The Consequences of Building Bad Habits During Drilling

I am currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. The book is great for anyone who is looking to change their habits through small actions. Last night when I was reading the book I came across the quote below about the problem with instant gratification and habit building. I wanted to look at the quote through the lens of Jiu-Jitsu training and share some insight into the importance of creating good habits no matter how hard they may seem.

“The consequences of bad habits are delayed while the rewards are immediate. “

James Clear in Atomic Habits

When we are first learning a new sweep, submission, or position there are several things that we know we should do but we choose not to because they are hard. For example, when we drill we sometimes leave out crucial aspects of a position because we are “just drilling”. I know personally, I have been guilty of this when drilling the back. I know that the best control has me pinned to my opponent’s back with my cheek near their cheek. Yet when I was first learning the back I did not go cheek to cheek. I would tell myself “It’s only a drill. In a live situaiton, I will go cheek to cheek.” The problem was when the live situation came up I didn’t go cheek to cheek. I had formed a bad habit that was now costing me my position.

Why did I allow this to happen? Well during my drilling I did not have to worry about my partner escaping and keeping my cheek next to their cheek was “hard”. I had an instant reward for my bad habit. It was only later on when I was rolling that I learned that my bad habit had a consequence. Instead of learning the position correctly the first time I had to now spend time breaking my bad habit and then learning the correct position. If I had just focused on building the proper habit in the first place think about how much better my back control would have been.

As you are drilling the moves in class I would encourage you to not just zombie drill your moves and go through the motions. Spend the time to do the move properly and build good habits. This is one of the reasons why we drill. Drilling helps build habits so when you are rolling you do not have to think about what you are doing. You can instead let your habits go on autopilot and take over. Remember that what may seem easy in the short term can ultimately cause you more frustration later on.

If you are interested in learning more about my training theory or anything else about no-gi jiu jitsu fill out my contact form to connect with me.

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