Retaining Information in BJJ: Best techniques to remember and improve

BJJ Training Documentation: Maximizes the Chance of Retaining the Information


When you decided to try the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, you might have a busy schedule. You might be driven and passionate when it comes to your job. To remember all the important points in your training and retain information during the seminar when you have a lot of things to juggle is a challenge. But first, you need to appreciate the benefits this sport brings to your health.


Physically, it makes you more flexible and agile, lowers your blood pressure, aids in weight loss, and improves the quality of your sleep. This martial art does not only offer you the needed exercise to make you active, but it also focuses mostly on the mind and emotions. Mentally and emotionally, it helps you to:


  • Reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Fight depression and mental illness.
  • Improve mood and social interaction.
  • Have better cognitive functions and ability.

BJJ aims to achieve a balanced view of health through clean eating and exercise. It develops mental fortitude, self-discipline, and strength of character in the face of uncertainty or adversity. It's a self-defense system that encourages humility, patience, resiliency, and perseverance while building confidence mentally, physically, and emotionally.


Knowing these benefits surely would motivate you to give more time to attend your BJJ classes and go to the gym regularly for your drilling and rolling. Granted you already have done these, you might ask these question, “Is there a method I can use so I retain most of the information and get promoted to the next level in a short period of time?”


Here comes the role of proper documentation. It keeps track of your training and provides written history on your progress and identify the gaps so you can make action plans to resolve them. By having a planner or journal, you can note down your mat experiences and learnings from your seminars so you can review and analyze your performance and achievements.



Getting the Benefits of Documentation


All your improvements may become useless if you have not documented all these. Why does documenting your training proves to be important? It helps you stay on the right track of your regime. It also shows you how to work-out efficiently and progress quickly. Further, it helps you to see your weak points so you can focus on them while taking advantage of your strong points.

You can see all your progress if you have practiced proper documentation. Knowing them keeps you motivated. Understanding your weakness and how to fill the gap helps you become a better player. But all these have no value if have retained only a small portion of the information given to you by your trainers and coaches.


Sometimes, you tend to be overconfident in your routines. You get so focused on your workouts, practice, and tournaments that you forget to log daily. Don’t fall into this trap where you miss out in writing on your planner regularly. What do you think will happen? You end up not knowing how far you’ve gone on your training and no basis to analyze your progress and performance.


How documentation benefits your training by retaining more information? Having a planner or journal, you can:


  • Determine your purpose. What’s is your personal goal in joining BJJ? Is it the workout, tournament, career (BJJ champion, black belt, master, instructor, or trainer), making friends, or be a part of the brotherhood? When you’ve written your specific goal, your action plans are geared toward achieving this goal.

  • Identify your trainable skills and potentials. In between each roll, you can use your break to jot down what moves and techniques worked well and what didn’t work. After you review your notes, you can consult your mentor or trainer how to develop new tactics to improve on your weak points and build a good defense.

  • Link training goals to your habit and lifestyle. To achieve your goals, the way you lead your life should be in harmony with what you want to become. BJJ is a healthy lifestyle. So, eat anti-inflammatory whole food, have a regular circadian rhythm, practice warm-ups before rolling on the mat, and do low-impact and range-in-motion exercises.

  • Evaluate your skills and identify performance gaps. The performance gap is the difference between your training goal and your current skills. When you have the documentation, it serves as a tool to evaluate how far you have come toward reaching your goals. It also gives you a benchmark how far you still need to go to attain them.

  • You can then develop concrete strategies to close the gap between your goal and actual performance on the mat. If you’re weak in a certain area, you can plan to remedy the situation right away if you have documented your training. Then you can formulate your action plans to attain your desired skills level.


  • Prioritize your training needs. When you have combined the data of your trainable skills and performance gaps, this results in a list of your training priorities. You now determine what areas in BJJ techniques and moves you need to work on. Or, maybe you need to work on other areas such as your diet and nutrition or training schedule.

  • Choose your training style and level. There are a lot of jiu-jitsu schools, university, and academy which offer excellent personal or group mentoring and coaching. You can also supplement actual training with tournament videos, lectures, seminars, and training camps. Choose what suits you best and what program you’re comfortable with.

  • Documenting your BJJ training on the principles and techniques which you must follow and apply is the best thing you could have done. You can get accurate and up-to-date status of your skills and potentials. So, you can design your training regime based on your specific needs and requirements. You call this smart training by using documentation to retain more information.



    Learning How to Retain Information


    Have you been to a BJJ seminar then afterward find it hard to remember all that had been discussed? Don't despair, you’re not alone. People tend to forget almost 40% of the new information within the first 24 hours of receiving it. You are not different unless you have a photographic memory.  But, taking notes enables you to retain almost 100% you heard or read.


    What does effective documentation require? Here are a few factors:


    • Effort. It involves active learning. So, it means when you write on your planner or journal, you engage with your training. Writing out information by hand can commit it to your memory. You think about it, you analyze the data and reach a decision or conclusion. Then you conceptualize an action plan to reach your training goal.

    Trying to document the moment or a certain episode, you capture the information beyond the capacity of your working brain. When you use hand-written notes with traditional pen and paper, you retain more information. It is because you’re exerting more effort so you remember the information more clearly.


    • Organization. When you have a planner or journal, you are more organized when it comes to your schedule, diet, and exercises. You avoid being stressed out and pressured because you created a daily or weekly routine. Stress affects your memory thus hinder recall and concentration.

