Chris Herzog: Skill+Preperation+Right Mind Set = Success. PT.3

March 6th, 2009 In Theory | 2 Comments

Part 3: Right Mind Set

In the final installment of the Equation for Competitive Success, we are going look at a few exercises to help establish the right mind set for competition.

There are several methods and exercises to help develop the Right Mind Set. Finding what works best for you is the key. I’ve found a good blend of concepts from psychology of combat and sports psychology that works best for myself and my students. Three exercises that I like include: Goal setting, positive attitude, and visualization.

Goal Setting: plays a large roll in establishing the right mind set. Goal setting is divided into 3 tiers:

Long term goals: are those that are the hardest to obtain. For many competitors long term goals are the driving force behind their motivation for competitive training. These are largely considered the “dreams” of a competitor. Such aspirations as competing in ADCC, winning Mundials or PanAms, etc would be considered a long-term goal. If these seem extremely difficult to accomplish, they should be, its the reason to wake up every morning and get out of bed and train after you’ve been beaten up the night before. Aim high!

Mid level goals: are very difficult to accomplish, but with hard work and dedication can be achieved. These are the goals that should be the mid waypoint to achieving your long-term goal. You should have to work hard to succeed with mid level goals, but they should be obtainable. If not adjustments may be necessary. Some reasonable mid level goals would be medaling in local and regional level tournaments, qualifiers etc. The main focus should be to take steps towards your long term goal.

Short term goals: should be the meat and potatoes of your goals setting. These are the daily and weekly goals you set for yourself.
They work best for your daily conditioning, flexibility, technical training. Setting short term goals such as number of technical repetitions, beating certain times for conditioning routines, etc. are ideal short term goals. Succeeding in your short term goals builds a foundation for the right mind set.

Write down your goals and share them with your trainers and teammates, its holds you accountable.

Positive Attitude: may sound simplistic, but developing inner strength and appropriate confidence is essential for a successful competitor. Keeping a positive attitude should be centered around things you have control over. Using things like positive statements and keeping a positive attitude when mistakes are made is essential. When mistakes are made, use them as learning tools and an opportunity to make corrections. Keep the positive attitude “I can do that”, or “Next time I’m in that situation, I will succeed”. Developing a positive attitude is hard work, accept the challenge, and work at it daily.

Visualization: is my favorite development tool, its extremely powerful and assists in accomplishing goals and for developing the right mind set.

Visualization is drawing a mental picture or scenario that you play out in your mind. It may be difficult at first but like everything else, the more you practice the better and more vivid it becomes.

The two types of scenarios I stress the most are; the sensation of winning (success) and the execution of your Personal Attacking System against an opponent.

Always try to replicate the competition environment (use all your senses): noisy crowd, matches being called over a loud speaker, guys warming up on the side of the mat, the feel of the mat under your feet, and the sweaty musty smell of your opponent. All of these things brings a familiarity to your visualizations that raises your level of comfort when you compete.

I tend to do my best visualizations, after a hard nights training, as I’m lying in bed before I fall asleep. I run through my Personal Attacking System, imaging a struggle but being successful, then seeing myself getting my hand raised.

Another good opportunity is while your stretching before a practice. This sets the tone for practice and what you’ll be focusing on while you roll/spar.

If your like me, during a training camp I’m fine, up until a week to two weeks out I get random bouts of anxiety about the upcoming event. I could be driving, sitting at my office at work, out to dinner with the wife, etc. One of my coaches used to preach immediately visualizing success at those times. The reason was like Pavlov’s salivating dog theory. You start to equate success with your anxiety and nervousness. This type of random visualization alone has helped myself and my team tremendously. However I don’t support visualization while driving 🙂

Don’t stop with these exercises, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Developing the Right Mind Set is essential for competitor regardless of the sport. All to often we focus on skill training and conditioning and neglect developing our mind for competition as well. Every gym has that one or two guys that tears through everyone in the class, but when they get on the competition mat they get folded like a babies diaper. They only way to get beyond that is to train your mind as part of the greater whole.

By now you should at least have a basic understanding of the planning and process necessary to increases your chances for competitive success. Nothing is for sure, and as most of you know anything can happen during competition. Our attempt is to just increases the odds in our favor and utilizing the Equation for Competitive Success does just that. Good luck and if you have any questions about implementing the Equation for Competitive Successes into your personal program, don’t hesitate to ask.


Chris Herzog is a competitive stud and runs 10th Planet Rochester

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Check The Technique w/ Brent CUO: “All You Need Is Three Moves”

March 3rd, 2009 In Theory | 26 Comments


I only think of three moves during sparring – no more, no less. Every move I make is a step towards one of those three moves. I spend little if any time in positions where I can’t execute one of these moves, and if I am forced into a no man’s land where my moves are ineffective, then I immediately plot a course back towards on of them. At a minimum, I try to keep myself one to two steps away from execution of these moves at all times, and at a maximum, I never get more than three steps away from them. I am like a heat seeking missile that has three targets. So, these statements beg the question, “Why would someone do this?”.

