Travelling across Asia and Europe for the past seven months and constantly switching gyms has been amazing. It’s allowed me to experience tons of variations of high-level techniques, spar with amazing training partners and even pick up a few secret moves. But, it’s also destroyed my fundamentals.
I practiced acrobatic De La Riva to X-guard sweeps in Bangkok for a week, switched to drilling single leg variations in Belgrade, and then tested my rubber guard at an MMA gym in Prague. I’ve added tons of new tricks to my bag. But over the past few months, I started to notice I was having more trouble than normal in sparring. I was screwing up basic combo setups, pulling off a simple hip heist and even escaping white belts’ loose side control. All my cool new techniques are useless If I can’t get in position to use them or even keep myself from being tapped every 30 seconds.
Working with White Belts at Twisted Jiu Jitsu
I needed to settle down, find a good gym with dedicated training partners and work the essentials. Luckily, I found Twisted Jiu Jitsu in Sofia, Bulgaria. Their fundamentals noon class fit perfectly with my work schedule and I came in 2-3 times a week for all of September. Back home, I’d consider that slacking but it was much more regimented than my past few months of catching flights, partying and getting over injuries.
I was usually surrounded by white belts and occasionally a blue or two would show up. It was exactly what I needed.
Working with new BJJ athletes let me focus on the things like hip control, creating the space I need to move and refresh my simple sweeps and submissions. Also, as every higher belt knows, training with and teaching a less-experienced partner really helps you focus on the small things that make simple techniques effective even against experienced grapplers.
Easy taps during sparring was a confidence booster for sure, but even more helpful was identifying the mistakes they were making and realizing I was doing the same thing. These rolls really helped me tighten up my game to were it used to be before all this travel.
At the end of the month, I felt much more secure in my abilities and felt safe reverting to more basic techniques when they were needed. Sometimes you just need to stop trying to learn Youtube worthy moves and just get back to the foundation those techniques are built on top of.