    • Preparation. Before going to the gym make sure you have already accomplished your planner. Write down the technique you want to improve and the steps how to achieve it so, you know what to expect when you’re on the mat. You would display a better understanding and application of BJJ techniques if you have familiarized yourself with the moves ahead of time.

    Not only are your game plans ready you must also ready your brain. Set it in a note-taking mindset so, you would be in a good mood to write during your short breaks. Attitude is everything if you want to learn. If you go to the gym with a bad mood, how can you retain information because you’re distracted by other things?


    Here are 5 steps to excellent documentation so you maximize your ability to learn the art of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu:


    1. Prepare a page where you can write in the same manner each day.

    This documentation process is routine. You do it daily more or less at the same time of the day in the same manner So, follow your structured outline and leave enough spaces and lines for your notes, comments, and feedbacks. Familiarization with the method of your documentation makes you comfortable with your tasks.


    1. Focus and take down notes with your own words.

    It’s your journal so you write it personally using your own words and style. Try to use short sentences or phrases for easy recall. Numbering and bullet emphasize your ideas and makes the list easy to read and follow. Put your ideas in a logical manner so you can review your notes objectively and analytically.


    1. Capture important rather than trivial information.

    Write down critical details of your mat experience. How you deliver the move and what is the outcome. When it was a success, what factors contribute to your winning. But when the move failed, what areas you need to improve on so you deliver it successfully next time you’re on the mat again. Don’t record trivial matters so you won’t crowd the space to avoid confusion.


    1. Exchange ideas with your coach, trainer, or mentor.

    Get ideas from the experts so you come up with an objective analysis. You learn a lot if there are several brains that contribute relevant information. Two or three heads are better than one. You might have overlooked something. Since your trainer closely follows what’s going on and he’s more skilled than you, his opinions and feedbacks are important for you to learn.

    1. Connect all your learnings by writing a summary.

    Summarizing helps you determine the essential ideas and how to integrate the main points of your notes into your training. Writing a summary improves memory and retention of information of your training regime. A good summary condenses information and is concise, accurate, and objective. It teaches you to focus on keywords for easy recall



    Knowing How to Document Your BJJ Training


    Everyone in jiu-jitsu who’s serious with this sport wants to have an edge, to be better than his opponent. But, the way you play reflects only the way you're trained. You may have noticed that a lot of high-performers are more focused, accountable, and progressed quickly. How they fast-tracked their training. They will tell you that they’re using a training method.


    Effective journaling or documentation is what the black belts and the masters have been doing when they just started. They might have told you that they keep until now stacks of journals since they were a white belt, and up to the present but in a different manner. How could you use this method to gain more from your training? Here are the steps to your BJJ documentation:


  • Identify an area you want to focus on.  Jiu-jitsu is a complex martial art so, you need to evaluate what area you want to focus on to gain more skills and knowledge. There are a lot of principles and techniques to learn because you don’t just do actual combat, but you also embrace the jiu-jitsu healthy lifestyle.

  • Focused training makes your approach become systematic and integrated and this is only made possible through effective documentation. When you have identified your focused area, you can customize your training and use your traits to benefit your game and performance. You maximize the retention of information to keep your edge.


    Documentation helps you target your potentials and abilities thus motivates you to do better since you are accountable for your personal growth and progress as a player. Not only you will become a skilled player but also a better person - more confident, more cheerful, more energized, and healthier.


  • Define measurable goals. After you have identified a specific area, you can then formulate your measurable goal which means it should be time-bound such as one week or a month. Why is it important to put a limit? Time-bound goals put a sense of urgency to your training so it’s challenging and rewarding to keep you on your toes.

  • You would know how far you’ve gone on your training or how long you have perfected a technique. When there is a training gap, you can immediately adjust your strategies so you won’t stagnate and lose motivation. You can maintain your training momentum and achieve your BJJ goal within the allotted period.


  • Formulate your strategies. These are ways to achieve your strategic goals which you can write in a logical order. It’s a step-by-step approach using a numbering system or bullets.  You need a strategy to beat your opponent and avoid injuries. Before you start formulating your strategies, review your current situation and past performance.

  • Your journal or planner can help you with this process. Look at what went well, what you could have done better, and what are your opportunities. You may develop a mission statement such as “How will I do it?” or “What value does it bring to me”? It helps you to focus what your present needs to realize your long-term vision.


    By now, you must have memorized the 9 positions so you have familiarized yourself with the whole system. You can then place your techniques based on these positions using the basic elements - submission, pass, and sweep. This way, you develop your skills as you designate your own techniques to each position.


  • Execute your game plans. It’s now your chance to apply the theory on the mat. However, what will help you with the execution of your moves is to create a visualization in your mind. Running these moves in your mind helps you memorize them and improve your recall when you’re grappling with your partner under pressure.

  • Hold yourself at a higher standard by sparring not only with fellow students with the same skill levels but also with advanced and more proficient partners. Leave your ego at the door so, you can accept defeat and feedbacks from your trainer or mentor. Also, it helps you to objectively analyze your game.


    Analyze the outcome of your game. After rolling, reflect on what happened. How did you execute your technique successfully or what went wrong? That’s the reason you need to be free of prejudice and bias so, you can analyze what had happened correctly. You get the right answer why you’ve won and why you’ve lost. You have accurate data to base on your next training goal.