Different Kinds of Speed in Jiu Jitsu

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One of my training partners was recently complaining that he felt slow.

He said that usually he would be faster to avoid getting swept or submitted. He would post faster. Find his base faster. He would be better.

Now this guy is fast. This particular training partner is known to be one of the fastest guys at the gym.  Physically he is very fast. Much faster than me. Let’s call him Gonzales. But the reason Gonzales felt he was being slow wasn’t because his physical speed wasn’t up to snuff. I feel that I am about average speed, and Gonzales, even on a slow day, is still faster than me. He didn’t feel up to snuff because I was ahead of him. I was attacking earlier and transitioning sooner. I was anticipating his responses before even he could anticipate his responses. He was attributing his poor performance to some lack of physical speed on his part. But he was focusing on the wrong thing. This made me realize, there are three types of speed.

  1. Mental speed. This is the speed of decision making. It doesn’t matter how physically fast someone is if they become frozen in indecision. If analysis paralysis kicks in, physical speed is irrelevant. Fast and accurate decision making will always beat physical speed with slow decision making. Mental speed comes from experience.

  2. Technical speed. This how quickly and smoothly a technique can be executed. If someone is fumbling all over the place it doesn’t matter how fast they are because they are just fumbling at high speed. A technique done slowly and smoothly is faster than one that is fast and spazzy. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Again, this type of speed comes from experience on the mat.

  3. Physical speed. The final type of speed is raw physical or athletic speed. Is it possible for a slow person to become faster? Yes, but it is going to take a lot of work. It is much easier to work on mental and technical speed first. If a grappler has lots of athletic speed but no technical or mental speed their physical speed is useless and can’t come into play. If two opponents have equal mental and technical speed then the one with the most physical speed will have an edge.


    You don’t need physical speed to be in the game, but regardless of how fast you are, you will need mental and technical speed. These come from mat time and drilling. Try to find a consistent way of getting in drilling time for your A game every week and you will see improvements in your speed and smoothless no doubt. Happy Training :)

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