How To Best Learn From Instructionals?

A training partner recently asked me what I thought about learning from BJJ instructional apps and DVDs.

Short answer: I love them!

In contrast to YouTube videos – which tend to be isolated, individual techniques – DVD sets teach a system surrounding a position. They show us how all of the techniques surrounding the position work in combination.

You will learn the overall framework of a position instead of a mishmash of techniques. This is invaluable as you develop a game around a position and have an answer for whatever your opponent does.

With all of this information at our disposal, how do we best learn from the instructionals?

I advocate having a single focus on a position for a month or more. Get obsessed with that position and really try it out. A DVD set should have enough material on it for several months of drilling.

Here’s how you should use it.

Take Bite-Sized Pieces Of The Material

You just can’t process all of the information in a week. If the instructional is put together well, the instructor will have the chapters in a specific progression – e.g., entries, control, sweeps, submissions, counters.

Pick one area at a time. Don’t get distracted after one week and jump onto another DVD set. You need prolonged focus and a single step at a time.

Drill It During Open Mat

You need a solid training partner who has the same interest that you do to learn the position. Either at open mat or at the end of class when rolling starts, go to the end of the mat and bust out some serious reps of the techniques until you understand the movement and mechanics.

Your body needs to make some mistakes until it learns how to perform the move smoothly. Set a goal to hit 50 reps of the move. Repetition is the mother of skill.

I recall one instructor challenging two BJJ students to perform 500 repetitions of the triangle choke in a month. You want to bet their mechanics and understanding of the triangle was sharper after that?!

You need to deconstruct and put techniques back together with your partner to deeply understand how and why they work.

Sharpen Your Position With Specific Training

The more I ask black belts about training, the more advice I hear about “specific” or “positional” training as a means of sharpening a position.

Let’s use De La Riva guard as an example. You start a guard passing drill with one of you in De La Riva guard position and the other trying to pass. If you sweep or submit, restart; if the passer successfully passes, restart.

By attempting to pass the DLR guard, you will gain a deeper appreciation of what is giving you trouble.

Positional training will put you in the exact situation you want to improve for the maximum number of training time.

Of course, your instructor can help you fill in the gaps and answer your specific questions.

Those days that you are off the mats with an injury or unable to make it to class due to work, studying an instructional can be the second best option for learning and keeping your mind in BJJ.

Read also on Jiu-jitsu Times: “I’m Not Getting Any Better!”


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