The Delicate Science of Learning

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A question was recently posed to me that I think a lot of us struggle with for different reasons:

“How can I remember all the techniques i learn in Jiu-Jitsu?”

This isn’t easy.  This isn’t trivial.  There are plenty of possible answers all or none of which may help you.

One coach that I’ve worked with in the past always suggests bringing a notebook to class with which to take notes.  If you are the kind of person who can take effective notes on the fly, this will allow you to document step by step procedure for moves that you learn.  Ultimately this depends on how well you take notes.  I personally take terrible notes when training, I’ve tried to take notes many times, and it rarely if ever helped me.  I have other methods to learn moves.

Drilling is key to move internalization.  If immediately after learning a new move you drill it a couple of hundred times, try it during rolling, and then drill it before class for the next couple of weeks chances are that move will make its way into your repertoire.

We live in a modern time in which we all have cameras available, when possible and desirable consider recording video of new moves.  Some instructors are not okay with their material being recorded, always ask especially before pointing a camera at another person.  Every private lesson I’ve ever done has been recorded in some way.  One instructor insisted on being behind the camera, another allowed the entire session to be recorded, it really depends.

Learn concepts, not moves.  So many people like learning neat new moves instead of the overarching concepts that make the moves work.  A conceptual learner has a much better chance of internalizing new moves and setting up new chains of moves than someone learning the individual moves.  It’s like math: if you learn the derivation of an equation rather than having to memorize that equation your chances of remembering and being able to use it on the fly are much better.

Everyone learns differently.  Sometimes you have to come to terms with the fact that you may not be able to internalize everything you learn the first time you learn it.  There will come a day when you’re rolling and you find yourself using some really cool moves that you don’t remember learning.  A big part of our learning process is diffusive, that is to say we kind of absorb/internalize stuff without even actively or consciously trying to do so.

The best way to not forget moves is to relearn them regularly.  When possible, learn moves you already think you know from new instructors with whom you don’t normally train (you know, when you visit other schools.)  I’ve learned so many awesome details just by learning from and rolling with instructors who I don’t see often.  They do the same moves with different details, and those details can become part of my game.

Jiu Jitsu will teach you new methods of learning.

For anyone out there who has struggled/contended with this problem, is there anything I missed?  Any method of learning that particularly helps you?  Of the methods I’ve listed which do you like the best?


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