I was lucky enough to get an interview with Justin Rader not too long ago. The guy’s got a lot of energy and insight – and also happened to to win the 2010 No Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships at black belt.

Hence, I figured he’d be a good guy to chat with.

Towards the end of the conversation I asked him:

Dan: “If there is one piece of advice you’d give to someone who really wanted to achieve in Jiu Jitsu, really make it to the top in this sport, what would you tell them?”

Justin“I’d tell them to learn Jiu Jitsu at the right pace… Bad habits take twice as long to fix, so its important to make sure you understand the movements. Also, if you’re practicing with someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing that can hurt your game.”

I’ve heard this same kind of idea about bag habits from boxers and wrestlers – whether its “swimming your punches” or shooting improperly, these things have to be worked on for much longer than learning it right initially.

The concept has clear implications for Jiu Jitsu beginners. Its unlikely that you’ll develop great Jiu Jitsu if you aren’t learning great Jiu Jitsu, or if you aren’t testing yourself and getting feedback from someone who knows what they’re talking about.

(Good thing for Rader, he happened to start wrestling very young in a place called Oklahoma – which I hear has pretty good wrestlers – and began his BJJ career with a guy named Rafael Lavato Jr – who I’ve heard is pretty good at grappling [might have even won the worlds… could be just a rumor].)

The thing is, we are all beginners in the sense of finding new areas to develop technique, aught we all not follow this advise and make sure its the best stuff (IE: make sure it WORKS at a high level) before getting it into muscle memory?

The concept can be boiled down to this (which conveys its broad application, no matter your skill level):

If you’re going to develop a skill or ability, make sure you’re getting valid feedback from an expert in order to set the initial habits.

If there’s a homework assignment its this:

  1. Figure out something in you’re game you’re currently focusing on and developing
  2. Find someone who is an expert with that set of techniques (preferably someone who pulls it off regularly at high level competitions – which would be the best credibility indicator here)
  3. Get as much detail from them BEFORE you drill the heck out of those particular movements

Take care, train hard,


Dan Faggella writes about training methods, skill development, and goal systems in combat sports at www.scienceofskill.com
He also teaches Mixed Martial Arts in Southern Rhode Island at his gym:

The Omoplata Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy.