BJJ / Grappling Tips: How To Learn BJJ Faster?

For some reason, everything sounded muffled to Randy

I once read in a great little book that we spend 80% of our day communicating, half of which is spent listening. As you all know, there are many facets to communication: Listening, talking, reading, writing, gesturing, interpreting...etc. Here is a simple model of communication I once used here on the blog

Feeling - Thought - Idea - Formulation - Expression - Impression - Interpretation - Assimilation

The same book highlighted how strange it was that the first thing we are taught in school is writing. Often followed by reading. The subject of talking is sometimes touched upon and listening, well, I don't think I've ever been taught how to listen properly! It is always assumed that if you can hear, you can listen. Any wife will happily tell you that's not necessarily true!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the art of movement and communication thru movement. In a similar fashion to normal schooling, we are often taught how to write (express physically thru movement) and some of the best teachers or instructors are the ones who give us the most in terms of techniques (teach us how to write beautifully and powerfully). Unfortunately, however, many if not most stop right there. Let's face it: The majority of BJJ instructors are rubbish at teaching us how to:

1. Read (how to learn visually or by watching)
2. Talk (how to learn by teaching or deconstructing techniques and concepts)
3. Listen (how to learn audially or by listening to words, sounds and silences)

I don't think BJJ instructors do this on purpose. I just think that they teach in the way that they were once taught, with perhaps a tweak here or there. Some might actually be great teachers of the above three methods, but we simply never spend enough time around them to pick these skills up.

I remember attending the European Karate Championships in Bremen, Germany in 2003 with my great friend and instructor at the time Sensei Siamak Rezaie. We spent most of three days sitting next to each other watching the top karate players in the world do their thing. It was such a great experience, not just because I was learning Karate, but because Sensei was teaching me how to learn. He went to great lengths to point out what I should look for, listen for and also how he thought we should teach and integrate we had learned from the competition! It was a real eye-opener.

If you can, I recommend you spend sometime with your BJJ instructor honing these skills. If you aren't lucky enough to know them that well or have the time or resources to book regular privates with them, make sure you look into good books on the subject of learning. A good start is "Ways of Learning (David Fulton Books) by Alan Pritchard.

In the meantime, here is a small teaser. Please watch this video on escaping the mounted position using the footdrag as shown by awesome BJJ black belt instructor Mr Roy Harris. Once you have finished watching it and only then look at the simple questions below the video:

In the above video:
  1. Did you hear Mr Harris' opponent's right hand touch the mat to brace him within the first second of the video clip?
  2. Did you hear Mr Harris shrimp twice within the 11th second, one to face his opponent and one to turn on his left hip?
  3. Did you see what Mr Harris' right hand was doing throughout the first 12 seconds of the technique (holding the opponents pants at his right hip)?
  4. Would you know how to teach this technique to a brand, new beginner at BJJ or grappling?

The reason I chose such a fundamental and basic technique such as the footdrag escape from mount is because most of us are taught that within our first couple of months of learning BJJ (or at least should be). Many of us are confident in saying "Yeah I know that technique", but how well do you know it?

By learning thru more channels, we learn faster and understand BJJ techniques and concepts better.

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starchild said...

Wow, this was very insightful Thank you!

The Part Time Grappler said...

Those are very kind words :)

Sensei always said "we have to steal information that is not given" :)