You Need To Be A Self Learner

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After rolling, many ideas and stories about BJJ are exchanged between instructor and training partners. This is one of the best parts of our experience of going to the jiu-jitsu academy.

Talking to a few experienced blue belts who are working towards the goal of purple belt (the belt that some say shows that you are really serious about BJJ!), we were talking about what they should be working on.

I gave the opinion that at their level of experience, four to five years, that they should be mostly self-directed in their training. They should be teaching themselves largely, with the instructor offering a tweak here and a tip there.

They expressed surprise at my minimizing the primary role that their BJJ instructor would be playing in their later development.

I explained “By now, you guys don’t need any more new moves. There are no longer any revolutionary moves that you have never seen before that are going to significantly change your game.”

For those seminal first two years of BJJ, the students are primarily building a vocabulary of individual moves. Learning techniques to employ in specific positions and situations in a match.

After four to five years on the mats, you’ve seen the vast majority of the individual techniques you need to know to be a black belt. You are less dependent on your instructor to directly teach you new moves in class.

I asked one of the blue belts about his study of back mount who had spent several months focusing only on the back mount and it was by far his best position.
Now that he had gained a respectable level of skill in one area or position in jiu-jitsu, he had a model for how to learn other positions that he was interested in adding to his game.

I reminded him how he had approached learning the back position. The blueprint for his learning back mount looked something like this:

1) How to control the position
2) The primary attacks from rear mount
3) How his opponent would escape and counter his primary techniques
4) How he would recounter and follow up attack or transition in reaction to his opponents defense
5) Study some of the complementary positions that connect well with rear mount e.g the crucifix.
Now, he has a pretty model by which he can structure his training when wanted to move on to study another position like lasso guard or knee-on-belly.
I added that another super important method forself-directedd learning was to work together with a training partner to experiment and deconstruct the specific techniques.
Example : You get a seat belt rear mount and ask your training partner to try to escape. “Does it feel tighter when I grip like this or like this?” Ask them to try those grip variations on you and try to escape. Which felt like the superior control? You get instant feedback on the details of the position.
In fact, you will learn things with these little experiments that your instructor can’t directly teach you. Your instructor can’t say “Move your grip two inches and apply pressure at an angle 23 degrees clockwise.” You need to feel these things and get feedback from your training partner. A solid training partner is invaluable.
Of cours,e you will continue to learn from your instructor and other sources. The point is to take a more active role in your learning once you have some experience.
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