You don’t always have a partner to train with. It’s a fact of life. You go on vacation, your buddy stands you up, or you just couldn’t make it to class because of that last minute work meeting… But when you’re by yourself, the ‘invisible bad guy’ can have a huge impact on how useful your real-life training partners are when they do happen to be around.
In Jiu Jitsu we practice techniques until they are second nature, because only a reflexive movement will protect you in a real fight. If you have to think about what to do next, it’s already to late. One of the biggest pieces to building reflex is to ingrain the muscle memory through repetition. For lots of techniques, you don’t physically require a bad guy in order to actually perform the technique (think Trap and Roll Escape for example). Through visualization and drilling, you can make up a lot of the ground you may be losing when there aren’t any training partners in sight, or maybe even picking up a little edge when everybody else is off the mat.
Now of course we can’t replace the real partners 100% with the ‘invisible bad guy’, that’s not what I’m saying (yikes!). BUT, if you have to choose between watching TV tonight and doing 0 repetitions of anything Jiu Jitsu related vs. doing some Trap and Rolls on Mr. Invisible during commercials, well your Trap and Rolls might just be a little bit sharper the next time you go on the mat if you opt for a little solo practice.
And that doesn’t just work for specific techniques- there are several basic movements that show up in BJJ over and over again which are core building blocks. It’s literally impossible to practice them to many times! For example, the bridge, shrimp, and stand in base can be done any time, anywhere, and WILL have a positive impact on your Jiu Jitsu abilities! AND, often times if you can do techniques fairly well without the benefit of having a bad guy to pull/push/rotate against, it’s much easier to do when you DO have a bad guy.
Below are a list of movements and techniques that are prime candidates for solo drilling when you’re all by your lonesome:
- Bridges and shrimps (Trap and Roll, Elbow Escape)
- Shoulder Getup (Take the Back from Guard)
- Break Falls (Pull Guard)
- Triangle Choke from Guard
- Elevator Sweep from Guard
- Mount Controls (Anchor and Base)
- Punch Block Series (All Stages)
- Rear Naked Choke
- Your favorite technique
- Your WORST technique
Especially if you have a Gracie University online account (wink, wink), there’s no excuse for not fitting in a little extra BJJ in here or there when you can’t make it to the mat!