Stick around Jiu-Jitsu long enough and you’ll eventually hear the quote, “Show up! That’s the key to getting better at Jiu-Jitsu. Just more Jiu-Jitsu.”

Not too long ago, however, a jiu-jitsu friend of mine wrote me a PM and said,

“Hey Bill , just curious, is showing up really the hardest part. People always say that. Consistency is the key but I tell you, sometimes I wonder if I will ever get better or past this.”

Though he’s not a student at my academy, I know this man trains an awful lot. He really loves jiu-jitsu and, clearly, was very frustrated at the time of writing this to me. I would argue that many who feel the same as him would have quit that very moment. But it does beg the question, is “showing up” really the key? Or is it something deeper and more meaningful? Here are 10 “Must Do” items to help you improve your jiu-jitsu skill AND eventually earn a Black Belt/Coral Belt/Red Belt ect…

1. Show up! Yes, showing up is super important. Does that mean you have to show up to every class? No. But without actually going to class, you won’t be giving yourself the opportunities to get better at Jiu-Jitsu.

2. Pay Attention. Jiu-Jitsu instruction can sometimes contain alot of exposition. In other words, it can be boring. But paying attention to the details, the little details, will go a long way to improving. I remember watching Master Pedro Sauer teaching a seminar. He demonstrates a move several times and I always attempt to watch his every movement, down to the way he places his toes. All those details come together to make a more complete understanding of the movements.

3. Shut up and train. Drill the techniques as many times as humanly possible with correct form. Drilling will help cement the techniques in your brain. Without drilling new concepts, techniques, and movements, most people will not be able to utilize the skill. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are rare and far between. Just assume you’re not an exception and drill.

4. Have a purpose. When you start a roll, have a goal in mind (even better…write it down). Attempt to achieve that goal every time your train. Make mental (or physical) notes of what goes right and what goes wrong when you try your techniques. Pay attention to how an opponent stops your move. It’s ok to roll without a purpose or goal sometimes, but most of your time should be spent with a specific goal in mind.

5. Ask Questions. Now that you know what the opponents are doing to stop your moves, ask how to fix the problem. Maybe they are putting their weight here or there. Maybe the right answer is to go to a different move, maybe you will find out you don’t understand the technique properly. Who knows? Nobody…til you ask about it. This is the best way to improve because it will bring answers that directly impact what you are working at that time.

6. Teach someone else. You may feel you are too low a rank to be teaching people, and that may be true. But teaching a move, or just passing on your understanding of it to someone who knows less than you, will help to cement the move into your muscle memory. It’s a very good way to start to improve.

7. Think about the problem you’re having as you drift off to sleep. If it’s a technique, drill it several times in your head as you lie in bed. If it’s just a situation, mentally drill the situation, attempting several methods to defeat it. This is a great way to help remember moves and come up with answers to your problems.

8. Start taking and studying notes. Notes can be used many many ways. You could take notes that just relate to specific problems you have. You could take notes on everything you learn. There are several ways to do it. But some people live by their notes and feel it’s the best way to learn. Give it a try if you don’t do it already.

9. Define what success is for you. It’s important to understand your own expectations. Write them down. Perhaps success is simply lasting several minutes without being submitted. Maybe it means hitting a certain sweep. Maybe it means earning your blue belt in X amount of time. Whatever it is, define it so you can measure your result.

10. Redefine Failure. This is a personal favorite of mine and is tantamount to success in everything. You wanted to earn blue belt in 1.5 years. Here you are after 2 years and you’re wearing a 4 stripe white belt. What do you do? Quit? You failed, right? People who succeed redefine their failures. Look at what you HAVE learned in that time, write down a new goal and redouble your efforts to achieve it. The most successful people on Earth turn failures into opportunities. Learn to do the same.

So there you have it!

Is showing up really the key? I think it is in so much as you can’t do the rest of these things without showing up first.

Now it’s time to stop reading, get off the phone and go train!

See you on the mats!

Bill Jones is the head instructor and president of Top Level Martial Arts in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. He has been training martial arts since 1985 and holds several black belt ranks, including a Black Belt under Master Pedro Sauer. If you would like to learn more, contact bill at

Check out our podcast here:

Request More Information


Let us e-mail you this Free Report