BJJ Syllabus Structure: Have You Been Taught the Basics of BJJ / Grappling?

Last Friday, I had the privilege of attending a class at Eddie Kone's EKBJJ Headquarters in London. The contents of the session and the long discussion and interview I had with him afterwards (video and transcription to follow) fired up so many questions and topics in my head that will colour the blog-posts of the Part Time Grappler for some time.

While there will always be a lot of talk about the basics of BJJ / Grappling and a number of overlapping opinions of what they actually contain, the bigger question on my mind is not the comprehensiveness of such list, but rather when and how these are actually taught.

By attending one BJJ/Grappling session, you already know more than the majority of the world's population. Does that mean that you can use your new knowledge on all of them successfully as they resisted? Not really. It's not that simple, is it?

It would however be fair to assume that the progressive resistance drills you most likely did will give you a somewhat higher awareness and alongside it higher likelihood of success in pulling the move(s) (e.g. armbar) off within the particular geography (e.g. mount).

What if you go for a second session? Chances are you will be doing a new set of moves, possibly in a different physical geography. How does that effect your comprehension of what BJJ Grappling is? Does it add another area or set of moves, parallel to the first, at which you have slightly higher awareness than the rest of the non-practicing population? Or is there some crossover? Is this conscious or sub-conscious? Is it long term? In that case, how long? These are all questions that really interest me.

Thanks to the recent works by Rener and Ryron Gracie in the development of the syllabus of their programme, the Gracie Combatives. I've been exposed to the potential of a linear, or as I prefer to see it: circular, syllabus in amplifying the learning

Think about it. What, if not a thought-out syllabus, guarantees that practitioners get enough exposure to a technique or position. The syllabus itself need not always be as extensive as what the Gracie Academy has done, but it needs to be there and it needs to be cyclical. An excellent example is Cane Prevost’s 20-week revolving syllabus. You'd have to be very unlucky to miss out instruction on any off his topics. Sooner or later, he gets ya!

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Meerkatsu said...

Yeah I like the revolving syllabus idea - my coach used to tell us in advance which weeks he would be teaching certain things. Recently that's not been quite so structured, but I think it is still his aim to give a typical averagely attending student (like me) the chance to go over most basic positions in BJJ over a certain cycle, which then repeats over again. Of course it's entirely flexible and he adds to it or alters it to suit current trends and or own growth and development.

I look forward to Eddie's interview, I spoke to him this weekend and he had high praise for you indeed :)

The Part Time Grappler said...

Exactly. It's a tool, an opportunity for the instructor to look after her students and cover all the basis.

As for Eddie, he's a true gentleman. Did he mention that he:
-took the session even tho his rib was broken? How often do you see that?
-Called all his students, irespective of belt colour, by first name? HE KNEW EVERYBODY'S NAME!
-Spent over half an hour giving an interview to a complete stranger at 10pm on a Friday night?
-Didn't charge a penny for the session?

and a thousand other small things that just gave me such an enormous respect for the guy. I mean let's face it, if he had appologised for not taking the session due to injury or that he couldn't give the interview or even done the above and expected payment...I would've still done all that with a smile. The guy is an inspiration. You'll see in the interview (I've finally figuered out how to split it into 3 parts, as YouTube won't take anything longer than 20 minutes)

He mentioned that you were bobbing down and of course praised you too. I'm so chuffed now that he said that. He told me I have very soft jiujitsu. That frikkin made my whole weekend.

Meerkatsu said...

Heh heh very cool indeed.

A.D. McClish said...

I like the idea of the circular curriculum. For me, seeing a technique taught one time gives me the basic concept. But then I have to see it two, three, maybe even four times more before I pick up all the little details that make it work against a resisting opponent. The things I notice when Fabio shows me a basic armbar are different than the things I noticed on my first day of class. I'd be interested in seeing this teaching plan.

The Part Time Grappler said...

I really think you're onto something there Allie. It's all about awareness. The first time I noticed it was with escapes. I do EXACTLY the same escapes now I used to do 5 years ago(well, I say escapes but I mean escape attempts, thank you Martyn!) but everytime we work them I notice new things about weight, hips, arms...etc.

That's why I always feel that whoever says drilling the basics is boring simply isn't paying any attention. To me, boring = nothing new, nothing exciting. How can discovering small (often low-effort) moves thru drilling be boring, especially when you suddenly discover how to add techniques you couldn't previously do to your bag-o-tricks?!