Ecological training

I can’t see a thread about this so wanted to have a conversation about it in a much more grown up way than would ever be possible on Reddit.

What are people’s thoughts on this approach to training and learning and more importantly what are peoples experiences with it?

I’m just starting to try and take in some of the principles to the approach and can see the merits of this method, although also see a lot of difficulties and challenges. Here are some helpful videos that give a good overview of the way the classes are structured and their IG page has a few other examples of the games they incorporate into their practices:

I Went To A Gym That Never Drills

Standard Jiu Jitsu - Foundations Class

Standard Jiu Jitsu - All Levels Class

The Mounted Armlock: A Standard Approach

The second link is the same as the first. I wanted to see how this works with whitebelts. I can see this working for blue belts and up as it’s not that different from positional sparring, but in a large class with lots of different levels, I have a hard time figuring out how this will work.


It might be helpful to clarify what is meant by “ecological training” as I’ve heard some folks who rigidly define it as no teaching of techniques ever vs folks who will teach technique but then incorporate games to develop techniques and everything in between.

sidebar: I’ll expose my ignorance, but the way it was initially explained to me, “ecological training” was born out of a study on blacksmithing, specifically the most efficient way to swing a hammer.

The conclusion was there was so much variation that an efficient hammer swing could not be precisely defined. Ergo, “hammer swing” technique is not something that can be taught, but only discovered by the person swinging the hammer.

Intellectually, that seems to me like a bridge too far. While two people may not swing a hammer identically, there certainly are inefficient/ineffective ways of swinging a hammer.

Then again, I may not know what I’m talking about.


To overcome the stickiness of traditional approaches to skill learning, we propose that, in order to reframe the relationship of learning and performing, we need to consider the concept of skill in a new way, one where skilled regulation of action is actually distributed over the person-environment system (Gibson, 1979). Here, we have argued that we need to move away from the separation of learning and performing in a cyclical fashion to a more integrative approach where learning environments are designed based on a much more careful and detailed sampling of the performance environment in order to contextualise learning. In this paper, we have shown why it is no longer acceptable to merely repeat and rehearse a movement technique in isolated drills that lack meaning, value and context. This approach to practice and performance preparation, which is central to an ecological dynamics approach to skill acquisition, enables the process of learning to lead to the emergence of highly functional perception-action couplings in athletes. Essentially, we have re-iterated how (far) transfer from practice to performance will be much stronger by adopting the ideas of representative learning design, where key information sources, essential to the way individuals play/perform in games and competitions, is ‘designed-in’ to practice tasks.

Thanks for the heads up. I’ve just edited it with the correct link :+1:

I’m going through and listening to a lot of the podcasts he does and trying to make notes around how I see the key concepts.

He’s really clear that he doesn’t give explicit instructions and a lot of it is worked through via self organisation. Practice design is the key here it seems and I think the mounted armlock video shows that. I’m keen to try and work through some of the concepts with newbies with an open mind and see how the self organisation actually occurs in real time.

A lot of people say it’s just positional sparring but I think it does a level deeper than that because to me it’s a bit more micro task focused with games that work back from the intended outcome.

He’s doing a seminar that I’m attending in a month so I’ll get to learn and experience it all first hand.



I don’t want to put an exact definition to it at the moment as I’m still studying exactly what it is and how it should be defined.

In this context I do take it to mean minimal/no instruction though, with the learning being done through self organisation.

This is where Souders seems to separate what he does from other tools such as Kit Dale’s Task Based Games which Souders acknowledges as helpful but not as ecologically sound.

The science direct article is a super helpful so thank you for linking that

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I would be very interested in a seminar review.

When we do positional sparring, I set rules to determine when to reset the position, typically I just say reset if someone scores. It really is not that different than what was being shown in the second link. That said, he does have interesting ideas and yes the rules of the games seem more elaborate. But I also don’t see the harm in showing the technique and the correct way to do stuff vs completely letting them figure it out. Why not both?

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I prefer training indoors


When someone wins a major tournament using this method only I’ll look into it more.

Other than that, it’s just the newest fad to hit the BJJ scene. Happens every couple of years.


This shit tells me that these dorks have never played a sport in their lives. NOWHERE in athletics does this approach work. Professional sports in the US is a multi billion dollar business and some 35yr old brown belt who took 3rd at Grappling Industries thinks he has outsmarted the game? Ok, player.

Personally I prefer to follow the blue print that has proven to produce countless world champions year after year……but that’s just me


Here’s a more concrete example (or at least I think it is) of what we are discussing.

I used this exact same answer when I was asked about this “system” recently. No sport that I have ever played teaches like this…It’s just not a thing. I blame Danaher and his style of teaching and his way of explaining techniques. So now the new “coaches” trying to speak like him and seem smarter than they are. And people who don’t want to put the work or years in and look for a short cut…eat this up.


Look at the dorks in the training video examples he posts. It’s two dweebs fucking around trying to figure shit out. I’ve seen local academies in my area post videos of their students training and bragging about “we use ecological method”, like anyone outside their little dorkdom knows wtf that means.

These videos are horrendous. They remind me of watching “flow rolling”, which I also despise. Sloppy made up shit


I have similar thoughts. The games seem fine, but why not take a couple of minutes to explain and teach the armbar/arm lock from mount and then play the game?


Positional training is the best thing you can do to progress, but there needs to be understanding of the position. You can put two advanced guys who know and have a complete understanding of techniques into these specific training scenarios and allow them to deal with the variables, but putting the types of guys he uses in his video examples in these same scenarios is a waste of their time. If something doesn’t work, they have no idea why. If something does work, they still have no idea why.


This bullshit is the biggest scam since AMWAY.
Only the ADHD generation would fall for this crap.


I’m really confused with a part of this(I’m pretty dumb and always confused so nothing new) but he’s not showing how to do a technique at all?

So I just put a white belt in spider web and tell him to finish the armbar in a game when the dude doesn’t even understand the basic mechanics of the sub??

This sounds dumb


These tards believe drilling and repping technique is a waste of time. That right there tells me they have zero athletic experience of any kind.
My understanding is that they will start in these very specific scenarios and be given specific goals (see video) without further explanation. Somehow they are then to figure out the appropriate technique.

Most retarded shit ever.


That gym has been around for 10 years and has produced nobody.
They’ve inherited a couple guys that were already very successful in competition before landing there. And their coach hangs on by their nuts-claiming success of this stupid system.
It’s a con. And idiots fall for it.


I mean i can see how it can help out a seasoned grappler if you dedicate at least a couple training sessions a week like this, but for a straight beginner?? Makes no sense. Even today i have to go through the motions of a completely new tech a dozen times before i can work out what i need to really be doing.

I can get away with a new entry or something similar to something i use on blue and purple belts but i already grasp the basics and mechanics of the base tech or movements.

But if you want a fat guy like me to learn to bolo there is no way in hell a game from dlr is going to instinctually guide me into that tech when i don’t play dlr lol

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