So what is SMART Training?

Quite a few people have e-mailed and asked me to elaborate on what I mean by SMART training. Obviously, this is a difficult question to answer in one or even several blogs – but I’ll try to offer a few pertinent points here now:

- Get your foundation/Basics squared away before you get too deep into ‘personal game’ development. Be an all-rounder first – know something about every position before you start to learn everything there is about any one position.
- Don’t ‘Fight/compete every time you wrestle. Make sure to spend a lot of time ‘playing jiu jitsu’ – this way you will try new things, experiment, turn left where you have usually turned right and thereby make discoveries.
- Follow a syllabus. By following a good syllabus, you will ensure that you are always covering a healthy and balanced cross-spectrum of techniques and strategies – and not become too narrow-focussed or irrelevant.
- If possible, keep your training session to an hour or so – and do that two to three times a week. Regular smaller training sessions through the week are a far better way to go than a single huge session on the weekend.
- Have at least one great training partner, with whom you have made an arrangement to work and experiment with. Everyone needs a partner with whom they can say ‘freeze – let me work this problem’. Good training partners are hard to come by – so when you get one, spend plenty of time helping them with their problems and ‘sticking points’. You and your training partner will form a ‘team of two’. This is vital.
- Once you have a solid foundation – (A Blue belt level should reflect this ideal) then it’s time to start working on your ‘personal game’. This should be a game that focuses on using your technical strengths. When you start out developing your personal game, you need to (at bare minimum) develop game-plans that will address at least three areas: PASSING – SWEEPING or ATTACKING from the Guard – and FINISHING from the top somewhere (mount, side control, etc)
- As a very rough guide – try working each of the above game-plans for a month or two at a time. Ie: Focus on Guard passing for a month – then focus on your sweeping, then focus on your favourite finish. This ‘month per technique’ can be stretched out to two or even three months per technique if you have the mental focus and discipline to do so. You are guaranteed to make huge gains.
- Treat injuries with respect. Yours and others. If your train every day, you can expect to be carrying some sort of injury, most of the time. Pro rugby players are almost always injured – and if you train every day, you can expect to be having to deal with some nagging injury on a regular basis. It’s okay if you are smart about rehab and sensible with your grappling. I prefer to get on the mat when I am injured and take the opportunity to work on some other aspect of my game/training. I choose not to ‘take two weeks off’ – as would be prescribed by the local GP. Partly though, because this is my profession – I need to be on the mat. Even so, don’t stop training for a month because you have sprained your little toe – strap it up and get back in there.

Well, I hope that some of these points will help you to better understand what I mean by Training Smart.
Best wishes,


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