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The Cheat Code: How to Get Better at BJJ by Analysing Matches

Picture this: you’re at your next BJJ class, and you pull off a move so flawlessly that your teammates and coach give you nods of approval. How did you get there? By watching and analysing BJJ matches. In this article, we’ll explore how you can get better at BJJ by matches. How this is a powerful tool for improving your own skills and how you can get the most out of this practice. We’ll discuss the benefits, the right way to watch matches, and how to integrate what you learn into your training.

get better at bjj

1. Enhance Your Technique Understanding

See Techniques in Action

Watching high-level matches helps you see techniques applied in real-time, under pressure. It’s one thing to drill a move in class, but it’s another to watch it executed perfectly in a high-stakes match. You get to see how top practitioners set up, transition, and finish their techniques, which provides a clearer understanding than any instructional video.

Learn Variations and Setups

One of the fantastic things about BJJ is the sheer variety of techniques and setups. By watching different competitors, you can discover new variations and setups for moves you already know. This can give you new insights into how to apply them in different situations and against various opponents. It’s like adding new tools to your toolbox.

2. Improve Your Strategy and Game Plan

Understand Match Flow

Watching matches helps you understand the pacing and flow of a fight. You’ll notice how competitors manage their energy, control positions, and set the tempo of the match. This understanding can help you develop your own game plan and adapt your strategy to control the match better.

Develop Counter Strategies

Every match presents unique challenges, and watching how competitors react to these challenges can help you develop counter strategies. You’ll see how they deal with aggressive opponents, defend against specific submissions, and escape from tough positions. This knowledge is invaluable for anticipating and countering your opponents’ moves in your own matches.

3. Mental Preparation and Confidence Building

Visual Learning

Visual learning is incredibly powerful in BJJ. Seeing techniques and strategies applied successfully reinforces what you’ve learned in class. It helps to solidify the movements and concepts in your mind, making it easier to recall and apply them during training and sparring.

Build Confidence

Watching others succeed can build your confidence to try new things on the mat. It can be inspiring to see top-level competitors execute techniques that you’ve been practising. This can motivate you to push past your comfort zones and trust in your own abilities.

4. Choosing the Right Matches

Match Your Style and Level

Look for matches that feature competitors with a similar style or at a similar skill level to yours. This makes it easier to relate to their techniques and strategies, and see how you can implement them into your own game. If you’re a beginner, watching matches of white or blue belts can be more beneficial than watching black belts, as the techniques will be closer to your current skill level.

Study Top Competitors

Focus on watching matches of top athletes to learn from the best. Competitors like Marcelo Garcia, Gordon Ryan, and the Mendes brothers are masters of their craft. Studying their matches can provide insights into high-level techniques and strategies that you can aspire to incorporate into your own training.

5. What to Look For

Techniques and Transitions

Pay attention to how techniques are set up, executed, and transitioned between. Notice the small details that make a move successful, like grips, body positioning, and timing. Watch how competitors transition smoothly between positions and submissions, as this is often where matches are won or lost.

Defence and Escapes

Study how competitors defend and escape from difficult positions. Defence is just as important as offence in BJJ, and understanding how top practitioners stay safe and escape from bad spots can greatly improve your own defensive skills.

6. Taking Notes and Reflecting

Keep a BJJ Journal

Keeping a journal to note down key takeaways from each match can be incredibly helpful. Write down the techniques, setups, and strategies that stood out to you, along with any insights or questions you have. This will help reinforce what you’ve learned and give you a reference to look back on.

Reflect and Review

Regularly reviewing your notes and reflecting on how you can apply what you’ve learned in your own training is crucial. Think about how the techniques and strategies fit into your own game plan and how you can incorporate them into your next training session.

7. Drilling Techniques

Partner Drills

Partner drills are essential for solidifying the techniques you’ve observed in BJJ matches. Working with a partner allows you to refine the details of each move and develop comfort with the movements. Through focused drills, you can transform what you’ve seen into muscle memory, enhancing your proficiency on the mat.


When you find yourself without a training partner, visualization becomes your most potent tool for refining BJJ techniques. Through mental rehearsal, you can vividly imagine executing movements and transitions with precision and fluidity. By incorporating visualization into your solo training regimen, you reinforce your muscle memory, enhance technical proficiency, and deepen your understanding of the techniques observed in BJJ matches.

8. Integrating into Sparring

Focused Sparring

During sparring sessions, it’s beneficial to concentrate on specific techniques or strategies you’ve gleaned from watching matches. By selecting one or two focal points for each session, you can gradually integrate new techniques into your repertoire without feeling overwhelmed. Focused sparring allows for deliberate practice and facilitates the seamless incorporation of learned techniques into live scenarios.

Experiment and Adapt

Sparring provides the perfect opportunity to experiment with new techniques and adapt them to your unique style. Embrace the learning process by testing out different approaches and strategies derived from your observations of BJJ matches. Don’t shy away from making mistakes; instead, view them as valuable learning experiences that contribute to your growth and development as a practitioner.

Watching BJJ matches is a powerful tool for improving your skills and understanding of the sport. From enhancing your technique to building confidence and strategy, the benefits are immense. Remember, it’s not just about passively watching – actively analyse, take notes, and apply what you’ve learned in your own practice. So, grab some popcorn, settle in with some top-tier BJJ matches, and watch your skills on the mat soar. 

Are you ready to take your training to the next level? Start a free trial at GCJ Academy with head coach Ricky and see the difference expert guidance can make!