Can 64% of your results really come from just 4% of your efforts?

The 80-20 Principles tells us that with anything in the world, it is the small causes that have big results. Also known as the Pareto Principle where it was first observed in the world of finance (named after the guy who first found that 80% of a nation’s wealth is held by 20% of the people), it has been shown to hold true in practically every facet of life.

Some things that take very little time and effort deliver big results on the mat.

Those who recognize this fact and take advantage of it have a huge leg up on everybody else. Perhaps the most popular example is The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris where he showed that if you can find and focus on those small things that cause the big results you can slash you work and effort while greatly increasing your results.

Of course, this all has a lot of direct transfer to training as well (Tim even wrote a book called The 4-Hour Body based on applying the 80-20 Principle to training). The truth is that most of your potential results only come from a small handful of things you can do and that when you focus on them you can see better results in less time.

80-20 2While this isn’t groundbreaking information for a lot of people, I recently read something about the 80-20 Principle that really changed my perspective on it. Namely, the 80-20 Principle is subject to the 80-20 Principle.

In other words, once you figure out what the top 20% is that causes 80% of the results you can then turn the 80-20 Principle on that top 20% and it still holds true.

The top 20 % of the top 20 % counts for 80% of 80% of your results.

If you are a bit confused you are not alone, it took this example for me to get it…

Let’s say that 20% of the roads in your town carry 80% of the traffic. If you then looked at the top 20% of those roads – or 4% of the total roads in your town – you would find that they carry 80% of the 80%, or 64% of all traffic.

That’s right, only 4% of the roads in your town carry 64% of all the traffic. Now, the numbers may not work out to exactly 80-20 every time – sometimes it is 70-30 or even 95-5 – but the principle of small things causing big results holds true.

The more you dig down into the top 20% of the top 20% the better you can leverage your time into results.

What this means for us as BJJ practitioners is that if you don’t have a ton of time to train then you better be focusing on that top 20% of things you can do with your time…or better yet the top 20% of the top 20%.

But this is where a lot of us get lost. Because so many people don’t understand the power of the 80-20 Principle they don’t understand that not every hour of training is created equal.

Some things you can do are much more productive than others.

And some things that take very little time and effort deliver big results on the mat (think stretching and mobility training for example).

Things like mobility training, strength training with an eye on the movement patterns you need on the mat and cardio training that focuses on the real energy systems demands of rolling deliver far more bang-for-the-buck than another mindless hour spent on “cardio training”, researching techniques on YouTube or beating the hell out of yourself in a CrossFit class.

When you tap into that top 20% of the top 20% you can have your life and your body back while rolling better than ever on the mats.

And this principle becomes even more important the more time you spend on the mats.

It gets tricky because it starts to become more of a juggling act as training time competes with mat time and other social/ family plans. Making sure you are doing the best with the time you have is crucial to making sure you stay rolling strong.

If you have any questions or thoughts about the 80-20 Principle and how it applies to training, rolling or even life please leave a comment below this post, I’d love to hear them.

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Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems

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Goodbye to a dear friend…my first training journal.

As much as I hate to do it I have to say good-bye to a dear friend this week. This friend has been my constant companion on my BJJ journey for over a year and I’m really sad to see them go. Luckily, though, I already have another one to take their place.

The “friend” I am referring to is my Jiu-Jitsu Log training journal. As you can see it has been well used over the last 14 months of training and I can honestly say it has made a bigger impact on my BJJ than just about anything else.

I first read about the Jiu-Jitsu Log and the idea of keeping a training journal in the book Zen Jiu-Jitsu: How to Improve Your Game 100% in 30 Days. Like most white belts I was looking for any edge I could find to speed up my learning curve and this book was a gold mine of tips that I recommend to every new white belt I talk to.

Having nothing to do with techniques, it instead focused on the habits that would make the strongest foundation for you to learn techniques from. While I am simplifying things a lot, it broke down to 3 steps:

1) Figure out what you need to work on.

2) Develop a plan to drill and practice those techniques.

