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July 31, 2023

The Importance Of Experimentation

Jason Kramer

The Importance Of Experimentation

One of the best ways to progress meaningfully stems from deliberate practice.

Often we’ll try a technique for a while, just to move to something else — another shiny, new move. We keep adding small parts; some of these parts get incorporated into our game, but some don’t last.

Rather than collecting techniques like isolated notches on a belt, one of the best ways to make the small parts more effective, and put all the pieces together, requires you to play around with an idea.

Consider taking one idea, concept or technique you want to improve — a position, a sweep, a submission or combination,  a right hook or a kimura, it’s all the same. You can pick anything.

Image: Matthew Barton.

You have one goal: to play with different paths while ending at the same destination — with that technique applied.

When developing the kimura, try it from guard, from mount, from when someone has your back, when you have their back, in leg entanglements, from the bottom of side control, when passing, north-south, on the feet, when escaping mount. Try it from literally any position you can think of.

Then, set a timer. Play with the idea for a few minutes in any given position, then switch. Better yet, have someone call out random positions.

Image: Matthew Barton.

You’ll discover a lot of failure.

You’ll get your back taken. You’ll get your guard passed. You’ll get mounted.

It’s inevitable.

Yet, you will also discover new ways to use ideas. If you focus only on a single technique for a few minutes with an open mind aimed at play instead of winning, you’ll be amazed at the discoveries you’ll make.

It’s not a loss to fail

Every failure will show you something new, and every repetition further solidifies your abilities at the skill that you’re developing.

Exploring an idea from as many positions as possible helps keep things from getting stale amid the focused reps. You can have a great time pursuing a ridiculous idea from a ridiculous position, even if it leads to utter failure.

It also offers insight into the possibilities available to you, or what you might need to make something work.

Competition is for wining and for deploying a designed game.

Training is for developing your game.

It’s easy to get seduced into winning with training. While winning can act as a good indicator of our progress, don’t rule out losing during training.

Let people pass so you can try your idea from a position you wouldn’t try it from. You’ll find new transitions and mastery of the middle space you won’t find in most other kinds of training.

Image: Matthew Barton.

If you’re lucky enough to have a partner willing to drill with you, refine your discovery; micro drill it.

Sweep and submit, grip and sweep, or off-balance and set up — anything; explore your idea of failure to feel out that middle space where the real battles are won or lost.

Some days we have to go hard and make sure we push yurself into the spaces we need to get pushed. Other days, we find the best training in looking for novel ideas by letting go of our favorite ways to success.

At the end of the day, no matter what our training looks like, experimentations remains our best, most over-looked tool to get better.

Thinking about trying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai? Take a free class at one of our eight academies!

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