing positions that you are not overly familiar with. Try to see how the athletes were attempting to defend the attacks and why they failed? Did the attack catch them off guard and totally by surprise, were they a little too late in their defense, did they choose the wrong defense relative to their opponent’s attack and the timing of their defense, what could they have done to avoid being scored on? Now you may not be able to answer all these questions and that is totally fine, the most important thing is that you are stimulating your Jiu Jitsu brain and increasing your awareness and understanding of the art! Concentrate, pay close attention and write down some notes about your observations (on another separate page), make a note of any techniques/positions that you wish to try or drill next time you train. Think about what you saw and why the athletes did what they did in those positions under intense competitive pressure!

Afterwards take a look through your notes, see how your notes from each viewing compare. Now this may sound obvious but the more times you watch the match closely the more you will learn and understand what is happening! You will see more with each concentrated viewing, your awareness will expand and your Jiu Jitsu brain will grow and become more knowledgeable! If you are really disciplined try studying the same match all week or month. If you study a high level match closely for a week or even a month your Jiu Jitsu brain or IQ will go through the roof! And you will probably start to find yourself becoming more creative and smooth on the mat as this type of study will often open many doors in your mind to some of the possibilities in Jiu Jitsu. Stay tuned for Part2 of “Watch and Study Film” in the coming weeks but for now try this and let me know how much it improves your game!


Good Luck with Your Training and Happy Rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu Jitsu Kingdom



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