I am packing up my bags for the next 5 weeks. I’m leaving Miau-Miau with some friends, and I am on the road. For 4 weeks I will be in Jinju teaching English to little munchkins in a Korean staple – the English Winter Camp. You see, my job is a teacher trainer, and I have been working to develop the young learners program – only I have no experience with them. So now I’m finally going to be actually teaching them, not just teaching about them.

In the next 4 weeks I will be unable to observe any BJJ classes, but I want to keep sharp. So here is my plan during the next 4-5 weeks. It’s actually in part very similar to what Stephan Kesting recommends about staying in grappling shape over the holidays.


As I’ve been preparing my goals, I realized there is overlap between BJJ self-study and language self-study. Not being able to practice BJJ is a bit like losing your voice and not being able to practice a foreign language – having all input but no output.

Acquiring vs Doing

It’s been shown that if a student reads in a foreign language (sustained silent reading) that overall their entire performance in that language goes up. Stephan Krashen is famous for his theories about second language acquisition, which is ultimately about acquiring language vs directly learning it.

Monitor Theory hypothesizes that adults have two independent systems for developing ability in second languages, subconscious language acquisition and conscious language learning, and that these systems are interrelated in a definite way: subconscious acquisition appears to be far more important.

Perhaps that idea of second language acquisition works for physical languages as well as verbal languages. Allie wrote about her teammate Daniel, who was out for 2 years but consistently came and watched classes. In an email to me, he said that “[My instructor] actually told me that he felt like my coming and watching and absorbing made me significantly better when I returned to training. ”

Stephan Kesting mentions this in his article:

…it’s been discovered that your body has neurons (“mirror neurons“) that fire both when you DO an activity and when you WATCH an activity. So this suggests that there is some basis for getting better by watching BJJ, even if you can’t do it.

Solo Improvement

If you have no one to speak a foreign language with, o ther ways of practicing are: a) reading b) writing c) watching videos d) listening to songs/podcasts e) doing exercises.

If you have no one to train BJJ with, you can train your mind– a) watching instructional videos b) watching competition footage c) reading books d) use the Internet e) visualizing.

No Rest for the Wicked

My herniated disc has not meant that the pause button has been pushed on the BJJ part of my life. I’ve been going to classes, but this will not be an option for the next month. So for December I have set some goals for myself.

No, not this kind of goal!

Goals are good if they are SMART. These are all Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. I will post one article per week (minimum) on this blog. In it I will include updates on my weekly goals – how much I’ve achieved–adding accountability.

1. Watch the Gracie Bullyproof boxed dvd set. It was sent to me last year with the purpose of my reviewing it (haha hilarious timing – Georgette just posted her review of it!) and I just hadn’t gotten around to watching all of it. Goal: watch 10 videos per week – roughly 2 per day, 5 days per week.

2. Watch Marcelo Garcia sparring. BJJweekly.com posted a review of MGinAction.com. In addition to instructional videos, it also shows him rolling. BJJWeekly.com posted a code for a free week trial – the normal price is $25 per month. Goal: spend 20 minutes per day for 7 days on this site. If I like it, I will sign up for it.

3. Read Saulo’s Jiu Jitsu University, focusing on the white belt and the blue belt chapters. There are 5 sections in white belt and 14 sections in blue belt. Goal: read one section every 2 days.

4. Read BJJ/MMA articles in Korean. I want to compare translations of the article on google translate and identify borrowed words, that way I’m adding to my active Korean Jiu Jitsu vocabulary. I will also ask my Korean friends about the sentences so I can understand them better. Goal: one article per week, 3-4 times per week, 10 minutes each time.

5. Review my instructor’s videos in Korean. I hope to find some of the vocabulary I’m learning and listen for it. Plus, it will be good to review techniques my instructor has taught me. Goal: one video every 2 days.


6. Take notes. Slidey always talks about the wonders of keeping training notes -well, I want to keep notes on what I’m reading and seeing – I think I’m missing something by not processing it. Goal: take notes as I watch and read.

7. Exercise. Work has been hard and I haven’t been logging quite so many points on Fitocracy. That will change. Goal: log at minimum 100 points per day. Reach level 11 before going to Malaysia.

8. In Malaysia, doing easy drills with Cupcake. By that point I will have been off BJJ for 3 months. Short time in the long run, but forever in the life of an addict. 🙂 Goal: drill BJJ every 1-2 days.

Note: I want to thank you guys for helping keep me active in BJJ – even just my brain. A danger the first time you have a serious injury is to just drop out and never return. My big inspiration for writing this article was that my Brazilian friend Abrandao wrote an article about me! (Just in case you don’t read Portuguese and you’re too lazy to go to google translate, you can click here for the rough translation). Having someone write that you are an inspiration is motivation to keep going :). So thank you, Abrandao!!! and welcome to any new readers there!

So what will YOU be doing in December to up your game? Do you supplement your class-time with reading or watching videos?