Why We Should Train at a Slower Pace: Continued

In part 1 of this 2 part series, we discussed how performing the bulk of our training at an intensity of 50-75% appears optimal for skill development.

  1. We learn more because we are able to perceive more.

  2. We no longer rely on physical strength to compensate for technical weakness.

  3. We are no longer able to leave strong postures.

  4. We come to value learning over our ego.

  5. We will fail more and thus heighten our chances of success.

Now we take a look at the big picture and how this style of training improves skill acquisition over a lifetime.

Delaying Fatigue

Most people end their training session when they are too tired to keep training, which seems perfectly reasonable. If one’s aim is to have a great workout, job well done. But if our objective is skill acquisition, we have limited our mat time due to inefficiency in training.

We already have such a finite amount of training sessions in our lives, we mustn’t limit ourselves further due to the myopic mindset of “just work harder.”

Take a typical recreational student aspiring toward black belt:

He or she trains twice a week for ten years, taking class and staying for 3 rounds of randori each night before fatigue sets in. If our student trained at a lower intensity and got just one more round in a night, that’s an extra 1,000 roles in a lifetime. They will have 33% more opportunities to learn and grow.

We cannot comprehend the difference this would make in an individual’s progress.

Avoiding Injuries

When we train in the 50-75% range of effort while staying in strong postures, we greatly limit the amount of injuries that will occur to both ourselves and others. Staying healthy and on the mat is of obvious benefit to ourselves, but keeping our partners healthy is just as important.

Our teammates are our tools for growth. The more consistently they can train the more skill they acquire, resulting in a more difficult problem to solve during training which fosters our growth.

In Jiu Jitsu, the maxim holds true that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Selfishly, we must strive for our teammates furthest development because it is the only way we will achieve our own.

Now, I know the counter argument:

This is all easy for a black belt to say, but what about the rest of us who do not have the technique to operate at 50% capacity and survive during training?

To this I respond with a slight alteration to the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, when he said:

“There is only one inborn error, and that is that we exist in order to be happy.”

For our purposes,

“There is only one inborn error, and that is that we expect to develop technical mastery without getting whooped at some point in our development.”

For some the phase is brief, for other’s its a purgatory, but for all of us we can be sure of one thing: the slower we train, the more we will learn, and the faster our metamorphosis from nail to hammer will become.


If we use this art wisely, our technical development will run parallel with our personal development. The more sincerely we approach our training the more Jiu Jitsu’s benefit will transfer into the rest of our lives.

We must train slower for our Jiu Jitsu, but above all else, we must train slower for the development of our soul.

Want to read more about Jiu Jitsu? Check out Chris’s new book, On Jiu Jitsu. Want to try Jiu Jitsu for yourself in the Florence/Burlington, NJ area? Sign up for our Introductory Special now!

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