Shark Tank Training Method

Shark tank training is one of my favorite forms of rolling.

I’m sure you’ve heard of it although it may go by different names at your academy.

I want to delve a little bit deeper into the specifics of my own training because it’s something that I get asked about a lot.

I just want to start off by saying that this type of training isn’t just for competitors. It’s great for all level of students and an easy way to organize rolling.

Shark tank training usually involves groups of three or four, and is designed to give students more rounds of sparring than they could achieve from normal training rounds.

Typically the rounds are short. Not more than three minutes. In order to allow for lots of sparring without having one person sit out for too long. I’ve also seen really short rounds ranging from 30 seconds to one minute. This is great for serious competitors but probably not good for students just wanting to train for fun.

With groups of three, one person will stay in for two rounds allowing the other partners to alternate resting and rolling. After completing two rounds. That person then rests one round. Repeat for as many rounds as you want.

The benefit to this type of training is multi-layered.

For one, you don’t have to pair students up after every round. This can be time consuming and honestly takes time to develop. Pairing partners is an important part of teaching that often gets overlooked. It’s a skill in itself.

Two, students get a lot of rounds of sparring. With normal training rounds you might roll at most 10 times assuming you go for 6 minutes. That’s 1 hour for my math shy friends. Now, say instead of normal training you do the shark tank training instead. At 3 minutes a piece for a little over 1 hour you could squeeze in 21 total rounds if everything goes perfectly. With about 14 sparring rounds per individual.

Again, you’re gonna save a lot time pairing partners. Even if you have the students pair themselves it never goes smoothly. Some students are shy and have trouble getting partners. Some students will use the time in between the pairing to get water or to use the bathroom. Further slowing down the pairing process.

I don’t know about you guys. But I’m really conscious of my management of the time during my classes. I want to offer the best instruction and class I can for the time that I am allotted. Because I fully understand that time is a precious commodity.

With groups of four, the concept is essentially the same. However, instead of having one individual rest. Both pairs of students will roll twice. Making sure to alternate partners accordingly within their group. Then taking the third round off for rest. Rinse and repeat.

Again, this is a great method of training. It’s excellent for pushing students out of their comfort zone. During a long training session many students will take their time and can play it safe. But with the shark tank training you can push your students a little bit harder. There’s less time to work with so students will have to take more risks in passing, sweeping, and going for submissions.

Try adding this to your training and watch your level rise.

Thoughts before a competition

Just finished competing at the first major tournament of the year. The IBJJF European Championship.

My results didn’t go the way I wanted them too. But as I often tell my readers. We can learn a lot from our tournament experience.

We can’t control what happens on the day of the competition. No one can. But we can control our actions and thoughts leading up to our event and what we do after the competition.

For this post, I decided to focus primarily on what goes on in the mind of a competitor before a major competition. Drawing from my own experiences and those of my close friends.

I think the last few days leading up to a competition are some of the most important and stressful.

It’s that period of time when you’ve done all of your physical preparation and there’s really no more time left to add anything new to your game.

All that’s left is the last bit of mental prep.

The more I train. The more I’ve seen the importance of the internal aspects that develop from our training. Some might call it fortitude, or poise. Whatever you want to call it.

This last bit of mental prep can make or break your tournament experience.

I’ve seen athletes that were beasts in training. Beating everyone.

Go into competition looking like a shell of their former self.

The hard truth is that not everyone competes well. Sometimes it isn’t due to their techniques or skill level. But everyone can bring their best self on the day of the competition.

I had to narrow down my list a bit. But these are some of the major thoughts that I’ve had before big competitions.

Did I train hard enough?

No matter how hard you prepare for a tournament. All the drilling, rolling, strength training and cardio. All athletes are going to have some level of doubt in their preparation. You’re always going to feel like you could’ve done more or pushed harder.

A lot of tournament success depends on your preparation. You prepare the best you can but the second part of the equation that many competitors miss out on is believing in themselves.

Believe in your training. Believe in your training partners. Believe in your instructor. Believe in your techniques. Above all believe in yourself.

This is easier to talk about than to develop. It will take time.

The other competitors are more well known

There’s been many times coming up through the ranks when I would have someone approach me. Often before a match. To inform me that my opponent was so and so or won such and such title.

I honestly believe these people were trying to help me. But it often had the adverse reaction. If I was super focused, this would often be enough to let doubt enter my mind.

I’m also sure many of those people wanted to throw me off in order to help their friend I was competing against.

Regardless, you can’t let your opponents past success or your own cloud your mind. Each tournament is different. Believe in yourself and go for it!

What’s my game plan?

This one is highly dependent upon your style. Some competitors follow a strict move A plus move b equals c formula while others have a more improv style.

Figure out what works best for you and stick with it.

I always suggest using techniques that you practice and use during your training.

If you normally play spider guard. Use your spider guard in the competition. Don’t play fifty fifty or some other guard as your main move if you haven’t practiced it.

Will I be on or off the day of?

There’s no way to control this one. The best we can do it try to keep our routines as close to normal as possible.

Have you ever experienced a great roll or day of training where everything was going your way and you performed way above your normal abilities?

If so, try to recall everything that happened on that day like how you slept, what you ate, and anything special that you did to help you perform well.

Once you’re able to pinpoint these things. Try to replicate these factors consistently in your training.

If you’re able to nail this down you will be ready for comp day.

What will I do if I lose?

Again, we can’t control this. In fact, it’s best not to even worry about it. Losing happens. Everyone loses in Jiu jitsu at some point during their career. Don’t dwell on the negative. Even if you lose you hopefully won’t die during the tournament. Although your ego/pride might get a little bruised.

