The BJJ Journal Of Champions (FREE TEMPLATE)

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bjj journal

How do world champions like Gordon Ryan use a BJJ journal to get better at jiu-jitsu?

As an early blue belt, I began to feel the “blue belt blues.”

I was consistent in my training, going to the gym 4-5 times per week.

But I felt as though my “mental game” was missing something. I was showing up to class and mindlessly rolling, expecting to see massive improvements.

That didn’t happen. And I felt stuck in my progress.

To break out of my plateau, I decided to start watching BJJ instructionals (instead of random technique videos on YouTube).

I started with Gordon Ryan‘s instructional The Sport Of Kings: High-Performance Mindset For Grappling.

In this instructional, he talks about how to get better in the shortest amount of time possible: through specific training.

Based on Gordon Ryan’s mindset and training schedule, I’ve created a BJJ journal that helps you structure, apply, and review your specific training.

And it will help you bust through plateaus, improve your jiu-jitsu, and increase how much of fun you have on the mats.

Let’s dive in.

“Don’t listen to what people say. Watch what the best people do.”
John Danaher

The BJJ Journal Of Champions: Quick Links

Why Keeping A BJJ Journal Will Make You Better At Jiu-Jitsu Faster

Before we get into my BJJ journal template, it’s important to describe the benefits of writing and journaling.

Ultimately, writing in your BJJ journal will make you better at jiu-jitsu.

Here’s why.

Ever felt like you can’t remember the techniques you learn in class or from an instructional? Expressive writing can increase working memory capacity. By keeping a BJJ journal, you’ll be able to retain much more of what you learn.

Ever felt just bummed out about your training — or life in general? Writing about your goals will literally make you feel happier and more satisfied with your life. By keeping a BJJ journal, you’ll feel better about training.

Losing sleep over and upcoming jiu-jitsu competition? Writing to increase your working memory capacity and writing about how you’ll achieve your goals can help decrease your anxiety. By keeping a BJJ journal and writing about what you’re learning — as well as your particular goals for the competition and how you’ll achieve them — you won’t feel as nervous, and likely perform better.

Ever felt like you’re just not having fun while training anymore? Gordon Ryan says that with goals and specific training, jiu-jitsu is just more fun. Instead of mindlessly rolling, you create little “mini-games” where you’re trying to hit specific moves. As you hit those specific moves, you’ll be able to see tangible improvements in your game. Seeing improvement towards your goals makes jiu-jitsu more fun.

Simply “imagining” yourself getting better at jiu-jitsu (or going to class and mindlessly rolling) won’t cut it. In a study by Pham & Taylor, they asked 1 group of university students to simply imagine the goal of doing well on a midterm. They asked the other group to focus on imaging the details of the process required to attain a good mark. The latter group performed significantly better on the test. I’d imagine this same concept carries over to BJJ.

Without goals, it’s difficult to feel hope, engagement, and interest. A BJJ journal will help you determine your specific goals — and then help you stick to them.

Next, we’ll get into my BJJ journal template that will make all of this as easy as possible for you.

BJJ Journal Template

My BJJ journal template is based on Gordon Ryan’s “mindset” instructional.

This is how Gordon Ryan himself organizes and structures his training. Craig Jones also uses a similar “specific training” approach to BJJ.

And it’s structured to help you get better at jiu-jitsu in the shortest amount of time possible.

Yearly (Long-Term Goals)

Where do I see myself 5 years from now?

 

What do I want to learn over the next 12 months?

 

Describe the improvements you’ll see in your game 1 year from now.

 

Quarterly (Short-Term Goals)

What areas of my game does my instructor want me to work on this quarter?

 

What positions or techniques do I feel weak in?

 

What instructional(s) will I watch this quarter?

 

Weekly

What specific area of my game do I want to focus on this week?

 

Daily

Specific Training: “Today, I’m going to X.”

 

Success

 

Failures

 

Questions/Notes For Next Class

 

Feel free to copy and paste my BJJ journal template and use it for yourself.

In the next section, I’ll explain each section of the BJJ journal template, and show you an example of how I’ve used it myself.

