7 Easy Steps to Better Grappling

(A.K.A. “It’s Your Environment, Stupid!”)

Ok, this is one of my biggest secrets…

…for how a kinda-sorta LAZY guy like me has managed to consistently train martial arts for over 45 years. That’s long after most people have given up and moved on to less demanding pursuits, like couch surfing.

The truth is, it was easy. Or rather, I MADE it easy. How?

I understood this one thing…

You & I “Default” to Our Easiest Options

What I mean is that, when faced with a choice, our default behavior is to choose the easiest option.

Ever notice that, as you get older, you gradually start watching more & more TV at night, instead of going out for entertainment. Easier, isn’t it?

The reason is: Your actions are a result of your immediate environment.

And, when you keep ice cream in the fridge, you tend to eat it more often than if you had to go out for it, right?

If you keep your phone next to you all day, you’re going to check social media and email 10x’s more than if you kept your phone locked in your closet, in your car or in a dresser drawer, right?

And if you had a wrestling mat with a training partner just waiting for you 24/7 in the middle of your living room floor, you’d probably grapple a whole lot more, wouldn’t you?

You get the point. So, how do you use this to your advantage?

Fix Your Environment So It’s EASY To Train

If you INTENTIONALLY set up your surroundings so you “default” to the behavior you want to have, you’re far more likely to make the “default” choices that help you reach your goals with your grappling. And…

…if you intentionally REMOVE things from your surroundings that encourage “bad” default behavior, that puts your good default behaviors in overdrive.

Personally, I’ve done this in different forms most of my adult life. My friends think I’m highly disciplined, but they’re wrong… I just make everything so easy a lazy slug could do it.


  • I don’t allow ice cream, potato chips or other junk food in my house. And guess what? I never eat ice cream, potato chips or junk food. What a surprise!
  • Since the time I moved out of my parents house when I was in my early 20’s, I refused to live anywhere that I couldn’t hang a punching bag. Geez, I wonder why I was able to keep punching and kicking on a daily basis?
  • As soon as I started grappling, I went out and bought mats and gave them a permanent residence on the floor of my garage. And if I had found that I was too lazy to walk to the garage, I swear to God I would have moved them into my living room.
  • And can you guess why I first started training with a grappling dummy, which led to me selling the Submission Master? Yep, it was easier than calling someone to come over to train with me.

And when I realized that I was too lazy to spend the time & effort required to get any value from my huge collection of grappling DVD’s….

… I created a way to find the grappling techniques I needed in a few seconds by simply pulling my phone out of my pocket. (I’m talking about the iGrapple).

And get this…

…when I thought it was too much effort to open my browser and log in to a website to use the iGrapple, I recently turned it into an app that would automatically log me in with one click.

Are you seeing a pattern? Basically, I’ve been able to keep training for over 45 years simply because I know how damn LAZY I am!

So, here’s the 6 Steps you can take to make it exponentially easier to reach your goals with your grappling…

Step 1: Define your goal (i.e.Vision & Mission)

You’ve got to be SPECIFIC here. It’s not as obvious as it seems.

As I mentioned in a recent post, there’s a big difference between “I’m going to take some lessons” and ““Two years from now, I’m going to consistently have an 80% tap out rate on every purple belt in class”.

Create your VISION of where you want to be in the future. And then, write out your MISSION…

…the steps you’re going to take to reach that vision. For example your vision & mission could be: “To be the most committed grappler in my school by preparing before every class, staying late after class, and spending 2x as much on the mat than everyone else. “

Step 2: Evaluate & List Your Current Environment

I want you to literally write down the things that surround you, or are in your life on a daily basis, that could even remotely affect your goals in a positive or negative way.

Be ruthless. List things like:

  • Your phone (Facebook takes up time you could spend training or studying grappling, doesn’t it?)
  • Grappling mats
  • Your training gear
  • The food you’ve got in your refrigerator
  • Facebook app on your phone (takes up your time, doesn’t it?)
  • Your friends that call or text to “chit chat” about stupid stuff

You get the idea. Write it all down.

Step 3: List the Actions & Behaviors That Help You Reach Your Goals

Keep this simple and go for the obvious things that give you a big bang for your buck.

For example:

  • Doing reps of your techniques
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Having more time to train
  • Learning new techniques

As you get better and better at this, you can list even more subtle behaviors that can improve your grappling performance, like meditation or positive mental programming.

Step 4: Group Your List From Step 2 Into Positive or Negative

Look at the list of things in your environment (from Step 2) and classify them as either:

1 – Positive: they help you to take the positive actions & behaviours you listed in Step 3.

2 – Negative: they discourage and take you away from the positive actions & behaviors from Step 3.

If one of the Actions from Step 3 is to eat better, and you’ve got ice cream in the fridge, that’s clearly a negative.

If you’ve got a Submission Master or the iGrapple, those are positives.

Step 5: Get Rid Of (Or Hide) the Negatives

Spending time on Facebook that you could be training? Delete the app from your phone.

Getting notifications every 5 minutes when you receive a text or someone posts to your social media? Shut off notifications.

Better yet, put your phone away where you aren’t tempted to use it.

Got junk food in your house? Throw it out.

Step 6: Put the Positives on Steroids

Now, take those positives on your list, and make the MORE positive.

  • Make them CLOSER to you
  • Put them where you’ll SEE them more often
  • Make them EASIER to use
  • Make them HARD to not notice or not use

Basically, do everything you can to push you towards using them more and more, and get rid of roadblocks to using them.

  • Have grappling mats? Keep them on the floor, not folded up in the corner.
  • Put training gear (boxing gloves, BJJ gi, pull up bars, etc.) where you will see them and use them
  • Have a training partner? Make a standing appointment for him to show up at your house at a set time during the week.
  • Take supplements? Keep them out on the counter where you’ll remember to take them

The best guitarist I know keeps a guitar conveniently situated in nearly every room in his house.

Five minutes of downtime? He knows exactly what to do with it. And so should you.

Step 7: Add More Positives Into Your Environment

Ask yourself “What NEW things can I add into my environment that will encourage those Positive Actions & Behaviors from Step 3?”

  • Leaving grappling/fitness study material out on the coffee table?
  • Rearrange living room furniture to have space to stretch & exercise at the drop of a hat?
  • Some small pieces of training gear in your office or living room?
  • New friends who are motivating?
  • Training schedule on the refrigerator?
  • Submission Master dummy? iGrapple?

Experiment with new things that you think will make it easier and easier to do those actions.

Remember, the goal is to make those actions & behaviors into your DEFAULT actions & behaviors…

…and your actions & behaviors are a result of your immediate environment.

Keep training!
Bob Dorris