Well, first, after watching years of footage of the greatest bjj players on the planet, I noticed that for the most part they hit the same submissions or sweeps over and over again. One only needs to watch a Marcelo x-guard highlight to understand that. Thus, after noticing such a fact, I hypothesized that a competitor’s ability to win has little to do with the size of his arsenal and more to do with the effectiveness of the few weapons he has. So, why practice with fifty different guns that I won’t use? Why not practice with three guns that I can master? Thus, I chose my sniper rifle, my shot gun, and my sidearm, and I began working on becoming a crack-shot with each, just like all of the top level guys did.

The second reason I chose this way of training was that I noticed that the better the player I rolled with, the more that he had me reacting, and I did not want to do that anymore. When rolling with the top level black belts, I was constantly trying to weather the storms while never getting to execute my game. In short, I was losing in my mind and on the mats. Therefore, I looked to create a methodology whereby I was never reacting and was always imposing so that I could get back to winning. That methodology was picking my three moves and finding entrances to them from every offensive and defensive position. In that way, no matter what horrid position I was in, I still could operate under the impression that I was actually the person on the offensive. Now, I know that this could sound delusional, but this mentalization has actually given me the energy to keep moving when I was in the worst of predicaments.

Finally, the third reason that I chose this method was that I always wanted to stay focused during a match. Sometimes, when I was rolling with a top level grappler, I would find my mind shuffling through moves. Meanwhile, my opponent was moving into different positions where I had to add new movements into the shuffle. This kept me out of focus and away from winning. So, instead of continuing to stay in this cluttered head space, I found a way to get rid of the waste and hold onto only the necessary moves. I threw away everything but the thought of how I could execute on of my three moves. I cleared out the playlist and left only three songs remaining. In this way, I discovered a trick to bring my mind back into focus and back towards winning.

Now, I know that for most people, they do not have the years of experience which has allowed me to find my perfect three moves. However, even for those people this methodology is still practical. The only thing that will change over the weeks or months is that they may want to swap out different weapons until they find their perfect arsenal. At least, this way one will be able to work towards a goal instead of swimming aimlessly through useless malarkey.

words by Brent CUO

Skill + Preparation + Right Mind Set = Success. Pt. 3

December 5th, 2008 In Theory | 9 Comments

Coach’s Corner w/ Coach Chris Herzog




In the first two installments of the Coach’s Corner we took a look “Preparation” and the role it plays in the “Equation for Succes”. Moving forward were going to cover “Skill”, and how it should be integrated into your training camp.

Skill training for competition is going to be different then general skill training and development. During our 3-6 week training camp we are going to be narrowing are focus to two areas: generic responses and specific attacks.

Generic Responses:
This drill training will be centralized around defending common attacks; armbars, triangles, guillotines, mount, side control, etc. This is about economy of time. Spend this time doing repetitions of defenses and escapes to basic and high percentage scoring techniques, that ones that win the most. Worrying and focusing time on techniques that you may not be exposed to is poor use of your time, that can be better spent drilling escapes to techniques that are likely to happen. There is a time and place to practice defenses to flying armbars and rolling leglocks but drilling them during a training camp is a wasteful use of precious time.

Specific attacks:
This is the main reason I started with the preparation installment first, because development of strategy based on a events rules and how we score points will help formulate changes and tweaks to our personal attacking systems. Your PAS (personal attacking system) can be heavily influenced by numerous factors: your instructors teachings, your body type, strength, flexibility, etc. An example: you have your opponent in side control, ones PAS may have him transition to mount, another attempting a kimura or far side armbar, or even another transitioning to twister side control hunting to finish with a Twister. (Note: development of your PAS should be done during your on going training not during a training camp. However adjustments should be made based on individual rule sets.)

The drill training of your PAS should not only include the techniques themselves but the transitions that get your there. If your PAS includes systematic dissecting of your opponent by using Rubber Guard you not only need to drill your RG attacks, but how we get there, and what we do if we get shut down. This goes back to our strategic game planning. Pulling guard may not be an option if we loose points in doing so. However this is were we implement drilling training formulated based on our strategic game plan and our PAS. Remember our reference to Demian Maia shooting and pulling 1/2 guard in the previous installment. This is how we add transitions to our PAS based on the influence of a scoring system.

Whether your drill training your Generic Responses or your Specific Attacks make sure you pay attention to detail. Repetition of poorly drilled techniques will result in poor execution. Gradually increase resistance while drill training, if you can’t execute a technique against a partially resistant partner you can forget successfully applying it against a fully resistant opponent. To quote Eddie Bravo “the difference between most purple belts and black belts is numbers”. Putting in the numbers (reps) will revile itself when it matters most, on the competition mat

Coming Soon:

Right Mind Set 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: