BJJ: Learning Moves You Already Know…

One of my teammates, Brad, suggested a topic for me to discuss: Brad has an affiliate academy and he had some difficulties with his younger students goofing off during a class and saying that they didn’t need to pay attention because they already knew the move being taught. This brings up an interesting subject in Jiu Jitsu: what are the merits of learning a move you already know?

Everyone learns differently, and as a result there can be an infinite number of methods of doing any given move. Every time I learn any move, even one that is part of my “go to moves” list, I pay close attention. For every moment during the execution of a technique there can be micro transitions that one person may find important but another may not.

For any given technique, there is almost an infinite number of grip sets available and leg positioning options amongst other details. Case in point: I have learned chokes from many different instructors. It wasn’t until I heard a few very specific details about what a person’s neck feels like when you’re choking them that I grasped how to effectively execute a choke. These weren’t details that any other professor shared with me only my current instructor mentioned them.

Henry Akins has made a career of teaching “basic” techniques that we all know while incorporating certain details that are generally neglected. His seminars often are packed for this reason. Every single person from white to black belt potentially has techniques that they have focused on, if someone is teaching a technique pay attention, they may give you a detail that will allow you to execute that technique with greater efficiency and more often.

I’ll say that again: EVEN A WHITE BELT may have noticed a detail that you missed when learning a technique, and they may know something you don’t. I learned an excellent variation on the north south choke from a white belt, they learned it with a different grip set and in using that grip set they turn one of my defenses against the choke into an anchor point to tighten it further. Had I refused to listen to what this white belt had to say, had I said “I already know this move” I would have missed out on a fantastic detail, and in learning that detail I also learned what to be aware of when someone goes for that move, thus not only improving my attack but also my defense against that move.

Very often if I learn something new at a different school or at a seminar, or if I notice a detail for the first time, I “teach” it to my professor. I use the word “teach” lightly because the fact is he more often than not knows the details I am “showing” him, but when I “show” him something he very often has thoughts to further improve the details I’ve picked up.

The next time someone is showing a move you “already know”, pay close attention. The moment you think you “already know” something is the moment you can no longer improve upon it. Always looks to improve upon moves that are already part of your arsenal and you will become a stronger grappler and jiujiteiro.


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