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Learning models are about hacking your mind. These mental models help you get the most out of your training, learn faster and more consistently, overcome mental roadblocks, identify weaknesses in your game, and develop a champion’s mindset.
- 80/20 Rule
80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.
- Abundance Mindset
Learn to be happy for other people. Their gain does not necessarily mean your loss.
- Beginner’s Mind
Approach every learning opportunity as if you are a total beginner.
- Cognitive Load
Your brain struggles to learn when it runs out of working memory.
Take a step every day to improve your Jiu-Jitsu, even if that step is small.
- Defensive Thinking
Focus on succeeding rather than avoiding failure.
- First Principles
Break down complex ideas into fundamental concepts that stand alone, then build them back up again.
Create triggers and routines to help you get into “the zone.”
- Form to Leave Form
Drill techniques until they move from your conscious mind to your muscle memory.
- Growth From Discomfort
Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
- Growth Mindset
Don’t think of attributes like talent and athleticism as unchangeable.
- Habits Over Results
The best way to achieve long-term results is to build and maintain short-term habits.
- Incremental Learning
You won’t fully learn a technique in one attempt. Revisit a technique over time to add in the details you weren’t ready for earlier.
Study related skills or concepts in parallel.
- Investing in Loss
If you want to get good at something, you need to spend a lot of time being bad at it. View loss as an investment, rather than something to avoid.
Kaizen is the Japanese concept of continuous improvement.
- Learning Styles
When sharing information, the medium makes a difference.
- Loss Aversion
We feel losses as more painful than equivalent gains, so we tend to avoid situations where losses could occur.
- Making Smaller Circles
Master the core fundamentals of a technique before you branch off into the details. Focus on depth before breadth.
- Meditative Drilling
Meditative drilling transfers new techniques into muscle memory, even when you aren’t on the mats.
Train your attention on the present moment. Observe your mind and body as if from a distance.
Use memory shortcuts, known as mnemonics, to remember complex concepts.
- Naming Concepts
Assigning names to complex concepts makes them more memorable.
- Plus, Minus, Equals
Train with people better than you, worse than you, and equal to you.
- Principles Over Techniques
Memorize the principles behind techniques, rather than obsessing over step-by-step details.
- Resulting Fallacy
The quality of your decisions and the quality of your results are not always related.
- Scientific Method
Make your decisions objectively, and actively try to break your own ideas.
The only person you need to compare yourself against is the person you were yesterday.
The steps to mastery: imitate, break from tradition, innovate.
- Spaced Repetition
Spaced repetition is a technique that greatly improves your memory.
- Systematic Abandonment
What got you here won’t get you there.
- Train With Purpose
Define goals for every training opportunity and plans for achieving them.
- Training Handicaps
Train without using your strengths to improve your weaknesses.
- Transfer of Learning
You can get better at something by learning seemingly unrelated disciplines.
Mechanical models are about hacking your body. These mental models help you use physics and human biomechanics to control your own body and manipulate your opponent’s body with maximal force and efficiency.
- 3 Joint Rule
Limb control requires you to dominate 2/3 of the joints; submissions require 3/3.
- Anatomic Hierarchy
The human body has six weapons, and the core is the strongest.
- Body Tethering
Be wary of any technique requiring you to tether your body to your opponent’s core.
- Breaking Mechanics
Breaking mechanics describe the process of breaking a lever or joint.
- Center of Gravity
It’s easier to sweep your opponent in the direction where they’re already leaning.
- Choking Mechanics
There are three types of chokes: air chokes, blood chokes, and cranks.
- Controlled Breathing
Be mindful of your breathing at all times. Maintain a deliberate, relaxed cadence of breath.
- Core Mechanics
All techniques in Jiu-Jitsu are combinations of frames, levers, wedges, clamps, hooks, and posts.
- Critical Control Points
For every technique, there are only a handful of control points that really matter.
- Direct vs. Proxy Control
Control can be either direct (eg. a limb) or proxy (eg. the gi).
- Elbow-Knee Connection
Keep your elbows close to your knees.
- Force Compression
Apply force in rapid, intense bursts.
- Force Vectors
Identify the exact angle of incoming force, and meet it or redirect it.
- Head Position
Proper positioning of your head controls the distance, improves posture, and minimizes attack vectors.
- Inside Channel Control
Control the “inside channel,” or the space between your opponent’s arms and legs.
- Kinetic Chains
Joints affect each other when in motion, and creating “closed circuits” with your limbs makes them stronger.
- Leading Edges
Focus your defense where your opponent is generating the most force.
- Limb Coiling
Keep your limbs coiled close to your core, ready to strike.
- Mirrored Stances
Only square your stance if your opponent squares their stance as well.
- Overwhelming Force
Use overwhelming force when attacking a limb or joint. The limbs you’re attacking with should be stronger than the limb being attacked.
- Ratchet Control
Add rotation when controlling a limb to increase effectiveness.
- Seated vs. Supine Guards
Guards can be either supine (on your back) or seated.
