Tracking progress in BJJ can be a daunting task. While there is no single best method to track progress in BJJ, there are a few things you can do to help gauge your overall growth in Jiu Jitsu.
You are probably aware that BJJ takes years to get good and decades to master. With the prospect of spending this much time before seeing measurable results, its easy to get disheartened and feel like you are not improving. This is particularly true given the length of time you will spend at each belt level in BJJ.
You might be tempted to keep ‘score’ against your training partners based on who tapped who, or even track your match and competition results.
While a little friendly competition or even a competitive tournament record is not a bad thing, these are far from the best ways to consistently measure progress.
The following are five ways you can track progress in BJJ without getting disheartened or bogged down in mindless tap-for-tap obsessions.
#1 – Track how many classes you have attended
BJJ is not a linear path and the specific number of classes you attend is only worth so much
Nevertheless, counting the number of classes you have attended is still a good way to keep track of your overall BJJ progress.
At the end of the day, you only have so much control over who you tap, how well you do in competition, and whether a given move ‘clicks.’
The only thing you really have control over is whether you show up to class.
In BJJ, class attendance leads to improvement.
Even if it does not feel like you are improving, if you check your notes and see you attended 16 classes in the last month, you can rest assured you are doing the best you can and at some point, will reap the rewards.
#2 – Keep a journal of the moves you drill
Keeping a training journal where you document, detail, and even reflect on the move of the day is an excellent way to look back and see the work you have put in.
Furthermore, the act of sitting down and thinking about what you did in class goes a long way towards hammering it into your memory when compared to leaving the dojo and forgetting about BJJ.
If you look back at the moves you drilled in the past few weeks, months, or even years, you will have a greater insight into the overall effect of your training.
#3 – Keep track of the moves you hit
Keeping a tally of who you did or did not submit does not necessarily indicate you are improving.
For example, a ranking student might be trying out a new position or technique they have not yet mastered.
Given that they are essentially a ‘white belt’ when performing that technique, stopping or countering the move does not necessarily indicate that you ‘beat them.’
However, if you do tap someone out, the move you used to tap them out matters a lot more than the fact that you got the submission.
Regardless of whether they are a white belt spazzing out or a purple belt experimenting with a new position, you must get at least a few details correct to get the tap.
Even if it is a light flow roll, no one with any time on the mat is going to tap to a submission that is flat out wrong.
The fact that you tapped them is not worth obsessing over
However, if you are consistently tapping different people with a certain submission, you are most likely improving your details on the specific move.
Additionally, if you pull off a new submission for the first time, that is also a good indicator that things are moving in the right direction.
#4 – Track the number of BJJ competitions you do
Competing is hands down one of the best ways to speed up progress in BJJ.
While you cannot control the outcome entirely, showing up and throwing down in the competitive setting is one of the greatest learning opportunities available.
You will find holes in your game that might not be exposed during your typical rolls in class.
You will learn to overcome nerves, fear of failure, and other insecurities that hold back growth.
Additionally, if you know you have a tournament coming up, you are far less likely to skip out on practice than if there is nothing on the line.
As such, keeping a tally of the number of competitions you do and an overall reflection on what went well and what demands improvement can give you excellent insight into your overall progress in BJJ.
#5 – Establish benchmark rolls
Although we have been emphasizing that you should not keep tallies of your in-class submissions, there is one possible exception when it comes to the best way to track progress in BJJ.
Training partners of similar size and strength provide excellent ‘benchmark rolls’ to gauge your progress.
While you cannot use an individual practice to judge progress, if you assess over time how you do against a training partner, you will get more insight into your overall improvement.
If both of you are consistently training, then getting into consistent stalemates is a sign that both of you are improving.
If your benchmark roll took some time off and you do well against them when they return, it shows improvement.
On the flip side, if you are off the mats for a period and your partner is not, then you might get immediate feedback that shows you the negative effect of not training. In this case, the inverse would suggest that attending class does, in fact, make your BJJ better.
The bottom line on tracking BJJ progress
With the complexity and depth of skill, trying to track progress in BJJ is a daunting task.
By far the most important metric is class attendance.
Furthermore, class attendance is the only thing you really have control over when it comes to tracking your progress in BJJ.
Other than that, keeping track of the moves you drill, techniques you pull off, and competition attendance are just a few additional ways to track progress.
Finally, anything you do that keeps you motivated to train and attend class will help you improve in BJJ.
The bottom line is that showing up and putting in the effort is the only tried-and-true method for getting better at Jiu Jitsu.