If you travel, you may bring a kimono along and drop in for visit at the local BJJ academy.
You also may want to do a private lesson, especially if the academy is operated by a well-known instructor.
But what should you ask to work on?
You don’t want to waste your precious lesson time on something unproductive, so how do you get the most out of your time?
Here are two ideas for you.
Ask yourself, “Is the instructor especially known for a certain type of game?”
The truth is that not all instructors are equal at all positions. If you ask for a private on a position that the instructor rarely uses, you may be disappointed in his depth of knowledge of THAT specific position.
It is rare to find a black belt who has zero knowledge in a ground position, but would you ask old school Relson Gracie for tips on your berimbolo? Would you ask the current crop of sports competition specialists for a tutorial on your entry and clinch against punches?
I had a friend who got obsessed with learning the butterfly guard. He booked a private with a visiting high-level black belt and asked to go over that guard.
My friend was disappointed after the private because the instructor had only a handful of techniques from the position.
He later acknowledged that not all black belts have a comprehensive understanding of every position in jiu-jitsu.
It is better to go with the strengths of that instructor.
Pick something that you are already competent at
A huge part of how much benefit you get out of your private is how much you retain after the private?
Sure, you can see a bunch of cool moves, but if they fade from your memory before you can return for the next training session, what good are they?
I have witnessed many students attend seminars or classes at other academies and return to the home academy excited about the techniques they saw.
When I ask them to show me what they learned, they get a few steps into the “awesome move” and then stall.
“Uhhh, I forget. How did it go again?”
They have completely forgotten how it went!
If the position is too advanced or unfamiliar to you, it is much more difficult to understand and retain.
You are significantly more likely to get (and keep!) something from your private lesson if you work on something that you are already familiar with.
* Tip: Get video of the techniques you liked as soon as humanly possible after the private.
It is astounding how quickly you will forget those important details!
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