- Single vs. Double Lever Control
Attacking a single lever affords more damage, whereas attacking two levers affords more control.
- Solid Frames
The strongest frames use bone structure and contain few joints that can be collapsed.
- Staying Loose
Keep your muscles relaxed, and only tense them to finish an already successful attack.
- Stress and Recovery
Alternate between periods of stress and recovery for maximal growth.
- Surface Area
Apply force using the smallest possible surface area of your body.
- Theory of Alignment
Jiu-Jitsu is a game of preserving your posture, structure, and base, while attempting to break your opponent’s.
- Types of Guard
All guards can be classified as hook-based, clamp-based, frame-based, or hybrid.
Social models are about hacking your environment. These mental models help you improve relationships with our training partners and build effective teams.
- Cognitive Dissonance
When your actions and beliefs aren’t aligned, your mind gets uncomfortable and tries to resolve the discrepancy.
- Discipline Equals Freedom
Disciplined practice creates freedom of thought and expression.
- Emotional Contagion
Emotions are contagious. Be wary of infecting those around you with negativity.
- Extreme Ownership
Take ownership of all areas of your life, even those that are not your fault or responsibility.
- Feedback Loop
Feedback is most effective when provided immediately.
- The Golden Rule
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Idea Communism
Rapid leaps in knowledge come from the free sharing of information.
- Keep it Playful
Jiu-Jitsu needs to be fun for both you and your training partner.
- Levels of Competition
People operating at the highest levels aren’t just “better;” they structure their lives in a completely different way.
- Psychological Safety
Create an environment where thoughts and opinions can be freely shared.
- Race to the Bottom
Avoid the pressure to undervalue your services.
- Raise the Level in the Room
For senior grapplers, the best way to improve is to help your training partners improve.
- Rapoport’s Rules
Understand and respect ideas before you criticize them.
- Respect People, Not Positions
Treat everyone equally, regardless of their status or authority.
- Respect Your Opponent
Failure to respect your opponent often has disastrous consequences.
Strategic models are about hacking your decision-making. These models help you make quicker decisions in battle, set the table to make victory more likely, and find and exploit weaknesses in your opponent’s game.
- Alignment Over Position
Managing alignment is more important than managing position.
- Asymmetric Warfare
Prefer strategies that attack your opponent where they are weakest.
- Committed Techniques
When you have multiple options available, favor techniques with a higher chance of retaining position.
- Controlling the Distance
Take away space when attacking and create space when defending.
- Crossing the Center
The body is vulnerable when limbs are passed across the center line.
- Defend With Purpose
A defense is only a good defense if it gets you out of the bad position.
- Dictate the Pace
Be active, not reactive.
Force your opponent to choose between two equally bad options.
- Do What Works
If a technique is working for you, it’s a good technique regardless of what anyone says.
- Dominant Angles
Create positions where your opponent is not fully facing you, and exploit those angles.
- Double Trouble
To fully control a near side limb, you must also control a far side limb.
- Economy of Motion
Favor techniques that require minimal movement and energy.
Take away options until your opponent is forced to fight you where you’re strongest.
- Grip Inversion
The instant your opponent grips you, find a way to invert the grip so you control your opponent.
- Grips Dictate Position
Whoever controls the grips controls the position.
Find creative solutions by attacking problems backward.
Break your opponent’s balance before attempting a throw or sweep.
- Layers of Guard
Like an onion, the guard has many layers. You pass by peeling the layers back one by one.
- The Map Is Not the Territory
Mental models are not always 100% accurate.
- Marginal Gains
Big results come from a series of small, incremental improvements.
- Mask Your Intentions
Mask your intentions so your opponent doesn’t know what you’re really attacking.
Single techniques rarely work. Success comes from exploiting windows between techniques.
- Minimize Attack Vectors
Position your body to reduce the places your opponent can attack you.
Don’t get so caught up in what you want that you ignore better opportunities.
- Path of Least Resistance
Go around obstacles rather than through them.
- Phases of Guard
Guard has three distinct phases: engagement, maintenance, and retention. Know the right strategy for each.
Don’t abandon one point of control until you’ve replaced it with another.
- Position Over Submission
Prefer positional advancement and security over submission attempts. Do not attempt submissions unless you are fully secure in your position.
- Predictable Responses
Each technique has a series of common and predictable reactions.
- Prevention Over Cure
Preventing a problem is better than fixing it after the fact.
- Prioritize Longevity
Be wary of techniques and scenarios that have a high chance of self-injury.
- Probabilistic Thinking
Create scenarios where success is a high probability.
- Return on Investment
Calculate the risk and possible reward before taking any action.
- Shifting Platforms
Continuously move and switch angles to prevent your opponent from applying pressure against you.
- Technique Chaining
A non-stop series of attacks works a lot better than a single attack.
- Tipping Points
Once you have sufficient leverage or momentum, your desired outcome can no longer be denied.
- Win Conditions
By knowing and exploiting the rules, you can defeat an otherwise superior opponent who doesn’t.