What will I do if I win?

This is a better use of your energy. Instead of worrying about losing. Worry about winning and what you will do after you win.

I know I usually think about how I’ll celebrate after the tournament or how many followers I will gain on social media or how many academies will want to host me for seminars.

For me, each tournament and every competition is a chance to showcase my skills and show the world that I am one of the best.

If you master this mindset you can beat anyone.


There are so many thoughts that will run through your head right before a competition.

You can kill yourself worrying about every possible thing that could go wrong or how good your opponent(s) will be.

Or you can focus on the things that you can control like your preparation before and your mindset going into the competition.

There are times during a match. Especially really close ones where you are evenly matched in skill. When believing in yourself and having a positive mental outlook could be the deciding factor in winning versus losing.

Training at a high level competition academy

I’ve been fortunate enough to train at many different types of academies throughout my career.

Different in their atmosphere.

Different in their focus.

Different in training philosophies and techniques.

I just want to start off by saying that there is no one best school or academy. It all comes down to whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

You could have access to the best training partners and instructors in the world. But if the training environment is toxic, it’s no good.

In this post we’re going to look at the benefits (or upsides) of training at a well known, competition oriented Jiu Jitsu academy and in the following weeks I hope to examine some of the downsides as well.

High Level Academy

Most regular people aren’t looking for the most competitive academy.

Gold medals and championship wins have no meaning to them.

That’s something that I try to drive home to any martial arts business owners or future academy owners.

Your average student is looking for a fun, safe, and decently located place to workout.

Being a world class facility only has sway over students who are: (1) into competitive Jiu Jitsu, (2) understand your accolades, (3) want to train hard.

There are lots of reasons for training at a competitive Jiu Jitsu academy but they all boil down to pushing your comfort zone.

Of course, not every student is going to compete. But there will be this culture of doing tournaments or atleast training hard that will permeat through all the programs within that academy.

During the late 2000’s early 2010’s, the academy that I trained at was one of the best academies in America and arguably one of the best in the world.

In addition to myself, we had numerous pans champions, world champions at the lower belts, and ADCC vets.

We were the quintessential competition academy. Of course, we still had a strong foundation in self defense and the fundamentals of Jiu Jitsu. But we were mostly known through our success in tournaments.

And because of this we were able to attract many like minded students from all over the U.S.A. in addition to developing our own home grown students.

1 High level training partners

The biggest reason for training at a high level academy is because you’ll have access to high level training partners.

No matter how naturally talented you are. You can only go so far watching competition video, drilling, and visualizing. Eventually, you get to a point where you will need the help of good training partners to help push you past your limits.

It wasn’t uncommon to have athletes decide to completely uproot their lives, quit their jobs, and move down to train at my academy. Some guys wanted to be world champions. While others wanted to dedicate themselves more to their practice by surrounding themselves with those who wanted to become world champions.

Everyone had their reasons.

Having access to a large stable of tough training partners. All with different body types and skill sets. Is the fastest way to improve your Jiu Jitsu.

A popular saying in Jiu Jitsu is that, “iron sharpens iron”.

And this is very true for the best academies in the world like Atos/Art of Jiu Jitsu, Alliance, and all of the other top academies. They attract the best talent which in turn helps them to do bettter in competitions.

Outside of the training aspects. High level training partners allow you to immerse yourself completely into the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle.

Not only are you be able to train hard, but you’re also able to have in depth discussion about techniques, mindset, and training.

You’re surrounded by like minded individuals that have similar goals and can help motivate you.

You also become more accountable in your training. So if you’re slacking off or taking too much time off. You have someone that can and will call you out on it.

I won’t lie and say that this is always the most fun or inviting environment.

It’s not.

But if you have dreams of reaching a new level in your Jiu Jitsu and doing well nationally or internationally. It makes a big difference training at a high level academy versus a lesser skilled academy.

2 Knowledgeable instructors

High level academies tend to have very knowledgeable instructors.

As important as it is to have good training partners. Having the right instructor(s) is the cornerstone of a great competitor and on the larger scale, a competitive academy.

Examples such as Fernando Terere and the offshoots of the old TT academy such as cobrinha, Andre Galvao, Lucas Lepri, and Michael Langhi.

We see this even more recently with Romulo Barral and his students Edwin Najimi and Gabriel Arges.

Great instructors make great students.

It’s no wonder that the top academies tend to stay on top for years. They are able to take students with potential and mold them in to champions.

Your instructor influences everything from developing your foundational knowledge as an athlete to helping you overcome the highs and lows of our sport.

High level academies are able to develop inhouse or attract many of the best instructors because of their great training environment.

I’ve written about this before, but if you’re a lower belt and you are beating the majority of your training partners (and even the instructor) then there is a good chance that academy might not be the best place for you to pursue a competive career.

I know this advice sounds harsh and it is.

3 Competitive environment

Combine high level training partners with really great instructors and you get the perfect competitive environment.

It’s hard to explain if you haven’t had the chance to experience it yet. The feeling of training hard everyday and knowing that your training is often harder than the actual competition.

The feeling of having close teammates doing well in big tournaments and having the confidence that you will do well too.

Or being able to get an invite to an exclusive tournament, or increased exposure on social media and Jiu Jitsu news sites because you train with so and so.

There are so many benefits to training at a high level academy that it’s not possible for me to list them all.

If you have plans of competing in Jiu Jitsu and want to do well at the bigest tournaments. Then training at a high level academy or moving to one could be the deciding factor.

Over the years I have met many talented grapplers. They had all the attributes of a great competitor but without the proper training environment to help you develop and grow. That potential can easily be wasted or not fully tapped into.