BJJ / Grappling Learning: Tips on Getting the Most Out of Your Sessions

The way we structure our rotational curriculum at the BJJ Labs is by theme (guard, passing, side control...etc.). Every theme lasts 4 sessions at a time and every session follows the same general structure with a warm-up, stand-up portion with grips and takedowns and a ground portion. Yesterday was no different and the theme was passing the closed guard.

I was faced with a mat of at least 24-25 eager faces so my personal aim, which I hit, was to ask them at least 6 times during the hour if they had any questions. I feel this is very important to ensure that none of the challenges they face later when they drill the techniques are due to misunderstanding of the instructions. Remembering and drilling what I said and showed is your responsibility but ensuring you have the tools to do so is mine.

What really struck me was how tentative people were to ask questions. During the whole hour I got 4 questions. They were good BJJ questions that may have settled more than 4 queries but I still felt 4 was a low number.

The only questions I am not fond of are the ones that divert from the theme of the session, for obvious reasons. I don't completely mind the "how do you counter that?" as they raise awareness of counters to keep in mind but I'd rather we drilled the grappling techniques live first.

Here are a couple of questions that can get you in the right mindset conducive to learning and help you get the most out of your BJJ / Grappling sessions (and of course privates):

1. When is the best time to opt for this technique / variation?
2. What's the most important (make-it-or-break-it) detail?
3. Will (can you make) this work with the gi on/off or in MMA?

In private BJJ sessions feel free to add the following two:

1. Is this your favourite variation of the technique?
2. Is this the variation that you think would suit my body type and style the most?

Communicating the intricacies of something as detailed and rich as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is difficult at best so give yourself all the advantages you can and start asking those questions.

For more on the subject of asking good questions please check my article from a couple of years ago called Re-framing and Re-phrasing in BJJ / Grappling.

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Georgette said...

Really well timed for me... I think these are excellent "food for thought" questions that ought to be asked of every technique in every class! :)

The Part Time Grappler said...

Many thanks Georgette. Ideally, the lesson plan should address these questions in every class but if not, the athletes will always benefit from asking them.

Anonymous said...

Hey Liam, thanks for thing I'd like to mention is the idea of a CCQ - Concept Checking Question...

As a teacher, I know how frustrating it is when you want students to ask a question but are hesitant. So one useful thing I've found is to move away from the "Does everyone understand?" or "Any questions?" Almost always that's met with silence.

But when you ask a specific question about the concept, then you can check if students understand, and if you need to explain it again; and you're much more likely to elicit an answer if you involve them with a question.

For example, if you show a guard pass, don't say, "Get it? Any questions?" Try something like, "So let me ask you guys, do you think it's better to do "x" or "y"? Then physically demonstrate the correct and incorrect technique, and more likely than not, people will choose the right one. If they choose the wrong one, then you know you need to explain the concept again. It's a built-in assessment!


The Part Time Grappler said...

@Anonymous...That's such a great suggestion!!! Please come visit the Labs!

I use that sometimes in my private sessions but never thought of addressing a room full of pyjamas with it.

I'm going to use that tonight. Thanks you once again dude/dudette.