The importance of drilling, explained by black-belt Dennis Lima

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Dennis ia a Jiu-Jitsu black belt. Photo: Personal archives

For Prof. Dennis Lima, there is a simple rule for us to learn the movements of Jiu-Jitsu: to repeat until we have each position on automatic. But Dennis says that this was not exactly how older generations viewed this way to learn Jiu-Jitsu and, mainly, warm up the body before a normal class.

“I come from the old school,” he said in a recent interview. “I started in Jiu-Jitsu in 1997 and at that time there wasn’t this business of drilling. It was a heavy warm-up, a few minutes of practicing positions and striking… But Jiu-Jitsu has evolved, and anyone who says that they only follow the old-school standard is certainly behind the times.”

He added: “With the evolution of Jiu-Jitsu came training with drills, which in summary are repetitions of positions in a given specific practice, which, most of the time, when we include them in the lesson plan, we save time. Instead of wasting 30 minutes with heavy warm-up, we do 30 minutes of drilling, which generates physical exhaustion as much as exercise training. Since I work with competition athletes, extra training is necessary, and after I implemented drill training in my gym, I noticed a faster evolution of the athletes. Nowadays most classes are done through solo drills or in pairs.”

But maybe you’re not the kind of BJJ student who’s interested in competing at all, so drilling can’t offer you much, right? Not so. “Just as drill training can speed up the athlete’s evolution process, the lack of it can slow it down,” Dennis said. “Think with me: Why would I spend 30 or 40 minutes of my warm-up running, doing push-ups and crunches, if I can start the warm-up with simple and dynamic positions that I generally use in my game? I won’t say that the lack of drilling will hinder the student’s evolution, not least because in my day it was different and my Jiu-Jitsu did develop; but nowadays, when competitiveness in tournaments is eminent, it is clear that we must follow the evolution of our sport and practice lots of drills. Warm up with a drill, and this will help in the evolution of the technical side, and try to do the physical part at a separate time.”

Check out the video below to find 22 drills to develop your technique immediately.

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