Saturday, December 5, 2009

Small Victories

We worked some basic scissor sweeps this morning, which was great. I haven't been shown a scissor sweep since my second or third class and I saw a lot of things today that I had been doing wrong.

It's funny because Ben (our Saturday morning instructor) was telling us that Fabio's style is to show us one or two moves with a bunch of variations each class. For example, we worked the scissor sweep all class long, but we did scissor sweep to an arm-bar, scissor sweep to taking the back, scissor sweep to inverted arm-bar, scissor sweep to arm bar to omaplata or triangle. Lots of information.

Even though our instructors know we only retain about 10% of the stuff they shows us, they keep on going, knowing that we'll see those moves again later down the road. The longer we go to class and the more times we see those moves (at different points in our BJJ development) the more we will pick up. As it is, what little we do retain gives us a bigger arsenal than would a class that focused only on teaching the basics until they we had them down.

What do you guys think about that strategy? Do your schools do it differently?

Grappling today went really well. I'm going through one of those spurts where I'm finally able to incorporate some things that I've been working on for a while. Today, my victory was something small. I was finally able to sweep a guy who outweighs me by 80 lbs. For me, that was huge. I've been trying really hard to work on not staying in guard or half-guard the whole time and I'm finally starting to see some improvement in that area. Instead of falling into guard when I'm in trouble, I get to my knees and stay neutral. Instead of sitting in half-guard, I'm aggressively looking to sweep or take the back. And when I do find myself in guard--which I still feel the most confident in--I look for sweeps and sometimes get them.

When I grapple with guys who are bigger than me (which is about 80% of the time) I still end up on my back a lot of the time. But I'm still happy to see some small sign that I'm moving forward.


BJJ Cailín said...

Sounds like you are making good adjustments in your game. You only get better by forcing yourself to work on your weaknesses even when you mess up - you still improve. Good for you!

We have a slightly different strategy. In our basics class we won't usually get past 3 techniques in an hour and we focus on position & movement in understanding concepts and less on "moves". In the advanced class when you have a good base of technique and knowledge and are better able to process multiple new ideas, you might see a lot of "moves" in relation to a specific position or concept that the instructor wants you to understand. Or we might spend the whole class on one thing. Just depends.

It's just one of many theories on how to progress faster.

slideyfoot said...

There are people I respect who use the technique overload approach, but personally I think it's inefficient. To me, it seems much more sensible to try and make sure that your class remembers as close to 100% as possible.

The way to do that is teach a lesson where everything is connected, right from the start. You should also teach no more than three techniques, like Cailín said (and given her instructor is Ryan Hall, I'd assume the classes are carefully structured).

For example, say the class is going to be on guard. The warm-up could consist of directly relevant movements, like standing up in guard as a drill in pairs, along with something like sit-up sweeps (which also works your abs).

The technique might then be something like how to open the guard, followed by a pass. You could then move on to a sit-up sweep.

After drilling those, specific sparring from guard. Because you've covered both passing and sweeping, each person has something to go for.

Class finishes with free sparring, but perhaps starting from guard, to further emphasise what you're trying to teach.

You'd then also be set for your next class (ideally keeping the same theme for the whole week or longer), where you could follow up the sit-up sweep with moving into a kimura from guard, and add in another pass.

In addition, you could keep on adding drills into the warm-up along with those techniques. For example, going through the motions of a cross choke instead of a normal sit-up, or passing open guard to knee-on-belly in a cyclical drill.

The best classes I've had in that meticulously organised vein have all been taught by non-black belts, strangely enough. A John Will blue belt, Rich Green, is excellent at structuring his classes, and I also like the format used by my current instructor, Kev Capel, as he almost always includes both offence and defence.

A.D. McClish said...

@ Cailin: That seems like a solid way to do class. Sometimes our instructors only show two moves. Sometimes they show us four or five moves that are related. I will be honest. There are times that I leave a lesson forgetting half of what I saw, but I usually see that technique again either in another drill or when a higher belt uses it on me during a grapple! ;)

We don't have a beginner class at all at our school. People who come on the first day are shown an arm bar, a rear naked choke and a kimura. Then they roll with people who help them learn what the dominant positions are and probably how to pass guard. After that, they come and learn the same things as everyone else. Our instructors obviously spend extra time with them and for a long time when they roll, people will help them learn during grappling.

The advantage of that, from my perspective, is that they are exposed to a wide range of things early on and get to grapple with people of all different skill levels who each present a different range of challenges. But then, I've never been to any other school so I don't know if it would be more advantageous to start out in a beginner course before getting thrown to the wolves, er, I mean higher belts. ;)

@ slideyfoot: It's funny you should say that about the instructors who are not black belts being more organized in their approach. I attend two different schools, one that is a shoot-off school where the instructors attend the parent school (which I also go). The instructors at the shoot off school are a brown belt and a blue belt, and they run their class almost exactly like you described. Even so, I still find that I don't retain everything I see. I guess I'm just slow! Fabio, who runs the parent school, may show us three unrelated techniques or one technique with a bunch of variations. It just depends. I get a lot out of both structures. Honestly, I probably retain about the same amount of information...which is minimal. ;)

BJJ Cailín said...

I wouldn't worry too much about the amount of specific moves you are retaining after each class. It's pretty much information overload for at least the first 6-12 months no matter what you do. Lol!

Just keep at it!

A.D. McClish said...

Thanks, Cailin! :)

jo said...

We do it like you do Cailin but our place is small and also doesn't have a beginners class. I would have liked some focused beginners instruction on the basics of positions.

Georgette said...

I have to admit, I need to see things about 5 times before they click. Not just 5 times in one class, or one day or week... but five separate times-- sometimes this means months apart or however long it takes for that move to come up again in random rotation.

Josh Lauber, a brown belt in our sister academy in San Antonio, just told me yesterday that you have to learn 80% of the move before you can learn the last 20% of it. Makes sense.

A.D. McClish said...

@ Jo: I think that may be one of the reasons why we don't have a beginners class too.

@ Georgette: That makes a lot of sense. I felt like I was really slow because there are still things about all my basic moves that I need to be tweaked. A few weeks ago, I had to be re-shown how to do part of a gi choke because I was moving my elbows the wrong way. Trying and failing to finish that choke made the correction sink in all the more.