Tips: Live.Die.Repeat. (Repost)

In 2014 the Tom Cruise movie “Edge of Tomorrow” was released. The movie had the tag line of, Live. Die. Repeat. At the time I was either a White or Blue belt under Jeff Baldwin at Rebellion Academy. I remember during a day of training, Jeff was discussing the philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu and at some point the movie came up. I remember him pointing out that the movie was actually a great representation of what the process of Jiu-Jitsu is like.

If you haven’t watched the movie, it takes place in the future. Cruise plays a character that wakes up on a military base, lives out the subsequent day or days then dies. He wakes up back on the military base with the memories of what happen, and then lives out the same exact day, ultimately dying again. As the movie progresses, he makes decisions that allow him to move further and further into the movie. There are times that he purposely takes risks and or intentionally dies just to see where it’ll take him.

This is Jiu-Jitsu.

When students ask, “I thought I was doing the right thing, but you countered. What did I do wrong?” Often my response is, “You didn’t do anything wrong, I’ve just seen the movie more times than you have.”

What I mean by this is that I’ve played in many of these positions so much that I know the most likely responses, followed by the most likely counters to my counter. Like in the movie, I’ve died/failed more times than you have even attempted. With this in mind, the battle for progress in Jiu-Jitsu isn’t an arm’s race, where each of us stockpiles random techniques in order to beat the other. It’s actually about depth not breadth.

Depth vs Breadth

It is impossible for me to know every technique in Jiu-Jitsu. It’s equally impossible for me to get better at the art if I’m in the “technique arms race” mindset. There was a point where I used to worry about my training partners catching on to what I was doing. I felt that if they did, the technique wouldn’t be of any use to me, and that I would have to learn a whole new one to get the win.

Ultimately with this process, what happens is that I grow breadth of knowledge, I collect techniques and becoming just average at best at each of them.

Depth on the other hand is the difference between Floyd Mayweather’s mastery of Boxing versus that of Conor McGregor’s. It’s the difference between Ronda Rousey’s knowledge of armbars and their set ups versus her opponent’s ability to defend them.

Lets do a quick exercise. Picture a map of the United State, I’m sure you can point to the state you live in, followed by the county and city. Lets say the city that you live in is the technique that you’re trying to learn. You’re goal is to learn the lay out of the freeways, highways, major streets, side streets, and the alleys.

Now imagine if I dropped you off at work and told you to get home. You’ll instantly have your favorite route in mind, which gets you there in the quickest amount of time as possible. That’s your technique’s best case scenario.

Now, imagine if I told you that there were construction detours or a closed freeways for your favorite route home. Do you know the streets well enough to get to where you need to go?

Your route from start to finish in any given technique will eventually be filled with roadblocks, your job is to know the side streets well enough that you can get to your submission or sweep of choice.

Live. Die. Repeat.

This kind of depth only occurs when you stick with a technique even when it fails you, and believe me, it’s going to fail you at some point. You will need to fail multiples time, from different angles, with different body types, and against varying skill levels. Like a mad scientist, you will need to take physical or mental notes of what went wrong and what went right.

All these moments of failure are going to be priceless in the end, so during this period you should be laser focused and undeterred. You should almost be obsessed with the technique you’re studying.

For example, there was a point in time where all I was doing for months on end was passing, transitioning to North South, then working to finish the Kimura. About a year ago, I did something very similar but this time with the Arm Bar from Mount. As frustrating as the entire process was for me, it was both fascinating and rewarding when things finally starting clicking.

Conclusion

I’ve seen many practitioners go down the YouTube or Video Instructional rabbit hole, spending hundreds of hours and dollars searching for the next it technique. Stop wasting your time and money and start investing in a deeper understanding of the techniques you currently like and are good at. Pay attention to what is happening and ask your upper belts what you can do to negate what’s occurring and embrace depth.

Published by David Figueroa-Martinez

I'm a Gracie Humaita Black Belt Instructor out of San Diego. I've been training Jiu-Jitsu since 2011 and started teaching in 2017.

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