Skill+Preparation+Right Mind Set = Success. Part 2

Coaches Corner w/ Coach Chris Herzog

Tournament Strategies

When developing a strategic game plan to win, it is imperative that your know the rules set that you will be competing under. Yes submitting your opponent should be the ultimate goal, however this may not always be possible depending on the strengths and strategies of your opponents.

Knowing what scores and what penalizes can make the difference of a win/loss in a match. I’ve seen countless competitor loose matches specifically because they didn’t know or didn’t understand the rule sets they are competing under. We’ve all seen the take down and stall strategy, where one competitor takes down the other only to play defensive and ride out the clock to win 1-0. The guard player could of had 10 sub attempts and tried to finish but still loses.  This is a  drain physically, emotionally and even financially that can easily be avoided if the competitors studies the rules and trains accordingly, even if for a few weeks prior to the event.
 Its becoming increasing common for competitors to be penalized for pulling guard as well, employing intelligent strategy can help us avoid being penalized while still attacking with our strengths. Attempting a double or single leg, sitting through to take guard, Damian Maia vs. Nate  Quarry is a beautiful example of this.

 “But my takedowns suck!” True but your opponent likely doesn’t know this, and that’s what drill training is for. Attack with intent, they’ll be forced to defend allowing the sit through to guard.
Its all about selling your attack, making them respect it, and forcing them to defend.

Even though my teams overall strategic game plan remains the same, little tweaks and twists based on an events rule set have allowed increased success. It’s all about percentages, even if its only a few percent change. Percentages matter at all levels of competition, especially at the elite level where even a 1% change can be the difference in a win or a loss.

Warming Up:

How one of the simplest concepts can be so easily overlooked is beyond me. I literally have to stalk down And hound some of my competitors and force them to warm up and stay warm prior to their  matches.
 A proper warm up the day of the event is  absolutely necessary for optimum performance. Many competitors are slow starters and don’t get into the zone until mid way point in the match, by then it may be too late. I have many of those guys on my team, and we’ve come up with some guidelines to help keep them on track the day of the event.

•Initial warm up 20-25mins: I prefer that our team warms up together, it re-enforces unity and the team concept that builds necessary morale and confidence the day of the event. The initial warm up consists of a light jog with some functional flexibility drills. Next would be static stretching, followed by pummeling, and transitional drills (takedowns, throws, positional and submission escapes). I tend to have them stay away from our attacking game plan as eyes are watching, and I’m sure as hell watching others.

•Keep warm: Wait times can be absolutely ridiculous while waiting for your division or waiting in between matches. A few things I preach; a keep a sweat shirt and pants on, keeping something on your feet, if the floor is cold it can seep into your legs, wearing a skull cap is another way to keep heat trapped in your body.

•Match prep: Get a good sweat going and elevate your heart rate before the match(I shoot for about 70%). When you step on the mat you want your body to feel as if your all ready 2-3 minutes deep into the match.  This will defiantly help those that are slow starters.

Also remember stay hydrated (sip water throughout the day). I also like my guys to eat light through out the day; fruits and nuts are great energy sources (oranges, apples, bananas and raw almonds). Finding a balance is the key, over or under eating the day of the event can also have an effect on your performance. Lastly stay away from foods that aren’t part of your regular diet, you would be surprised the impact it will have on your body.

Over the years I’ve seen some very skilled competitors get beat by lesser skilled, but better prepared opponents. Hell, we see it all the time in MMA. It’s becoming increasing common to watch a fight and see the underdog win. This is largely due to their preparation. Forest Griffin personifies the importance of preparation, he’s become a UFC champion because of it.


Coming Soon:

Skill and the part it plays in the competitor’s equation for Success.



-Chris Herzog



Is a Brown Belt in 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, under Eddie Bravo.  Chris runs 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu Rochester out of Empire Academy of Comabt Sports & Fitness in Rochester, Ny. Chris also teaches Judo, Sambo and MMA. He is available for seminars and be contacted through the Academy website at: or by e-mail:


8 Responses to “Skill+Preparation+Right Mind Set = Success. Part 2”

  1. Chris Herzog says:

    •Match prep: Get a good sweat going and elevate your heart rate before the match(I shoot for about 70%). When you step on the mat you want your body to feel as if your all ready 2-3 minutes deep into the match. This will defiantly help those that are slow starters.

    Sorry guys I left out some of the types if things to get the heart rate going: Jumping rope, pummeling, takedown entries,etc.

  2. Chiun says:

    Thanks, Coach Herzog. I totally agree on the preparation for different rule set because there’s nothing more frustrating than being superior skill wise than your opponents but somehow lost on the case of technicality. I have to admit that I am guilty of not staying warm enough between matches, I also remember reading somewhere saying about 50% of body is escaping the body from a head. So the skull cap is definitely a good suggestion.

  3. Chris Urbanski says:

    Very informative Coach.

    What about power bars and the like? I know that eating too much can drain your energy through digestion but how do you feel about Power Bars / Cliff Bars?


  4. Chris Herzog says:

    “Lastly stay away from foods that aren’t part of your regular diet, you would be surprised the impact it will have on your body.”

    Same thing goes for powerbars. I try steer away from anything that’s not a food that “breathes”. Also stay away from anything that has High Fructose Corn Syrup, like Gatoraide.

  5. john A. says:

    Any specific reason to avoid high fructose Corn Syrup stuff ?

  6. Chris Herzog says:

    Why its bad for us:

    “Since HFCS’s widespread introduction in the 1980′s North American obesity rates have skyrocketed. Obesity has been linked to may heath issues including heart disease and many forms of cancer. When HFCS is ingested, it travels straight to the liver which turns the sugary liquid into fat, and unlike other carbohydrates HFCS does not cause the pancreas to produce insulin; which acts as a hunger quenching signal to the brain. So we get stuck in a vicious cycle, eating food that gets immediately stored as fat and never feeling full.

    The Dangers of HFCS:

    “Nancy Appleton, PhD, clinical nutritionist, has compiled a list of the harmful effects of fructose in her books Lick the Sugar Habit, Healthy Bones, Heal Yourself With Natural Foods, The Curse Of Louis Pasteur and Lick the Sugar Habit Sugar Counter. She points out that consumption of fructose causes a significant increase in the concentration of uric acid; after ingestion of glucose, no significant change occurs. An increase in uric acid can be an indicator of heart disease.12 Furthermore, fructose ingestion in humans results in increases in blood lactic acid, especially in patients with preexisting acidotic conditions such as diabetes, postoperative stress or uremia. Extreme elevations cause metabolic acidosis and can result in death.”

  7. Chris Herzog says:

    Thats was just two little clips of what I found when I googled: “Dangers of high fructose corn syrup”