I wrote a post back in December talking about the over consumption of information. Here’s a link to that post “Thanks, But Too Much Information”. Everyone loves buying the new DVD sets showing 5 hours of techniques; the problem is, you won’t ever be able to consume all that information. Even if you’re one of those photographic memory, genius types, you may consume it, but you’ll never really learn it that way.
How many times have you bought one of these sets for hundreds of dollars? If you even watch the whole dvd, which you probably won’t, you’ll only remember a handful of techniques, and be able to apply even less when you’re rolling. That’s right, you just spent all that money to learn two or three techniques. These big box sets don’t teach you Jiu Jitsu, they just bombard you with techniques so you feel you got your money’s worth. So if your goal is to see as many moves as possible without ever really learning the concepts, keep buying these mega set’s.
I have found the best way to learn BJJ is through repetition and concepts. You need to work one or two ideas until you can do them in your sleep. Whenever I have had a problem or see a student having a problem, I teach and follow these 5 steps so I’m always training BJJ, even outside of class.
After almost every training session, I try to sit and think about the things that worked and the things that didn’t work. I use reflection as a tool to keep track of my good and bad days. When I say reflect, I don’t mean think about it for 5 – 10 minutes, I mean run each match back through your head and actually write down what went well and what you need work on. Keeping all of this information in one book or training journal is the key. It will allow you to watch for any patterns, and address them immediately when they’re found.
Now, when I say research I don’t mean go watch 2 hrs of Youtube videos. Research, to me, is thinking about a position, breaking down each step, and identifying the missing link. You should also ask instructors, fellow students, or even me (shoot me an email with a quick question or video and I’ll try to help firstname.lastname@example.org) where you are messing up. Depending on your school, and how cool your instructor is, this can be an easy way, or a painful way to get answers to your questions. You need to intelligently assess the situation, and constantly re-evaluate your efforts.
Now that we’ve identified the problem with the technique, we need to address the solution. How will I insert a movement or mindset in order to stop a particular submission or make a technique work better? Questions and answers is the process. BJJ teaches you there’s an intelligent solution for every problem. Sometimes that solution is tapping out, sometimes it’s turning a failing submission into a sweep, and sometimes it is following this 5 step process.
Asking questions and getting answers is always the best way to overcome any issue you are having in Jiu Jitsu. Anytime I’m trying to learn something new, or correct a mistake, I follow this exact system. Once I get to step 4 I review steps 1-3 and try to find any concepts that will help me understand BJJ from a higher level. A simple conceptual example is if I’m going to sweep someone I need to control an arm and a leg on one side, their base. If I can remember that, I don’t need to memorize and exact sweep. I can sweep from various positions by applying the larger concept of controlling my opponent’s base on one side.
The last step of the system is drilling. If you want to improve you have to put the work in outside of class. We have done the mental preparation, reflected on the problem, broke down how to fix it, and have looked for any overall concepts. Now we need to drill until the techniques become second nature. We want to work this one position with 2-3 variations for a few weeks, or longer. Remember, Bruce Lee once said “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Basically here’s my philosophy toward learning BJJ outside of the school. Take it slow and work one idea at a time. Don’t overload your brain with hundreds of ideas that you will never understand or even remember. Learning from a system, with concepts, will always beat learning from over consumption.