I am a big believer in games. I like to play games in my classes– I am a kindergarten teacher, after all. The warm-ups and drills for my BJJ classes are always full of games and silliness and general chaos, but people always tell me afterwards that they got a great workout. So there’s that, I suppose. I guess having the emotional maturity of a three-year-old is helpful at times.
My goal for the next few weeks is to slowly ramp up my intensity in sparring. I have a (good? bad? neutral?) habit of using very little power while I am sparring; I’m a big believer in the “wait for the right time” approach. But in competition, this is not always possible. Sometimes you have one minute or two minutes left and you just need to push as hard as you can. Intellectually, I know this, but somehow, before competition, preparing for that moment gets pushed to the back burner. And then in competition, it invariably bites me in the ass. It happens when I’m racing, too– doesn’t matter how long the race is, that last 1-2km make me want to die, and sometimes it causes me to get mentally defeated. That makes me a little ashamed. I suppose it’s unavoidable that my body does that, but what I CAN work on is getting my mind prepared for that moment so that it doesn’t take so much out of me.
Here’s the drill that I learned as a child (and refined as an adult) that is designed to help your intensity in competition. I will use it in my classes this week and next.
- Set 10 minutes on the clock, with a buzzer meant to go off at 1 minute intervals.
- Pick a sparring partner. No submissions are allowed, but stalling is acceptable if you get a dominant position.
- Spar for one minute. Try to get the top position.
- When the buzzer goes off, get up and run to another partner. You can jump on their back, get into mount, whatever you can manage.
- If two people attack the same person, they must fight each other.
- Spar for one minute. Rinse and repeat.
- The game is finished after 10 minutes. There are no breaks, and there is no resting.
I play this game with a few variations. It’s designed to force people into intense sparring– you only have one minute to gain a dominant position. It’s like a drinking game; once you start losing, you will probably keep losing. But part of the game is to try to reverse that downward spiral.
Here are the variations I like to play with my classes:
Variation 1: This variation is for odd-numbered classes. One person sits out. They must do [insert cardio activity here] for one minute.
Variation 2: This version is good for bigger classes; submissions are allowed. If you are submitted, you’re out, go do [insert activity] for the remainder of the time allotted. Follow the rules in variation 1 for odd numbers of players.
Variation 3: If you get and maintain a dominant (I like to use point-scoring positions as the benchmark, just to make it easier) position for three seconds, you can leave the person you are sparring with and attack anyone else on the mat. This version is much more chaotic, and works best with small classes.
I like to incorporate drills and games into my classes, as I said before, so I have a lot of them. If you have any requests for drills/games for any particular position or aspect of BJJ, let me know, I’ve got a million.