You Need Both Types Of Training

A new BJJ student was asking questions about private lessons.

“Should I take privates?” he said.

“Yes,” I responded. “If your budget allows, privates are a great way to get some concentrated focus on your game.”

He then started talking about how he would train with a World Champion every day if he won the lottery. Surely this would be the best possible way to learn BJJ, he thought. A world class black belt overseeing every move he made.

Actually, although this sounds like the fastest route to jiu-jitsu greatness, it isn’t. People also need some group classes for the optimal training. Let me explain.

At one extreme we have the wealthy student who has the resources to take private lessons every day with Rickson Gracie.

At the other end we have a garage training group who lack top level instruction but train hard and push each other every day. No shortage of tough rolls. Each extreme is lacking one of the key factors:

A) A solid level of technical information to establish sound fundamentals.
B) Adequate live rolling time with a variety of different training partners.

You may have the highest level of information available to you in your private sessions, but it will not become part of your game until you have time to drill it and try to make it work against different bodies in live sparring.

There is no substitute for mat time, and it is not even preferable to roll only with your instructors. They are not going to give you the openings and make the mistakes that lower level training partners will allow. You need some rolls with opponents closer to your level to provide the training situations to apply your new moves.

This is supplied by a group class with a wide variety of different body types and experience levels. It is not enough to understand the theory of the moves; you’ve got to roll and your body needs to learn it.

The B group have good training partners in abundance, and like many garage training groups they lock the doors and beat the heck out of each other. This breeds toughness for sure! But without the correct technical instruction, there can be large holes in their game.

You can’t teach what you don’t know and there may be a world of difference between a blue belt level of detail and understanding and a black belt level.

Not only might you be missing important details, but you may also be committing bad habits into muscle memory! It is critical early in your BJJ learning to get a solid foundation to build the more advanced positions upon.

Truth is, you need both elements in your training equation.


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