Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What Do You Remember?

What do you remember from your first year of training?

What were the hardest things to overcome? What techniques stood out to you as your "bread and butter"? What do you wish someone had told you when you first started? What would have made the process easier for you? What do you consider to be "foundational" techniques that every beginner should know?

I am trying to set priorities about what is the most important to teach a class of beginners. I am glad I have my blog, because I am going to read back over it and remember what it was like in the beginning. It has only been about 2 years (I will hit 2 years in August), but it seems like a lifetime ago because so many things have changed both in bjj and in my life outside of class.

Yesterday I somehow kicked my OWN finger. Hurt like a beast. How did I kick my own finger? I can't even recreate the scenario in my own memory! All I know if that I was passing guard and I somehow kicked my own hand. Super lame! This morning, the knuckle connecting to my hand is bruised and swollen. Now I have two gimp fingers. Both injuries are self inflicted!! lol Check out the most ghetto splint ever:

Also, my reputation for being rough and kicking or kneeing people in the face continues. It is becoming a regular joke. If I don't get this nonsense in check soon, not only will I have no fingers or willing training partners left, but I will also probably get a horrible nick name like Stephen Segal or something to boot!

This must end.

I may or may not show up to my next class with padded elbows and knees. But then, my body would probably betray me by switch to some other method of assault like head butts and heel kicks. Ugggh!!!


Unknown said...

Hey I feel the crazy injuries thing. My teammate jumped guard on my about a month ago and somehow slid into my kneecap... I have no idea how it happened but that simple technique put a hairline fracture in my knee, tore my meniscus, and damaged my acl/ mcl. So now I have to rehab before my knee is stron enough for surgery...

Worst part is it wasn't some crazy technique, some stupid irrational move just a complete accident. Keep going! You'll be fine!

Georgette said...


Off the top of my head first year favorites:

Guard passes (closed guard) were always from the knees, elbows tucked inside their thighs, grabbing pants at the hip/waist, using lower back to break their guard and then a knee through pass to side control.

I had nothing useful from closed guard, whatsoever, and hadn't even conceived of playing open guard. So I didn't play guard and endeavored to stay off my back.

Submissions: ezequiel or giftwrap chokes from mount; americana from side control or mount.

Jiujitsunista said...

Honestly, what I remember the most is my utter and complete lack of ability to do forward rolls.... or rolls of any kind. lol

I will think more on the matter and talk to your face about it... since you know... I see you every day. hehe

Jiujitsunista said...

Also.. I just thought I would mention that my last word verification was "phatso" Thanks, blogger... Thanks.

Afrorican said...

Remaining calm and breathing.

I wish I had been better at bridging and shrimping from the start. Most schools will shrimp during warm up but people do it as a warm up and not understanding / visualizing why they are doing this fundamental movement.

I was big darce / brabo guy because I have long arms. Liked using it from top half guard both for subs and to help pass to side control.

Anonymous said...

@ Navitas, One of my instructors didn't allow white belts to jump guard for exactly that reason. Crazy technique is relative.

@Allie. I don't remember much from my first year besides being squashed in side control. Nothing clicked until year 3.

Megan said...

Allie, I'm glad I'm not the only one out there hurting myself.

First year...I remember how great everybody was. I wish someone had told me that bottom positions might not be the best places for beginners, so get ready to move. I developed a habit of trying to get into familiar positions, and have had to re-teach myself to fight for top.

Hardest thing was the endurance. If I hadn't had a problem with that, learning might have been easier.

Triangles and spider guard. I love...still not "good" with them, but they're naturally good for me and just having instructors TELL me I'd eventually be great with them has been great motivation.

I think every beginner should get a print out of the break down of all the positions. Seeing that helped me IMMENSELY.

Aaron Bair said...

Allie, I have been reading your blog for several months now and look forward to each posting. I am 7 months into training and the biggest issue with me was getting dominated as a white belt and trying to use strength to get out of tight spots and getting frustrated and wanting to quit.
There are at least 101 things that could be listed that make people feel uncomfortable about jiu jitsu. Anyways, you have and some others have inspired me to create my own blog.

Keep it coming and good luck with your class.

Ashley said...