3) Keep a training journal to force you to be mindful about your practice.

The key to the whole thing was being mindful when you are rolling and drilling and while you could do it without it, the training journal makes the whole process so much easier.

For starters, if you know you are going to have to write something down in your journal you will start to pay a bit more attention when you train and drill. Sitting down and drawing a blank about what you worked on that day isn’t a good sign about your level of mindfulness.

Second, the act of writing some key points down about a technique you learned or some refinements you made to a technique you already knew will literally activate the brains subconscious memory. This means that you are able to impress the memory of those techniques and lessons deeper than if you didn’t write if down in a training journal.

The truth is that 5-10 minutes after class writing some things down in your journal is worth far more than an hour of watching techniques on YouTube. And that, my friend, is the key to speeding up your learning curve in BJJ.

Now, a quick word on what to look for in a journal. I personally feel that there is a lot of value in actually writing your notes in a journal rather than using an app on your phone and typing them in. Again, the brain makes a connection with the act of physical writing it doesn’t with typing and this is one case where low-tech trumps high-tech methods.

You can get a simple spiral bound note book and use it to keep track of:

– The date

– Who taught

– What drills you did

– The techniques you learned/ practiced

– Who else was in class (this is especially helpful in learning new people’s names)

As you can guess, I personally use and recommend The Jiu-Jitsu Journal. I have no affiliation with them, I just found their journal to be really easy to keep track of things and plus it just feels cool pulling out a journal made for BJJ.

Whatever you end up using, make sure you are keeping a training journal. I’ve logged almost every class, seminar and private lesson I did over the last year in this one and I plan on filling up this new one even faster.

So how about you? Do you keep a training journal and have any tips on using them or what to keep track of? I’d love to hear your thoughts, just leave a comment below this post.

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Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems

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A bold way to start 2014…are you in?

Alright, so 2014 is here and I’m sure you’ve made some sort of promise to yourself about your training and/ or nutrition program. I know that I sure have and that’s great, except I know that odds are very high we’ll never see them through unless we take some massive action.

Heading into the New Year we always hear people around us talking about what they want to accomplish in the next year. But here is the sad truth…most of those people will not make much progress on those goals.

The problem is that action is the only thing that brings results. Thinking about things doesn’t do it and neither does studying and learning more about it, “planning” your next move.

You have to act to see results.

But action is a tricky thing because it takes guts and the ability to be alright with making mistakes. It is so much easier to talk about what we would or want to do in the future than to actually act on them.

As my favorite 17th century Samurai would put it –

“The warrior attitude is very simple. Focus your mind on your goal, constantly strive for perfection and don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked.” – Miyamoto Musashi

In other words, once you have a goal start taking action on it. Focus and commitment are easy words to say but putting them into action is a different story.

To do this it is very important that you don’t worry about doing everything “perfectly”. Figure it out as you go, making mistakes and seeing them as opportunities to learn.

And one of the best ways to do this is to commit to spending at least 20-30 minutes a day working towards your training goals for the next 28 days.

If you really want to see change then we need to take action on those goals and there is no better time to start than today.

At the end of the 28 days you’ll not only look and feel differently – not to mention rolling differently as well – but you’ll also have built some good habits and learned a lot about yourself and your body along the way.

This is one of the best ways to kick start your training program because it gets you into the habit of forcing yourself to make time to train. If you have to wake up a little earlier or turn off the TV a little sooner then you do it, no excuses.

You can’t make excuses, only work on finding solutions.

This puts you in a totally different mindset compared to the “we’ll see if I can find some time to train this week” mentality we usually take with our program. You start seeing opportunities to train when you can instead of obstacles to train like you think you should be training.

Like I tell my clients, there is optimal and then there is reality. In my experience this 28 Day Challenge is one of the best ways to learn how to deal with reality instead of stress over optimal.

Just to keep things simple I’d recommend shooting for 2-4 days of strength and conditioning and doing some mobility work on the other days. Whatever it is you choose to do you just need to punch the clock and put in your time each day.

