Goal setting is the principal skill for personal growth and peak performance. It will help you with your Jiu Jitsu and also your life outside BJJ.

You need to be proactive with your BJJ training and set weekly, monthly and yearly goals for yourself. By having goals, you are designing a step by step roadmap for your BJJ skill development.

Training Goal Formulas for BJJ

A properly written goal ought to be lofty enough to inspire you and realistic enough that it’s attainable.


Formula for Goal Setting: A.C.T.

Accept your current state

Create your desired state

Take action to get you there.

Accept your current state

Creating a goal begins by Accepting your current state.  Perhaps, right now, you’re always getting your Guard passed.  Or maybe you can never finish an Armbar during open mat.

Create your desired state

Next, use your imagination to Create your desired state.  Maybe your Armbars are much tighter and you’re finishing a majority of the Armbars you hit.  Or maybe your Guard is more fluid and transitional and is suddenly much harder to pass.

Take action to get you there

Finally, Take action to get you to that desired state.  By taking action, you could be drilling the Armbar from Mount 100 times every Tuesday and Thursday for the next month.  Or you could drill Grip fighting and Shrimping in your Open Guard for an hour every Monday and Friday for the next 6 weeks.


Formula for Attaining Your Goals: S.M.A.R.T.

Now you need a formula to help you write actionable steps to help you achieve those goals.



Action Oriented



Specific –  One must zero in on the task or area of needed improvement.

The goal cannot be vague or too ambiguous.  “I want to Tap more Dudes out in two months,” is too obscure as a goal statement. Better would be, “I want to improve my Bottom Half Guard transition into X Guard on my right side.”

Measurable –  One must be able to determine if and when the goal has been achieved.

Measurable results is difficult since Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not quantifiable like track and field or weight lifting.  BJJ is more qualitative; and thus, it’s more about how you feel and how you’re moving and how effortless and fluid your transitions seem. To make your goals measurable for BJJ, the focus needs to fall on repetitions and time.

Action Oriented –  Focus on what you’re going to do today to create the future that you want for yourself tomorrow.

Many people concentrate on the outcome. But it is the process and the journey that is important. The statement: “I am going to do high repetition Guard Passing Drills for an hour twice a week,” is process oriented. How I train today will make me a champion tomorrow.


Realistic –  The key is to tackle moderately difficult tasks attached to a reasonable time frame of achieving that goal.

“In two months I am going to do 40 hours of repetitious Armbar drills,” is too difficult to achieve if you’re only making it out to 2 group classes per week.  You’re only setting yourself up for failure.

Timely –  One must have clearly defined time constraints attached to their goals.

A goal is a dream with a deadline.  Every goal needs a target date for completion.  As well, the time frame the goal is to be achieved must be reasonable.

No one achieves their goals based on wishful thinking.  Create an action oriented process for developing your skills, and you’ll be on your way to higher success with BJJ!

Ritchie Yip

Vancouver BJJ Head Instructor, InFighting MMA, Downtown Vancouver

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