If you’re looking to improve faster or simply want to start your journey into BJJ, your first stop should be the internet and the various instructional videos and DVDs available on the market.
There’s never been a better time to start Jiu-Jitsu because there are so many resources online for you to access.
In summary, we’ll look at how you can establish your entire game online using video by:
- Analyzing high-level competition footage to find the techniques that work best for your natural strengths and abilities
- Studying these techniques using instructional videos to understand the details of the various defensive, offensive, and transitional positions
- Effectively integrating these new techniques into your game using video-enabled coaching
If you’re not a member yet, be sure to join our global community of fighters.
Even the great Eddie Bravo emphasized the importance of collaboration and recording yourself to improve and refine your game:
BJJ - The Gentle Art
BJJ - The Gentle Art
Can You Learn BJJ With Video?
You can learn many aspects of BJJ online like concepts, techniques, and game strategy. With the increase in the popularity of video, you’re now even able to start watching and analyzing your own training as well as receive coaching online by world champion grapplers.
Learning skills online are unfortunately not going to transform you into an excellent grappler.
BJJ is a contact sport, where a lot of the learning happens while rolling around on the floor with your training partner.
This is not to say that you can’t learn anything off the mats as well, I have a guide on how to do that.
Jiu-Jitsu is a very extensive art, with the widest curriculum of techniques and concepts of any martial art.
The theory that underlies BJJ is enough for any nerd to appreciate – So naturally, there will be ways of learning this theory online.
Step 1: Identify Your Game With YouTube
The first thing any BJJ practitioner must do is identify the aspect of their game that they’d like to develop.
What does that mean?
Everyone is born with certain unique characteristics that influence their capabilities on the mat.
If you’re tall and lanky, a guard like single-leg X might be a bit impractical to transition into and maintain.
I’m a very short guy so I tend to struggle with guards that require distance control with your legs – Like spider-guard and closed-guard.
My limited flexibility also restricts me to techniques and transitions that don’t require limber hips and legs.
So how do you identify the best BJJ strategy for you?
- Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses – Do you have long legs? Are you relatively flexible? Are you fast? Are you strong?
The beauty of Jiu-Jitsu is that you can find a game for almost any body type that will make you a formidable opponent.
I regularly get beaten by guys who aren’t necessarily as strong as I am, but they’ve invested their time and effort into a solid guard that’s perfect for their abilities and very crisp techniques that are difficult to defend against.
- Watch fights by champions with similar characteristics – Now start looking for top-tier fighters who have similar builds and characteristics as yours.
I’m a very short guy with good strength and speed at my disposal.
I’ve spent a lot of time watching Bruno Malfacine, he has a very similar build to me and the same attributes that I’d need to consider.
What I’ve done to start identifying my game is to watch all of Bruno’s matches.
Studying what he considers to be his most useful moves and transitions because he’s only going to use what works best in high-level competition.
- Keep it simple – Try not to work on too many things at once.
Decide what you’d like to focus on, based on what you’d identified.
If you’ve discovered a guard that works best for your body type, start trying to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your guard.
Do this by watching and learning from top-tier fighters who can effectively defend and submit against guard passing machines.
The best place to look for fighters to study is YouTube, I’d recommend starting on the IBJJF’s Official YouTube channel.
They’re always uploading new match footage of fighters from all over the world, in all weight divisions.
Many high-tier fighters will have recordings of their training and fighting on YouTube and on their various social platforms.
Once you’ve identified the fighter you’d like to study, go and look for their highlight reels and match compilations.
That way you’ll be able to identify multiple techniques and transitions that might be effective for your own game.
Step 2: Develop Your Game With Instructional Videos
Now that you’ve identified the various techniques that might work for your game, it’s time to start prioritizing which one is worth learning first and then optimizing.
I’d recommend focusing on your defense and escapes first.
Having a solid defense and being able to escape from difficult situations will give you the confidence to attack without fear of sweeps.
Once you’ve prioritized and identified what you’d like to work on, now it’s time to look for instructional videos specific to that.
The first place to start looking for instruction for your chosen technique is once again, YouTube.
Simply searching for something like ‘bjj half guard retention’ will bring up hundreds of videos with the best techniques for retaining half guard.
To start developing the smaller nuances of the technique you’ve chosen, I’d recommend investing in the instructional video addressing that specific position.