So to help you with this challenge I’m giving you a free copy of the Accountability Log I’ve used with some of my clients in the past. It is a great way for you to see how you’re doing each week with your training goals plus, let’s face it – there is just something motivating about being able to check something off your list.

Click here to download the Accountability Log and instructions on how to use it.

Just remember that taking action can be a messy process and things often won’t go as planned. You may miss a few days over the course of the challenge but instead of worrying about how many you might miss because now isn’t the perfect time to start, think instead about how many you’ll miss if you don’t try.

Fortune favors the bold, my friend, and this 28 day Challenge is a bold way to start 2014.

I’d also like to mention that if you need a training program for this 28 Day Challenge the free 30 Day BJJ Bodyweight Workout Program would be perfect for you. With short, fun bodyweight only workouts it is exactly what you need to fit smart, effective strength training into your busy schedule.

That’s it for now, if you’re in for this 28 Day Challenge then post a comment below this blog post. I’ll be doing some check in posts over the course of the next 28 Days and we’ll see how many of us are still on track.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems

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Why being alright with sucking is the first step to learning how to do something right.

As a coach I’ve noticed a trend with people both in the gym and on the mats when it comes to learning something new. They seem to think that the once they’ve been shown something their first goal is to “do it right”.

Doing it “right” isn’t the goal, you’re goal is to do a little better each time.

However, people rarely go from learning something new to “doing it right”. Instead, they have to go through a period of sucking at it until they learn how to do it right.

And this is where most people get stuck.

They aren’t alright with sucking, which makes it tough to learn how to do it right. They figure that if they can’t do it perfectly right off the bat they may as well not even try.

The reason I’m bringing this up is that I was reminded of this the other day when helping a kid figure out how to balance on his knees on a stability ball.

There were a bunch of kids playing on them and I had shown him how to do it but he was really timid. When he tried it you could tell that his top priority was not falling off and looking like he didn’t know how to do it in front of everyone.

Once I told him that he’s going to fall off his first time so just get it out of the way he relaxed. He went for it, fell off, saw it wasn’t thay bad and within a few minuted was balancing like a pro.

And it all started with giving him permission to suck until he figured things out.

I also see when someone how to do a new exercise. In fact, this happens so much that I have a pre-planned speech that goes something like this…

“Don’t worry about doing it right. You have a lot of bad reps before you figure it out so just relax and get them out of the way.”

Whenever I say this you can see the tension leave their face. Once they know that sucking at it is part of the process and not an indictment on them as a person they can relax and let the learning begin.

In fact, even when you figure out how to do something right you’re goal should still be to look for ways that you can get better. This, in essence, says you’ll never have it figured out because you know you can always get better.

If you’re goal isn’t to hunt down how you suck at something but instead to rush to get it figured out and “do it right” then you’ll hit a point where you can’t progress. How can you improve when you’re trying to protect your ego instead of being honest with yourself about how you can improve?

So what does this mean for you?

Be bold when trying to learn a new exercise, workout routine or technique.

Being bold doesn’t mean being stupid and taking unnecessary risks. It means doing the best you can, knowing that you won’t do it “right” and not caring about how you look doing it wrong.

Applied to your riding and training this mindset will save you a lot of stress and open you to possible solutions you’d never see if you’re not alright with sucking. Besides, no ones is perfect which is why we are constantly pursuing it.

Doing it “right” isn’t the goal, you’re goal is to do a little better each time.

“Men are not perfect in any aspect of their lives, no matter the amount of time, effort and energy that they put into their search for perfection. The virtue of perfection is that it is always just beyond a man’s reach. This is good. If perfection were attainable it would have no value – there would be no reason to pursue it”. – Miyamoto Musashi from The Book of 5 Rings

So how do you feel about sucking at something? Are you alright with it, embracing it as part of the learning process or do you find yourself avoiding it? I’d love to hear your thoughts, post a comment below to let me know what you think.

And if you liked this post please click one of the Share or Like buttons below to help me spread the word.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

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