For the past 2 months I’ve changed how I roll. For the first year or so of rolling I went at it like most people do. I’d look at it as a match and just try to not get submitted while trying to submit the other guy. I didn’t care if I submitted my partner by kimura, triangle, omoplata or arm bar. All I really cared about was that I was getting submissions.
There were periods where this wouldn’t be true. For example, after my first tournament, I spent about a week or two trying to work on not letting someone pass my guard. Or there would be times where I’d focus only on not getting arm barred. But for the most part, I’d spar without any real plan or objective. I was just having fun in sparring class.
But a couple months ago I was talking with a teammate and he mentioned when he started out he focused only on one move. Trying to figure out how to set it up from any position, how to finish it etc. He encouraged me to do the same thing. So after Thanksgiving I started focusing only on arm bars. There have been a couple time that I would see a choke from side control, but I’d pass it by and look for the arm. Doing this has helped me in a couple ways.
First, it made me look at how to get out of certain positions. If I’m trying to arm bar someone and I’m in someone else’s mount, I have to get out of mount to be able to do anything. That’s obvious, as there are no submissions from mount bottom, but it’s something that I didn’t always think about. I’d think about “I have to get out of here” but I never had a reason other than that being mounted isn’t a good thing. But when I started thinking “I want to find an arm bar” I had a goal for escaping mount more than just getting out of there.
Secondly, it’s helped focus my time outside of training. Since I’ve started BJJ, I’ve enjoyed watching BJJ videos on YouTube. But I never really knew what to look up. I’d typically end up watching videos of top black belts competing. But I never really knew what techniques to look up. But now that I’m focusing on arm bars, I can look up things specific to that. For example, I’ve struggled some with an arm bar from mount. I could get to the position and have their arm, but they could grab their arm and prevent me from extending it. This week, I watched a video of specific ways to break their grip and finish the arm bar.
Focusing on a single move for the past two months has helped me get a better, deeper understanding of the move than I did in the first 12 months of training.