BJJ Tips: Drilling against progressive resistance is the fastest way to learn new, functional skills.

Brilliant teacher Mr Christian Graugart: The BJJ Globetrotter
BJJ / Grappling has enriched my life in many ways. Some obvious such as the health benefits (physically and mentally) and some more subtle ways but no less important and profound (spiritually, great friendships, fun...etc.).

If I had to single out the one activity within BJJ that I feel is the most responsible for all there fantastic effects I'd have to say it's what is often referred to as the Isolation drills or isolation stage.

You can learn more about the Isolation stage here and here but in a nutshell, it's a process of controlled pressure-testing of a skill. I actually came in contact with this a few years before I first stepped onto the BJJ mat, in a language teaching course to be exact, and it wasn't even called Isolation back then. You see, a great model for teaching language is the CRA model or more commonly referred to as the ARC model (simply because it's easier to remember). This stands for:

Controlled Practice: Where skills are introduced. Compliance is important at this stage. An example would be learning a new set of words or phrases. This is also called the Introduction stage.

Restricted Practice: Where the new skills are tested within a restricted environment. The skills (words/phrases/techniques) are used in context but with limitations on where the conversation (spar) can go in order to spend enough time honing that particular skill and making a reliable part of the student's repertoire. An example would be asking student pairs or small groups to discuss very specific scenarios where the above words of phrases can be used and how they may differ from each other. This is the Isolation stage. The teacher (language / maths) or instructor (BJJ) controls the whole experience and guides it. A BJJ example would be constant guard passing drills. If you pass / get swept / get tapped, you reset and go again.

Authentic Practice: This is where the learner uses the newly acquired skills in an authentic, naturally arising situation, akin to sparring. Of course, it doesn't mean that they will always use it correctly or that they'll never make mistakes or get surprised by further applications and contexts but simply that they have now integrated the skill into their body of knowledge, hence the name Integration stage.

Why do I value the middle stage so much? For a number of reasons:

Because it's focused. I get to spend a large portion of time working specifically on one thing.
Because I can take ownership of my progress. I can add segments before and after sessions or even dedicate separate sessions to it.
Because it's easier to sell to tired training partners
Because anyone and everyone can do it. Someone who's never done a day of BJJ can walk in and benefit both herself and others on the mat in a narrow-enough Isolation drill.
Because it affords me to work situations that may not arise often enough organically (like testing mount retention on a black belt)
Because it forces me to train my situational attributes (e.g. working side control escapes for 30 minutes straight and building the sensitivity, timing and endurance specific to that)
Because it helps even out my skills (forcing the wrestlers amongst us to work on their guard and half guard)

and many other reasons.

My reasons are not important.

Your reasons are.



Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

Proudly sponsored by Predator Fightwear: Built for the kill and Brutal TShirt: Made By Grapplers For Fighters

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