If you're reading this looking for a shortcut or secret to be a killer on the mat, I'm sad to say that doesn't exist. The only way to get better is to spend time on the mats, period. Now that doesn't mean you can't take steps to get the full value of your training, no matter how much time you have to dedicate to being in the gym. Here are a few things I've used over my almost 10 years on the mat that have kept me training.
Be consistent: This may seem obvious, but this is the best tip I can give you. Coming into class 3 or more times a week is a great place to start! Constant exposure to the part of the curriculum your instructor is going over that week is the best way to excel. Life can get busy, but if you can schedule that hour/hour and a half a few times a week, you'll see growth in no time!
Write it down: Everyone learns differently. You need to know the best way you learn new information and apply it to your training. Bring a notebook, ask if your instructor minds if you record the techniques, anything that can help you stay organized. There is so much information you have to learn in Jiu Jitsu that having some sort of catalog to refer to will help tremendously.
Have fun: Don't lose the love! Its easy to get competitive in a martial art like Jiu Jitsu. You see teammates that learn faster, get more submissions, or go more rounds in rolling and its easy to compare yourself to them if you're not there yet. Don't forget why you came in to train in the first place, I guarantee it wasn't to compare yourself to others. Everybody's journey will be different, and if you ever get down on yourself, just think of how you were before you started and how far you've come instead of how far you have to go.
Listen to your body: Jiu Jitsu is intense! There will be injuries, it would be nice to say you'll never get hurt on your journey to black belt, but that would be an irresponsible lie. If you are injured, talk with you're instructor to see if they have techniques you can drill, or they may tell you to take some time off and heal. The best ways to prevent injuries are: lifting weights to increase joint strength, eating well, have a solid post training stretch/recovery routine, and the biggest one TAP IN TRAINING!!! If you're caught in a submission by a teammate in the gym, there is no honor in not tapping. Its just plain stupid not to tap. You get hurt, cant train, team loses a training partner, your partner feels bad, and no one will want to roll with you since they'll be sacred to hurt you because your ego is too big. Tap, move on, and ask your teammate what they did and how to stop it. It can be hard to swallow your pride and submit. Don't look at tapping as losing in your gym, look at it as learning and everyone who rolls with you will grow along with you.
In conclusion, there are no secrets or shortcuts to get better. Come in as often as possible. Write down or videotape your techniques (AND DRILL DURING DRILL TIME). Have fun with it and only compare yourself to the person you were before you started, and finally listen to your body. Jiu Jitsu is a vehicle for self discovery, and its a long road to get there. Strap yourself in, and get ready for the ride of your life!Google+