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The 20 Good Ones Challenge

You should drill more. You should. You know it, I know it, and the American people know it.

I should, too. To inspire us both, here’s a challenge.

The next US Grappling tournament in North Carolina is April 19, which is not quite 40 days from now. If your school is anything like ours, we have several people competing — including many who are competing for the first time. It’s important for everyone to drill, but it’s especially important for those who don’t already have a slate of options from every position.

When I did my first tournament, I set a goal to have at least two moves that I could try from every position with some confidence. This helped me focus and prepare, and it’s something I’d recommend. For my first tournament, I certainly didn’t have more than 20 techniques at my disposal. And now that I’m trying to be more focused, I want to whittle down the things I do as well. Picking a set of moves and working on them is good for everyone, regardless of experience level.

Hence, the 20 Good Ones Challenge:


Let me explain. If we’re trying to become proficient at a discrete array of techniques, a little extra drilling can go a long way. But that drilling should be precise: I don’t want to bang out sloppy reps of a move I’m going to rely on.

That’s why I want to set a very realistic goal: picking a series of moves I’m likely to use and then doing 20 high-quality repetitions of them for at least 20 of the next 40 days. If you train with me, let’s do this together. (If you don’t, feel free to glom onto this idea anyway).

Of course we need to be going to class during this time as well, so this should take place before class, or after, or at a time and place of your convenience. I lead a 6 a.m. class twice a week, so perhaps we can add a day or two of drilling in the lead-up to the tournament.

The steps are easy:

  • Make a list of 10-20 moves
  • Set a time to drill those moves
  • Don’t let yourself off the hook for drilling those moves
  • If you mess up a few of the reps, do extra reps until you can’t get the move wrong.

Your armbars will thank you. Your guard passes will thank you. If you let me drill with you as a partner, I will thank you.

Here, I made a ransom note:

ransom note

The upshot: if you’re competing at this tournament, you have 38 or 39 days to train. Every other day, get a little extra work in. Show up a little early or stay a little late and get 20 good reps in of the techniques you need. If you’re not competing at this tournament, surely there are many ways in which you’d benefit from a little extra drilling.

It’s just 20 reps. Once a day for 20 days. You should drill more. I should drill more. Let’s do this.


About Jeff

I write, work for social justice, listen to music and grapple. That's about it for now.

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