A big question I hear from a lot of submission grapplers is “How do I remember all the grappling moves I’m learning?”
Yep, it can feel overwhelming, can’t it?
Here’s my suggestions for dealing with it…
***ADMIN’S EDIT – Since writing this post, I have created the iGrapple™ Online Grappling Training Tool. It is BY FAR the most effective method to help you (possibly even FORCE you) to remember your moves. It’s “grappling learning on steroids.”
If you have trouble recalling your grappling moves quickly, don’t waste any more precious time. Watch the demo video on and get it now. If you disagree with me after buying it, you can get a refund.***
Suggestion # 1
Decide if you really even want or need to learn advanced, complicated grappling moves. If your goal is purely self-defense, it’s almost certain you’re never going to use advanced techniques. So why not just focus on strong basic tactics that work, ESPECIALLY when an opponent is striking you.
That should limit you to a pretty manageable number of submission moves you need to train. Then, just focus on being awesome with those basics. Instead of adding more grappling moves, explore further into those basics, finding more ways to set them up and to make them work even better.
You’ll notice that most of the mma fights you see on TV are finished with basic grappling moves. The odds of you getting into a situation where you need to defend yourself is fairly slim. The odds that your attacker is an advanced grappler is even slimmer. You probably have more chance of winning the Powerball Lotto today than using a highly advanced level grappling move on the street.
Another way of seeing this is… the more time you put into advanced grappling moves, the less time you put into your basics. If you only have a limited amount of time, it might be to your benefit just to go this route.
Suggestion # 2
O.K., so you want to be a living encyclopedia of grappling moves. The secret here is to be organized in your approach.
List your techniques in groups (mount on top, mount on bottom, guard, inside the guard, etc.), giving each a short name. (The iGrapple™ does this for you for over a thousand moves) By writing your tactics down, you can simply look at your list and rep them out. Today, mount techniques… tomorrow, guard techniques… the next day, ½ guard… you get the idea.
You can make this even better by putting a check box by every grappling move, then checking it off after you’ve reached a really high number of reps (so many that you NEVER forget it.. 500 for example).
If you have a Submission Master grappling dummy, you can even be more effective with this. Break your list into grappling moves that you can train effectively on the dummy and moves that must be trained with a live partner. Then, when you don’t have a partner, you know which ones to train… and when you do have a partner, don’t spend your time on the ones you can rep out on your dummy. This will help maximize your training time in the process.
***TIP*** Be sure to write down every grappling move you learn WHEN you learn it (using just a short name for the move).
Otherwise, you’re going to forget more than you remember, and you’ll have to rely on your instructor to re-teach you…or that grappling move may just be gone for good.
(Again, this problem is GONE when you use the iGrapple™. You can find and re-learn or review any move as fast as a couple mouse clicks.)
Suggestion # 3
Mental practice / Visualization. I’ve preached this to all my students and training partners for years. It’s probably the easiest way to amass a large repertoire of tactics.
(Using the iGrapple™, you click on a move, watch a short 30 second clip, do some visualized reps, then move onto the next move, working your way SYSTEMATICALLY through any position you want to master. You won’t believe it until you try it.)
There’s plenty of science behind it, but simply put… just picture yourself doing the grappling move repeatedly, whenever you have any free time. Don’t make a big deal about it… just do it at the bank, lying in bed, during TV commercial breaks. You’ll be blown away by how much you can memorize and recall using this method. If you want some more info on it, you can check out this article I wrote on visualization and grappling training.
Keep this one word constantly in mind… REPETITIONS. Remember, your goal isn’t so much to be able to “remember” grappling moves (unless your teaching), but to have quick physical recall… to be able to come out with the move instantly, without thought.
The only way to do that is by creating great muscle memory. And how do you build muscle memory? High repetitions. Period. There’s no real mystery to this concept, but a surprisingly large number of martial artists approach training with an “I’ll do a few of these… then a few of these…” approach.
Instead, take the approach of “I’ll do 50 of these, then 50 of these…”
***TIP*** If you feel it’s going to take too long to do 50 (or be too exhausting), at least do the initial part of the move. That will give you the “fast start” reaction you want. You can then visualize the rest of the move 50 times in just a few minutes.
Suggestion # 5
This one’s an incredible no-brainer. Obviously, if you’re having trouble remembering grappling moves… you are being shown moves faster than you have the ability absorb them. The answer is simple… jot them down, then learn them later when you are ready. Training is life-long… no one says you have to master the move today. The important part here is to make sure you’ve got it somewhere so you can refer to it when the time is right.
(If you use the iGrapple™, that move is most likely already stored there for when “the time is right.”)
These are the methods I’ve used with myself and my students over the years to get a pretty decent repertoire of both grappling and striking tactics. If you have other suggestions for remembering your grappling moves, please share them with us.