Off the mat learning - part 2


The topic of this series of articles is off the mat learning for "time poor" jits enthusiasts.  Previously I outlined the different methods I use to retain knowledge that I learn in class and put it into practice (something we all struggle with).

This article follows on from my first article, I suggest you read that before diving into this or it isn't going to make a great deal of sense.  In this article, I am going to talk about how to apply the methods from the first article to recorded material (On the screen) and revising techniques off the mat (Off the mat).  It is a relatively short article compared to the last one.  

On the screen

The process I described in the first article is a lot easier to apply to video media.  At its core the method still uses visualization to get the technique into your head and the way you analyse and breakdown each technique remains the same i.e. Cane Prevost's 3Ps methodology.  What changes is that you have the luxury of time and the opportunity to pause and replay the subtle transitions that are shown.  This is great because you can observe how the expert uses their limbs and body to execute the technique.  The downside of this method is that you can’t feel it.  Feeling the technique is so important because you understand the motion and forces required to pull it off – you can’t get that from video!

A word of warning about learning through video.  There is a lot of (for the want of a better phrase) useless shite out there.  There are a few simple questions you can ask before you spend time analysing and experimenting though.  First off, how credible is the source?  If it is Johnny McNob-Head doing stuff with his best mate Tarquin in his mum's basement – ignore it.  If it is a famous competitor or instructor e.g. Marcelo Garcia, John Danaher; you’re probably good to go (although just because someone is good at what they do doesn’t mean they can teach).

Secondly, do you think it would work for you?  Does it have a lot of steps required to make it work?  Does it fit with your body type, rolling style and age?  Is it a core movement or some flashy shit?  The best techniques are simple in my opinion, when you start pressure testing them in a roll if they have 10+ steps to get right pulling them off is going to be an ask.
Thirdly, when I research a technique it is usually with a specific problem in mind.  For example escaping turtle.  I try to look for common themes amongst credible sources.  In other words which famous guys are doing the same thing or a close variation of it to escape turtle? 

Finally, there is a lot of good material out there for free.  It does not necessarily have to be a technique instructional on YouTube or Facebook.  Competition footage is an obvious one, watch your role model in matches, pause, rewind and look at what they are doing.  There is an annoying trend in BJJ instructionals that markets everything as a “system” be wary of this.  Some of these “systems” are no more than an arbitrary collection of techniques that work for a competitor.  A true system will give you a prescription of techniques that you can use and vary based on your opponent's response.  There are no perfect systems… (trust me, I work in IT).  The best instructionals teach you fundamentals and explain "the why" a technique works.  There comes a point in everyone's journey that you begin to get a feel for common principles, fundamentals, basics; call them what you will.  Learning to do this early will accelerate your game.

Off the mat

At the start of these articles, I said that the hobbyist is “time-poor” this is true when you think of time that they can spend on the mat.  It is not true when it comes to time available to visualize and re-read your notes. 

This part of my approach is very simple and quite effective (I know I am not the first person to think of it).  The best example is my commute to and from work, it takes me over an hour.  This time could be “dead time” if I sat there and did nothing, instead I visualize the technique of the day or whatever I am practicing now.  I simply try and recall the steps and see myself performing the technique. 

Anything I can’t remember; I refer back to my notebook and update the memory in my head (when I am not driving).

It is that simple, you can use it anywhere at any time e.g. meetings at work, on the thunderbox.  I find the more I do it (especially on the thunderbox), the more easily my memory recalls the technique.  This is what locks it into my long term memory making it easier to test during sparring.


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