Wait, so both you and Stephanie have injured fingers? Oh dear!

The hardest things for me to overcome were more emotional: trusting that I am capable, not being afraid to be "mean", not getting down on myself because things weren't effective the first few (hundred) times I used them, not getting really frustrated with myself from straight up sucking so much, etc.

The most useful thing someone taught me when I was first starting was to think about flowing between positions. I have never been particularly submission crazy, so this was awesome for me and started building my basic understanding of BJJ.

I agree with Megan that having something written out would have helped a lot. I think something similar to, but more streamlined than, Stephen Kesting's Beginning BJJ would have been handy. I stumbled upon his PDF a little late.

Liam H Wandi said...

First of all, kicking your own finger? That's just so...funny! Every gym should have an Allie :)

As for the fundamentals to teach, I believe people have covered mostly everything technique wise.

I try to explain to peolpe EVERY class how to LEARN what I'm showing, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone else do that. Cane came up with the genius 3P model, so maybe he does, but I've never met Cane in person (one day, I hope!)

The most important things to show a beginner, IMO, are:

1. How to ensure their own and their partners' safety: It's easier said than done (stay safe guys!). Instead, I give very drill specific advice. Here is a few ideas:

-when learning a transition (escape, guard pass, sweep, mounting from side...etc.) then you need to realise you are in charge of your own and the opponent's safety. Don't land on them, don't disconnect from them and then reconnect. Don't knee them in the face(hahaha)
-when learning a submission, be aware of what every part of your body is doing (not just the arms that are controlling the armbar, but also the legs that are controlling the head!)
-when drilling or rolling, be fully aware of the room (walls, concrete, other partners...etc.). I say this at least 4-5 times EVERY session: "You must be very careful and aware of people around you so you must know where your next move will land you"

2. How to Learn: For every segment, I tell people:

-which posture they start from
-which pressures are gonna come at them and which ones they can generate

Here, I let them play a little. For example, Get in my closed guard. Get a nice wide base and put your arms, spine and head in the best possible place to stop me from sitting up or breaking you down. Let's give it a go at 50% (keeping in mind the first rule of safety above).

After a few minutes, I ask them: "Do you see how that can open up some scenarios?"

Then, I give them the scenario(s) that I had decided to show for that day. To carry on from the above: "Once you are safe and they can't break you down, put a knee under their hip, angle your body and use your arm to channel your body weight onto their leg to open the guard" or whatever.

3. How to enjoy BJJ, even when the going is hard: The way I see it, there is no reason to ever do BJJ, or anything else, if you are not enjoying it. If I create an environment where the learners feel safe (point one) and feel that this is something they can learn progressively and apply themselves to like a chess game (point two) then I allow them to have fun with it. I facilitate a fun and enjoyable learning environment, something many people (adults especially) haven't had in years or maybe ever.

To sum all these in one uber corny point: "Make every session you spend with them a gift. You are giving someone a great gift. A beautiful gift. The gift of spending time and energy with them and the gift of something (game, sport, art, lifestyle...etc.) they can take and make their own. A good gift deserves research, presentation, beautiful packaging, safety and should give joy and enjoyment". Do this EVERY session and it will be the greatest time for all envolved.

Without this, the material is irrelevant, coz they ain't gonna enjoy it or stick with it :).

That aside, the material should revolve around these areas:

1. Mount bottom - safety and escapes
2. Mount top - maintenance and 1 (optional) sub
3. Taking the back from mount and keeping the back
4. Closed Guard - how to break their posture and the different gi and no gi grips
5. Closed Guard - 1 sweep and 1 submission
6. Inside the closed guard - how to stay safe and how to open it and one pass (double under is a good one, but up to you)
7. Side control top - how to maintain and how to mount
8. Side control bottom - safety and escapes

This is the bare minimum. If you spend 2 sessions on each theme then repeat the cycle you will have an awesome core curriculum :)

A.D. McClish said...

Thanks for all the input, guys!! I am trying to sort out what order of priority all of these things should go in. Since it is being called a self-defense class, I think I am going to focus a lot on escapes and establishing positions of control, and showing them how to get a few of the same types of submissions from different places. Thanks again for all of your advice!!