When I meet experienced blue belts and purple belts on the mat, they will observe a technique in class that they already know and use.
But there will be a single detail I show them that will cause a light bulb to go off suddenly.
“I’ve seen this technique before, but had poor success with it. I had never heard of that detail!”
One guy with more than five years of BJJ would closely observe a basic technique and suddenly— face palm! “So that’s why I could never get that technique in a tournament! I could get to the position, but never finish it.”
Have you ever uttered that phrase?
Every time I attend a seminar with a high level instructor I get a few of those moments. In hindsight, it seems so obvious. You may have been using the technique for years already.
Perhaps there are a few reasons for this phenomena.
1) You had heard the information before, but your brain was not ready to receive it. You may have been preoccupied with a different aspect of the position.
2) Your instructor had a different way of teaching the move that did not emphasize the detail that you needed. Often, black belts are doing certain things in techniques that have become second nature to them after thousands of hours on the mat. They may assume that you know you need to do this.
3) The incredible depth of jiu-jitsu. The so called basic techniques have layers of subtlety. These subtle details make the difference between the way a new blue belt and an old school black belt performs the same technique.
Jean-Jacques Machado had a great quote about how the better one becomes at jiu-jitsu, the less one uses. But in order to use fewer techniques, one must understand them on a deeper level.
Another point is that there is great value in learning the fundamentals of jiu-jitsu from a great instructor. They will instill the proper habits that will not have to be relearned years later. The higher quality instructor that you start with, the fewer of those face palm moments that you will have years later.