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A Simple 7-Step Program For Developing Any Skill
“The Way is in training.” — Miyamoto Musashi
In 2021, I wrote an ebook on learning Jiu-Jitsu faster.
The ebook was downloaded more than 1000 times over just a few months, it was well received, and most importantly to me, it helped me understand how I learn Jiu-Jitsu best. Manualizing my training methods forced me to evaluate and refine the methodology for learning the skills I’m trying to learn.
The methods in the book also work. I used them to have the most successful year in my Jiu-Jitsu career in 2022. I went from being relatively unknown to being ranked in the top 15 in the world in my weight class.
The biggest problem with 15 Ways to Learn Jiu-Jitsu Faster, however, was always that’s been focused on nothing but Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It didn’t help people who didn’t do Jiu-Jitsu…
In this article, I’ve tried to take the 15 training methods that I use in improving Jiu-Jitsu, cut out all the fluff, and refine them so that they can be applied to any other skill.
Here’s the 7-step program I’ve been using to develop my Jiu-Jitsu abilities, my teaching, and my writing over the last 12 months.
Identify a current weakness.
When I was 23, I started competing in professional Jiu-Jitsu events.
Professional Jiu-Jitsu events have different rules than amateur ones, they have more pressure, and they’re a bit of a different experience altogether. Part of that experience is realizing that the “professional” in “professional BJJ” is going to stay in quotes for quite some time.
Either way, the biggest problem I had was that though I was a decent Jiu-Jitsu athlete when I started competing at a high level, I had no idea how to win the specific events I was competing in.
I had zero specific knowledge.
The weakness that needed to be addressed was that I needed to transform my current skillset to be applied to my new goal of doing well in no-gi (specifically ADCC rules and submission only) competitions. This required me to rethink everything I knew about Jiu-Jitsu and competition.
Set highly specific goals.
“I want to be good at Jiu-Jitsu” is too broad.
“I want to win my Jiu-Jitsu competition” is better, but even this still needs work.
I went for “I want to be world-class at leg locks”.
“I want to be a writer” is again too broad. I went for “I want to be a prolific digital writer”. This has been my goal for the last 12 months.
Keep simplifying your goals until the first step you need to take is obvious.
Consult someone with more experience than you.
The moment finished college, I started working on building an online business so I could pay for things without getting “a real job”.
Then, I started planning trips to train at different world-class Jiu-Jitsu gyms all over the United States.
I sought out instructors and athletes who were (and still are) far more accomplished than me, and I put myself in their training rooms.
Doing this exposed gaping holes in my skills, my mindset, and my thought processes. Over time, I stole lessons from each of these trips and implemented them in my training at home.
Put in the time.
There’s no way around this.
If you want to do something well, you must put in an absurd amount of work.
Some people say 10,000 hours, but that’s really just a guideline. You have to work hard to improve at something. There’s no hack that makes master easier.
Test yourself with 4–8 week “sprints”.
This sprint, I did one such “sprint”.
Over the course of 8 weeks from March to April, I did 3 training trips, 4 seminars, and 3 competitions. I also did a writing cohort in April to work on my writing. business.
The goal here is total immersion in the things you’re most focused on.
These sprints are exhausting and challenging both physically and mentally, but the ROI I get from them is ridiculous. I usually have 2–3 of them in me in a year.
Test your knowledge in a competitive setting.
For Jiu-Jitsu, this is pretty direct and easy to get.
First, test a move in the gym on a resisting (competitive) partner, and slowly work your way up to doing something on opponents in competition. The goal is to make correct technical reactions unconscious.
In writing, I test ideas as short tweets or subtly in conversations with friends and eventually make them into long-form essays on my Medium blog or my newsletter.
If everyone I tell thinks an idea is stupid, this early test is a very good time to either revise it or scrap it.
Once you feel confident in your ability to do something, try to teach it to someone else.
This, in a way, immortalizes your lessons, which is kind of cool.
The real benefit is that teaching helps you see your flaws and break down your unconscious actions logically.
Learning is a never-ending pursuit. I always think it’s a red flag when someone is convinced that they’re “good” and they don’t need to learn anymore.
This applies to Jiu-Jitsu, writing, and everything else you try to do. You must have an obnoxiously persistent growth mindset.
I’m not a performance coach, but I have been my own performance coach in Jiu-Jitsu for the last 8+ years.
Of the time I’ve been training, the period with the most growth was when I started consciously using the method I explained above. That started in late 2021.
In order to develop a skill, you must refine your work over and over again — you must solve problems over and over again. You must do this without becoming too emotional and developing hubris or crippling self-doubt.
Hopefully, this 7-step program will give you something to go back to when you’re feeling stuck.
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