BJJ Journal Template: Explanation & Examples

Now, I’ll break down my BJJ journal template, explaining why it works and showing you real examples.

Yearly (Long-Term Goals)

Where do I see myself 5 years from now?

  • Explanation: Here, you’ll write about your long-term goals — where you see yourself in the sport of BJJ 5 years from now. Whether you’re a competitor or a hobbyist, write down what you’d like to accomplish in the sport.
  • Example: 5 years from now, I’m a brown belt, training 4 times per week. I’m teaching classes part-time and also teaching private lessons. I have a strong, foundation-based game and I’m competitive with the black belts in my school.

What do I want to learn over the next 12 months? Describe the improvements you’ll see in your game 1 year from now.

  • Explanation: Here, you’ll write about your goals over the next year. You’ll write about the broader jiu-jitsu concepts or positions you’d like to get better at.
  • Example: Over the next 12 months, I’m going to focus on…
    • Single Leg X: entries, sweeps, and submissions
    • Grip Fighting: winning grips and denying my opponents grips
    • Pin & Submission Escapes: minimizing my opponent’s ability to pin or submit me

Quarterly (Short-Term Goals)

What areas of my game does my instructor want me to work on this quarter?

  • Explanation: Your instructor knows your game better than anyone else besides you. Ask your instructor what they want you to work on over the next 3 months of training, and write that down.
  • Example: Over the next 3 months, my instructor wants me to work on…
    • Guard retention
    • Single Leg X entries
    • Bottom half guard sweeps

What positions or techniques do I feel weak in?

  • Explanation: Think about the positions you feel weak in; where your game is underdeveloped and where you’d like to improve. Or, perhaps it’s a position where you just don’t have many moves. Write those down.
  • Example: Here are the positions/techniques where I’m weaker than usual:
    • X guard
    • Bottom half guard
    • Back escapes

What instructional(s) will I watch this quarter?

Weekly

What specific area of my game do I want to focus on this week?

  • Explanation: At the start of each week, write down the specific area of your game that you’d like to focus on. Think about what you’re learning in class or the instructional you’re watching. Or, review your failures and notes from last week.
  • Example: This week I’ll be focusing specifically on starting in seated butterfly guard, entering into single leg X guard, and then sweeping my opponent.

Daily

Specific Training: “Today, I’m going to X.”

  • Explanation: Here, you’ll write about the specific move you’re going to pull off while rolling. This is specific training.
  • Example: Today, I’m going to start in seated butterfly guard, grab a 2-on-1 grip, get into single leg X, and sweep my opponent.

Success

  • Explanation: Here, you’ll write about your successes for the move you planned to hit.
  • Example: I was able to sweep 1 blue belt and 3 white belts with the single leg X sweep.

Failures

  • Explanation: Here, you’ll write about your failures for the move you planned to hit.
  • Example: I was able to get into single leg X against a brown belt, but they passed my guard.

Questions/Notes For Next Class

  • Explanation: Here, you’ll write down any questions or notes you’d like to take into your next class.
  • Example: I asked my instructor how to defend against the guard pass from single leg X. He said to ensure that my hips are high, connecting my knee to my ankle to “close the circuit,” to get my opponent’s foot off the ground quickly. That will help me get the sweep right away, which is important — you don’t want to be hanging around in single-leg X guard.

BJJ Journal: Conclusion

Every serious jiu-jitsu athlete should keep a BJJ journal.

It helps you commit to specific training — and specific training, according to Gordon Ryan, is the best way to go further faster.

And in this article, I’ve given you my best attempt at a BJJ journal to make your specific training as easy and fun as possible.

Do you keep a BJJ journal? What does yours look like?

Leave a comment in the section below.

And if you have any suggestions for how I can improve my BJJ journal template, I’m all ears!


tsavo neal bjjequipment.com

Tsavo Neal

Tsavo is the founder of BJJ Equipment and BJJ blue belt who started training in 2019. He’s a passionate hobbyist and BJJ gear/equipment aficionado who wanted to share his favorite pickups with other jiujiteiros. He launched BJJ Equipment in 2022 to make it easy for jiu-jitsu practitioners to find the best BJJ gear so they look, feel, and perform at their best on the mats.

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