Jiu-Jitsu “No Talk” Learning Experiment

John B. Will in his book "Rogue Black Belt – Book 2" talked about paying attention when being taught a technique.  He said "Sometimes I pay such close attention that I don’t listen to what the instructor is saying.  I very, very closely observe what he is doing, and do not become over-reliant on what he is saying" [Rogue Black Belt – Book 2, pg. 69].  I myself have noticed that while watching BJJ videos I watch with different learning goals in mind.  The first time I watch I listen to the instructor.  After that I find the instruction annoying and want to just see the technique over and over so i can understand it.  So when my instructor, Mark, blogged about trying a experiment of teaching that nights class with minimal talk, I was interested.  Here is his post on the experiment: The Mental Game Ch1.  That night it was very different.  He did a step by step instruction on each technique but didn’t say much else.  He answered questions that were raised but didn’t go into long explanations.  Being a visual learner I loved it.  I felt I could focus more fully on what was being done.  In my day job it is very important to listen so that you can answer questions after.  I felt that I was giving partial focus to what was being said and what was being done.  When I gave full focus to what was being demonstrated, I learned better.  Mark tried teaching a more difficult defense against a head lock.  The class was mostly white belts.  I was of course practicing with my training partner and didn’t pay as much attention to the whole group as Mark did, but in the end he said, and I felt that the class had done much better in learning without the added talk.

Try the experiment at your school and let me know what your results are.

Steps to Memorizing a BJJ Technique For Mastery

I see new techniques every time I go to class.  Some really impress me and I remember them.  Some impress me and I forget them.  I’ve been looking for a way to commit them to memory so that I can work to master them.  But how should I go about it?  In John B. Will’s book "Rogue Black Belt – Book Two" he gives his method in 4 steps.  He says:

  1. "I pay very close attention"
  2. "I begin to develop understanding"
  3. "I practice it"
  4. "I’ve always taken notes"

Part of my problem is that I roll at the end of class and then drive home.  Some thing always distracts me and I don’t get that nights class into my BJJ Journal.  A day or so later I remember and try to write down what happened.  I forget or lose a lot of the details.  I am also a visual learner and my text descriptions don’t do the techniques justice.  I have thought about getting a video of each method after class and creating a video journal.  I noticed that my instructors BJJ Journal has excellent drawing of "crash dummy" type figures doing the moves.  That would require me to get some art skills.  What do you do to help memorize or internalize BJJ techniques you want to learn?

Book Review of “Rogue Black Belt – Book One” by John B. Will

Most of the books I read are technical in nature.  After reading excerpts from John B. Will’s "Rogue Black Belt – Book One" I decided to order "Book One" and see what came of it.  I like to read.  Every now and then I come across a book I just can’t put down until I finish it.  "Rogue Black Belt – Book One" is one of those books.  I just ordered "Book Two" and I will pick up "Book Three" as soon as it is ready.

What did I like about John’s book?  First of all he speaks from first hand experience.  This isn’t fiction he is writing, it is the unadulterated truth from his experiences.  John shares tales of his life, martial arts quest across Australia and Indonesia, street fights, and life lessons he learned along the way.  He uses Aussie vernacular to describe things that give his book a unique literary flavor.  By the time I had finished reading it (midnight of the night it arrived).  I admired his adventurous spirit, adaptability, and dedication.  I got a taste of what it would be like to be the one warrior in one hundred that he talks about in his book.  I recommend this book to anyone who wants to take their martial art skill above a sport level.  Street fighting as John points out is a different beast.  It isn’t the controlled sparring in the dojo.  I practice BJJ and love it.  I plan on re-reading John’s book and incorporating it into my mental training.  Thank you John for your candor and truth even when you were ashamed.