From The Mind Of David Mitchell
I want to talk about the importance of having a game plan.
In everything that I spend any significant amount of time doing, I like to become successful at it. I feel that much of my success at improvement revolves around the fact that I make a game plan in whatever it is I am working on. This is especially important for the grappling arts. As many of you may know, I started off with wrestling for a few years. One of the most impactful things that I learned from these years of being on the wrestling mat was to have a plan going into every practice, every tournament, and every new season. These are not just goals or aspirations; such as having a winning record on the year, winning league, getting my letter or other objective based outcomes. The game plan is not something you aspire to do, it is something you work on and develop and implement every day. This is something that you build off of, your foundation, what you can perform no matter what. It is not something that revolves around what other people are going to do as much as it is what you are determining to do yourself. In this life, you can control your own actions, and not the actions of others. In this life, you control your reactions to other’s action. This is important in the outside world as well as on the mat.
A game plan is something you intend to implement into action that is clear and defined. It is what you excel at and can perform as a default or under duress. For jiu-jitsu, this could mean many things and many ways to look at this. I think one of the easiest ways to truly conceptualize this is to think of competition. Many great competitors know an abundance of fantastic moves and elaborate setups and finishes; and yet, when you see them in competition, their game consists of a much smaller subset of their games that they are just really good at and can perform with excellence. This is in essence, their game plan. These competitors have developed the few moves, in the most common positions, that they can perform exceptionally under the rigors of competition. So the breakdown in developing your “game” would be, (to steal this from Jacob Bell), Grips, Bottom, Top, Submission. The grips will be your preferred grips from standing and if you are going to pull guard or go for takedowns. The bottom would be what is a preferred grip and sweep from the bottom in the main guards (open/half/closed), top would be your progression passes to side control and mount/back control, and finally, your submissions are where you get your glory. This is something that will evolve over time and something that must be constantly honed and kept tight. Now this doesn’t exclude you from doing other moves than what is in the core your game plan, or from taking advantage of situations, but it is what your default attacks will be. If you are not attacking, you are reacting. The person who is constantly reacting, is usually the one tapping. So remember, it is imperative to have that default, solid game. When you have an adrenaline dump, or when you are in the last minute of a match, or when you are on the fifth match of the day with only five minutes rest; you still have a clear and defined plan of attack and you can implement it, no thought required.
Even if you don’t compete, it is very important to understand and implement a game plan. The reason being is this is where you can develop an identity and build off a foundation. This is not a static thing and can be evolved over time and through the learning process. Knowing what you are going to do in many of the common positions each time will help hone your skills, and then as you add more technique, you can branch out and incorporate these into your technique tree. If you imagine your journey in jiu-jitsu as the growth of a tree, there must have a solid and sturdy root system. These are your basic moves and positions, the things we drill on a daily basis, and the things you can do with excellence. Then, as you get better and you start learning more the truck grows strong. Through time, the branches and the leaves start to grow out, you start learning exotic chokes like the Ezekiel or the loop choke, or crazy worm and butterfly guards and the double under-over gorilla grip shoulder lock. These are the fun and flashy moves, while fun and good to know, are not your root and trunk foundation. Those exotic moves work in very specific circumstance and are oft forgotten when you are dead tired. There is a reason why we drill and work on the basics so often, because those win matches.
You might ask, so what does this mean for me and having a game plan on my daily grind? The answer to this is to know what your game plan is and to implement a daily action plan to evolve and improve upon it. Each day you should be trying to tighten up your game, make the strengths better and the weaknesses less weak. There is an important concept called the inch worm concept that I will cover in a future topic, but a concise explanation is that there needs to be progress in what you are good at, as well as what you struggle at in order to lessen the variance of your performance, as well as to progress further in your path. Anyway, each day you roll, should be done with a purpose. Just like in competition, if you are just reacting to what happens today at the gym, you are behind. You should be going in with a plan, maybe to roll with a certain person, work on a certain position, try a few of the new moves you are trying to implement in your game plan, but done while still maintaining the core of your game. Whatever it is, you are going to be developing your game. Now, you don’t always get to roll with that person, or the position that you wanted to work on might not show up, but you are going in with a plan of attack. You are taking your core game, and trying to add slowly, but diligently, to the foundation. This way your game plan can expand and become that much more dangerous. You cannot be afraid to challenge yourself and aspire to become better.
There are other benefits to really sitting down and trying to analyze your game plan. I challenge each and every one of you to sit down and write out your game plan. Take the most common positions in jiu-jitsu and develop what your default, your ideal situation is. If you start the match standing, what are your grips, what takedown are you going to go for; or are you going to pull guard? How are you going to pull guard? If you are in their closed guard, what is your go to pass? If you have closed guard, what is your go to sweep? These are very important to develop and I feel everyone should be able to have an answer to these questions. If it is one, two, or even sometimes three moves that you go for, that is great. The best would be a string of a few attacks that you start to attack with. The answer that kills me to hear is “I don’t know.” I readily admit that there are some positions that I have that answer to, and I work on it to make that a true answer, a defined answer. The reason why “I don’t know” is so dangerous, is that you are in that position and you don’t have a move, you are stuck allowing them to dictate the roll. This is blatantly obviously bad in a competition, but even in practice, it means they are sharpening their tools and you are stuck reacting. So you should have at least one thing you attempt, one thing you get good at from each common position. Then you add to it, you break free from “I don’t know” and you can give me a string of two or three moves that you attempt from there. You attack from top, from bottom, from each position, and then you start to revolutionize your game. When you take the time to have concentrated efforts in the development in your game, it becomes to blossom and become a force to be reckoned with. The brilliant thing is, through each day, you get to have great instruction to augment to that tree, each day a new technique to implement and work on. Through time, you have the ability to flow to moves, and see the finishes. It all starts with have a game plan though, having the base to build off of in order to obtain the positioning to access the next level.
Once again, I challenge you to really think and WRITE DOWN your own game plan, not once but every few months and develop it. Sit down with some higher belts, ask them to help you out. Strive to better yourself and those around you. Revolutionize your game.
Teaser For The Next Blog: Several Announcements
* November 22nd: Ant Do
* November 22nd: Copa Podio, Metamoris
* December 6th: Guerrilla Grand Prix (… like Twix, right?)
* December 20th: Semi-Annual Team Event @ Union City
…. full details in the next post… #StayTuned