Welcome to part 2 of the 2022 BJJ Progress Plan, an ongoing series from top jiu-jitsu athletes and competitors to deliver actionable methods for improving your BJJ.

If part 1, brown belt competitor, Terrance Souser, explained how to use self-analysis to identify and attack weaknesses in your game. 

In today's segment, we hear from BJJ black belt, MMA fighter, and coach, Pám Bóveda Aguirre. She explains how she uses skills learned from her engineering background to create processes for continual BJJ improvement.

Let's see how she does it.

Process Improvement

by Pám Bóveda Aguirre (Black Belt MMA fighter)

As an athlete recovering from previous mental health issues, I feel fortunate to share some of the tools that have helped me improve in jiu-jitsu and in life. Thanks for being here and listening to what I have to say.

We as athletes are always aiming for and seeking improvement, in fact, continuous improvement. How can we ensure we will continue to get better at our craft?

I decided to use my previous knowledge and past experiences to work on that question.

After working for years in the airline industry and in auto maintenance shops, specifically the process and quality department, I decided to use my engineering skills to create process improvement tools for my jiu-jitsu.


I basically follow what is known as a KAIZEN CYCLE, or continuous improvement cycle. The cycle is defined as IDENTIFY, PLAN, EXECUTE, MEASURE, then repeat over and over forever!

So how do we apply the Kaizen Cycle to jiu-jitsu improvement?

The first step is to IDENTIFY through analysis. I analyze my matches, my techniques and especially my failures. I list all of them with the help of my friends, coaches, and my own analysis. Then I choose exactly what I want to improve, I call this my FOCUS.

Next, I make an action plan to work on my focus which is step 2, PLAN. This could include a lot of things - planning the monthly drilling sets, planning on how to incorporate what I need to work on into my schedule, etc. Make a plan!

I usually try to break things down into the basics, then I can start adding variations and new things. I watch hours of tutorials from the best athletes on the specific thing I defined as my focus. 

Next, I EXECUTE. I put the plan into action and usually work for one month before I reevaluate. Sometimes one month is not enough time to accomplish the goal so I have to analyze again, and re-do or extend my plan. 

Once that cycle is over, I MEASURE the improvement with my coaches. 

We’ll start from the beginning and analyze all over again to start the process again. It becomes my own BJJ KAIZEN CYCLE. 

Identify > Plan > Execute > Measure > Repeat

I use something called TRELLO, which is a free website project management application where you can organize your Kaizen Cycle. You can organize your cycle into TO DOs, IN PROCESS, and DONE. You can organize your tournaments, your drilling sessions, techniques and anything you wish to keep track of. 

I encourage you all to read more about KAIZEN and also KANBAN to ensure continual improvement! 

Kaizen In Action

Here’s an example of this process in action. My coaches and I found a very big hole in my jiu-jitsu - my takedowns! This was not acceptable as I am a black belt, MMA fighter, and especially because I’m a coach. This was the IDENTIFY part of the cycle.

Next we made a PLAN. I was to start training more wrestling and scheduled 3 hours per week of wrestling takedowns. I also dedicated time to watching tutorials to improve my takedown knowledge. And the hardest part of the plan...to not pull guard in any of my sparring rounds!

I have been executing this plan for a few months now and it’s almost time to measure, but I already know my takedowns have improved a lot!

So hopefully you can learn from this process and use it to improve your BJJ in 2022!

See part 1 of the 2022 BJJ Progress Plan here!

Will Safford