The main way BJJ practitioners learn BJJ is through live training with an instructor leading the class. Video can be a powerful supplement to live training if utilized effectively. Unlocking the potential of studying BJJ through video lies in how you go about choosing what, who, and when to study videos.
Note: At the time of this writing, the COVID-19 pandemic is in full swing, causing many BJJ practitioners to completely halt their training. While videos do have power, using videos to learn brand new positions are best when coupled with live training (see Choosing what to do after studying).
Since we don’t yet have a way to download abilities a la The Matrix, a general recommendation during this time is to study videos to supplement positions you already know.
Choosing what to study
Video resources can be roughly separated into two types: Tutorials and rolling footage.
While the Feynman technique is helpful in testing the depth of your knowledge of a certain technique, position, etc., the below exercise can help find the connections between these seemingly disparate pieces.
Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other.
We can apply this idea to BJJ by trying to find the connections within – and between – these three broad categories:
How you train off the mats can be just as important as how you train on the mats. In addition to my note taking routine, I also do the following exercise when doing a monthly review or just looking to add new things to my game.
The Feynman technique
Named after Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, this technique has four simple steps:
- Get a sheet of paper and write the concept you’re trying to understand at the top.
- Explain the concept as if you were trying to teach it to someone who has never heard it before.
- When you get stuck, or find that your answers are lacking detail, go back to your source material for the answer.
(Credit: Ultralearning by Scott Young)
I’ve found that the Feynman technique can be easily applied to BJJ. For example, here is how I’ve used it when learning a new guard.
As I write this, Covid-19 has brought the world to all but a standstill. For those in the BJJ community, it has brought fear and frustration as gyms have closed and training as we used to know it has ceased for what will be an uncertain amount of time.
What can you do if you can’t train? If you can’t go to the gym, or if you don’t have a partner? This series of posts proposes some alternatives and supplements to popular advice circulating on the internet.
While this series has stemmed from the current situation, there will be more added with the intent that all of these posts may be found useful whenever you find yourself unable to go the gym to train.
Training without a gym contents:
- Feynman technique for BJJ – An overview of how to adapt a learning technique developed by Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman to deepen your BJJ understanding and focus your study
- 6 degrees – An application of the six degrees of separation idea to BJJ
- How to study BJJ videos – An in-depth article that provides a framework for deliberate study of BJJ video resources
- Pre-mortem – An application of the risk management strategy to BJJ; explores a light version (ex. reviewing just-learned technique) and in-depth version (ex. competition preparation)
Been a while! I’m thinking of changing the format for this into shorter “thought posts,” hopefully to be published every week or so. Feel free to give feedback in the comments!
Promotion is a curious word. I wonder if it was a conscious choice to use the word in regards to going up in the ranks.
A quick Google search gives two definitions. The second definition is the raising to a higher position, but it’s the first definition that makes me curious.
Google definitions “promotion”
BJJ is a community, and I’ve always been of the mindset that you can’t roll alone. So if we take this first definition of “promotion,” it’s not just for the sake of the person being promoted – it’s also for the sake of others not getting promoted (giving them encouragement and goals), for the community within the school (to bring people together in recognizing each other’s efforts), and the community outside the school as well (giving others a glimpse into life within the school and even encourage others to join).
Regardless of whether or not “promotion” was a conscious or unconscious choice of words, I think its continued use speaks volumes about the intricacies of the art…
April 2020: If you’re looking for more ideas on what to do when you can’t train BJJ normally, I recommend visiting the posts in my Training without a gym series. An overview of this series can be found at this post: Training without a gym: Introduction and contents
We all get pulled away from the mats at some point, sometimes through things like injury or sickness, other times by that all-too-demanding thing called life. While it can be beneficial to take some time off every now and then, being forced not to train can be aggravating.
For example, I fell seriously ill late last month and the whole ordeal has knocked off more than 3 weeks of training – and I have a competition scheduled next week. As my energy started to come back, it was a real fight to keep myself from jumping prematurely into training and triggering a relapse. I actually went to class earlier last week, but the next day I was hampered with lethargy and a runny nose – the equivalent of my body issuing a red flag warning.
Forced rest is boring at best, but in the past couple of weeks I’ve settled on 6 things to do when you can’t get on the mats – and I am willing to bet that you aren’t doing the last one. Continue reading