Many times the elite fighter that you’ve identified will have their own instructional series out, either through a platform like BJJ Fanatics or on their own platform like Because Jitsu by Drew Weatherhead.
If the fighter you’ve identified hasn’t got their own instructional videos out, there will definitely be another grappler to provide that info.
The main thing to be doing when developing your BJJ game is figuring out the small details that you should be looking out for when in a specific position.
When you know what to look out for and what options are available to you from a position, you’ll see a huge improvement when you’re able to get back to the mat.
Again, if you don’t have the money to spend on instructional DVDs, there are plenty of free instructional videos available online.
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even TikTok are filled with skilled BJJ Practitioners sharing their knowledge and techniques.
Even famous competitors and coaches like John Danaher, his student Gordon Ryan, Andre Galvao, Marcelo Garcia, and many more are freely providing the most essential BJJ techniques on video.
Only charging for their more advanced level transitions and techniques.
Step 3: Drill And Get Feedback With Video
Now you’ve established what you’re going to be working on.
You’ve found the perfect instructional video to help develop your technique.
Now it’s time to go one step further to start implementing this new technique into your game.
If you don’t have a grappling partner to drill the new technique with, you can use a grappling dummy.
One of the most valuable methods for learning anything in Jiu-Jitsu is by watching yourself roll, and by receiving valuable feedback from the more experienced grapplers.
Both from your training partners, as well as a coach who can give you pointers where necessary.
How Do You Record Your BJJ Training?
The best way I’ve found to record myself rolling is by using an app called RCRD (Currently only available on Apple – Android coming soon).
It lets you securely record your training, automatically uploads the recording to the cloud and you’re then able to watch it back and share it with your training partner or coach for feedback.
Recording your training is the easy part, understanding how to use the recording is the fun part!
We’ve been recording training at my local gym for a little over a year now and we’ve found it extremely useful.
Looking for your very first Jiu-Jitsu gi, or need to replace your old one? I’ve created the Ultimate Buyers Guide for you.
Improve Your BJJ Faster Using Video
Video provides a unique opportunity to watch yourself like a coach does, from a third-party perspective.
This is extremely powerful because you’re able to understand exactly what you and your training partners are doing.
Giving you something to focus on when you’re trying to improve.
We use our recordings to improve faster in 3 specific ways:
- To self-reflect on our training
- To get feedback on our training
- To share great learning moments (good or bad)
What video allows you to do is get the same level of attention you would in a private BJJ lesson, but with permanent feedback that you can come back to whenever you want.
Imagine studying your own training in as much detail as you study those instructional videos!
So let’s break it down into a few practical steps that you can use to start improving faster today:
Find Something To Improve On
Did you know that you only really see about 20% of what’s going on when you’re training?
Much of what we do in BJJ is based on feel, that’s why you’ll often see people training with their eyes closed.
By recording your training and watching it back, you’re able to see 100% of what’s going on. You’ll see what your opponent did to get the sweep or to counter your attack.
Or you’ll see a cool transition that you did that would be difficult to replicate without watching how you pulled it off.
If you’re able to pick up on these small but important things, you’ll be able to improve a lot quicker.
We do this on Strictly Fighters by using time-stamped comments to earmark noteworthy moments.
The advantage of using video is that you’re able to improve incrementally because you can target very specific aspects of your game.
Incremental changes are normally permanent and they tend to compound over time, improving your BJJ up to 3x faster.
Help Others By Coaching Each Other
One of the great things about BJJ is the community that’s formed around it.
It’s a group of people that are always looking to improve, but more importantly, they want their training partners to improve as well.
After all, would you want training partners that don’t challenge you?
By working collaboratively with your team or other fighters to coach each other, you could improve everyone’s skills simultaneously and far quicker than you normally would.
So find a moment that you’d like some coaching on and share that with your coach or training partner.
You can then use the time-stamped comments to ask a question about a specific moment, that others can comment on for coaching.
Share Good And Bad Teachable Moments
Another great thing about video is that it’s permanent until you decide to delete it.
This means that you’re able to start growing a library of good and bad moments.
Some that you should try to replicate more often and others that you should always be trying to avoid.
Use these reflective moments for yourself or share them with your team so that they can also learn from your mistakes.
By opening up the conversation to your team or at very least your training partner, you’ll have new opportunities for improvement that would otherwise never be possible without video.
This is especially good to do if you’re coaching or an aspiring coach, collect a bunch of great examples of do’s and don’ts that you can use as resources for your students.