haphazard learning

I teach a few people on the weekends and there are those in my class who have had over a year to almost two years of training. But you wouldn't be able to tell by the way they roll.

They were never instructed in a structured manner or even had a real curriculum. Rather, on their first day, they learned a 2 subs and then had to roll with the best in the class. Every class would be about 2 moves. None related to the ones before.

I think that this is a horrible way to learn and excel. They should've been taught the basics on the first day. Control and escaping from positions should've been the first six months of their training. I teach these guys the very basics and they love it. It ties all of the submissions and techniques they learned over their 2 years.

I think this happens very frequently. Even for me, I was thrown into the mix from day one and never really learned the fundamentals from my instructor. Here I was learning a few sweeps and a couple submissions from the guard w/o being able to control anyone past a white belt in my guard. I learned all my fundamentals from a purple belt when I was a white belt.

In our school the beginners typically get a few classes of being taught separately from everyone else then they get thrown in the mix. Our school however stresses the basics heavily so I believe the initial few classes are enough for them to spar with everyone else.

Mmm... I don't know.

One thing that attracted me to BJJ was the fact there there most definately no "right way" of doing anything. Rather than being taught to "do it like this" it was more of a case of "you're doing okay as long as you're not doing x". Maybe it has something to do with my background, but I really took to that teaching style.

When I am teaching I try and provide the student with only three things to remember: those three things are the foundation to whatever the move/technique etc is. I find that way if the person is trying to recall the lesson, then already they've got a hint as to how many steps there are (i.e. 3) and it helps me get organised in my own thoughts.

An example of the three points I teach - when teaching how to survive in someone's closed guard I tell them:

1. Don't cross you arms across their centre line;
2. Don't put your arm/hand behind your back; and
3. Don't straighten your arms.

Then I let them go for broke.

The only times I've been taught basics in BJJ is when some higher belt (or a near blue) takes pity on me and takes time off from kicking my ass to tell me not to do something stupid. That and videos.

I am continuing the tradition. If some newbie looks too lost, I will go and tell him stuff when I spar with him. I think you're kind of expected to learn basics either from your seniors or from privates.

I think a general structure curriculum is important. Where you get that from may vary (teacher, peers, videos). But as long as you get during some point in your training experience (ideally sooner instead of later).

I'm a big believer in the training partner buddy system. I think in most sports and physical activities students learn more from their peers than from their teachers. I think this is because the student essentially spends more time with their peers than the teacher.

I think having someone who is your peer but more experience than you definitely will help you to not only learn and understand the techniques and the "game" of the artform fast BUT it also helps you to better refine and develop your skills in the artform.

The key is to develop a relationship with your peers (the experienced ones) where they take a vested interest in you and developing your skills. If they help you they help themselves because the better you get the more you can challenge them and the more you challenge them the better they get.

I always think it is a shame to be involve in an activity, to get time and energy to it and not improve. 2 years of training and STILL be at the same level you were when you first started two years earlier is truly sad and a demostration of wasting time. The whole purpose behind practicing/training is to make progress, to get better not to stay the same.

Our school started a Basics class a couple of months ago and it has become a great addition. We had so many new guys that weren't getting all they needed to put things together.

The basics class is taught by a senior blue belt (the other blues often come early and help out) and stresses the exact techniques in our white to blue curriculum(we are a Pedro Sauer Affiliate).

The basics class is 1 hr before the regular class and everyone stays over for the regular class. The white belts have caught fire lately so we can see the progress