“The moment you put a deadline on your dream, it becomes a goal – Harsha Bhogle. 

Have you asked yourself, what do you want to get out of your training this year? 

It’s one thing to show up to class and go through the movements, but if you really want to improve and get the most out of Jiu Jitsu, the act of goal setting and planning can take you further. 

The dynamic art of Jiu Jitsu requires thinking, deliberate practice, planning and strategy. It’s one thing to show up to class and go through the movements, but if you really want to get the most of your Jiu Jitsu, you need to act with intention. 

Just like anything in life, in order to see consistent progression, you need a game plan. 

Goal setting to go further in Jiu Jitsu

It all starts with having a goal. 

Where do you want to be by the end of the year? 

Goal setting is a natural part of martial arts learning, but often they are outcome goals rather than process goals. Be cautious of the goals you set because the wrong goals can set you on a ego-centric path. Examples of ego-centric goals are: Winning a competition, submitting a specific training partner, or getting a belt in a certain timeframe. 

These types of goals puts an emphasis on winning rather than learning, which in turn causes hesitation of experimenting and exploring new positions due to the fear of losing. This mindset is suited for competition day, but in a class setting, it can hold your Jiu Jitsu back and make it unnecessarily stressful. 

Instead, process oriented goals focus on HOW you’re actually going to achieve the desired outcome, and what you can control. For example…

“For the next 30 days I’m going to spend 15 minutes before class drilling open guard passes.”


“I am going to spend 30 minutes every night to study and take notes on Jiu Jitsu matches”


“For the next 2 months I’m going to focus on playing open guard into leg attacks”. 

You can see that these examples are super-specific, granular, and directly actionable. By following the SMART goal setting framework, you’ll bring more intention to your training and see better progress in the long run. 

Specific – make them as precise and detailed as possible.

The goal cannot be too broad. “I want to get more submissions in 2 months” is too vague and lacks specificity on what exactly you want to work on in your game. “I want to improve my half guard attacks for omoplatas and triangles”. 

Measureable – have a way to quantify or rate your current position so you can determine the amount of improvement required. 

Since BJJ is a fluid sport with many variables and factors that affect your performance, it’s difficult to measure results in a quantifiable way like in track running or weight lifting. Instead, measure your progress in a qualitative sense – taking notice of how you feel, how you’re moving and the efficiency if your transitions. 

Action oriented – focus on what you’re going to do today to create the future you want for tomorrow. 

Don’t get too caught up in trying to reach the end goal and forget to enjoy the process of learning, playing and making small wins. 

Focus on one aspect of your game and stick with it for period of time. Be persistent and patient and things will begin to come together. Just like how you don’t see daily results when dieting to lose weight, after a few weeks of consistent dieting and exercise, you will notice the results. The same idea applies to training Jiu Jitsu. 

Realistic – realistic goals that are attainable 

The key is to set challenging, yet realistically attainable goals. We all have different schedules, gym memberships and access to facilities, so when you’re goal setting, consider your individual circumstance as well as the metric associated such as deadline, reps and hours spent practicing. 

Timely – give your goal a deadline. In doing so, you’re more likely to stay motivated and accountable. 

A goal is a dream with a deadline. Incorporate a target date for completion to keep yourself accountable

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