On behalf of jonpall - a question

Since jonpall is stumped for a question to ask today, I'll ask one in his place:

What is your method for learning a technique?

Do you simply watch it performed and then try it with a partner several times? What do you think is the best way to have the technique "sink in" so that it becomes second nature?

At Rey's and Rodrigo Medeiros' seminar this weekend, Rodrigo said that he felt the best way was to practice the technique, then try it out against white belts. When it works consistently against white belts, move on to blue. When you are pulling it off every time against blues, try it on purples, and so on...

Hahahaha. :)

Ok, off the top of my head,

one way is to begin by simply doing some repetitions of the technique, without any resistance.

Then it has worked well for me to do the technique several times and tell my training partner to apply VERY slight resistance by JUST moving around a bit. By moving around, I mean moving his head, moving his arms, his legs and the rest, up and down, left and right, in circles - just randomly, and not too fast and not too hard. For advanced guys, the resistance should be "upped" a bit.

When you practise like this, you start to understand why you must do this and that during the technique. For example, if a beginner is practising a guard pass technique against a non-resisting opponent, he might not get why he needs to apply forwards pressure during the pass. But as soon as the bottom guy starts to move around a bit, the top guy, i.e. the beginner, will understand that if he doesn't apply forwards pressure when he passes, the bottom guy can too easily shrimp his hips away and then the top guy ends up with a not-so-secure side mount or just back in the guard or gets double legged onto his back. You don't want to find this out in sparring because then things are going on much more intensely and you might not figure out then what you did wrong.

Then you must obviously try it out in sparring.

After the training session go home and ask yourself what you did right and what you did not so right.

Rep it when you learn it. Then immediately try it the first night in sparring, even though everyone else might know it. You've got to try to adapt it to live while its still fresh in your mind.

Erik Paulson says "TRIG"

Technique, Repetition, Isolation, Grappling

First you learn the technique and how to do it properly

Then you repeat it until it is ingrained

Then you isolate it in sparring. For example, if it is an armbar escape you repeatedly let people get you in the armbar and then try to use the technique to escape it.

Then you are ready to include it in your Grappling arsenal

Stephan Kesting

I like that answer. I find that a good mix of high reps without resistance (to build good mechanics and awareness) and high reps in isolated drilling make for a technique that I can pull off well when rolling.

Goooooood times.

I find the best thing to do is what andre quoted Rodrigo as saying. Try it out repeatedly in sparring against someone I'm better than, without telling them.

That's also what I read Nino does, in some interview
or other. I think it is a good method.

Sometimes I'll learn a move, forget it, and then bust
it out during sparring two months later.


Grapplearts' Kesting (exjudoka) has a great article posted at his site written by "C" from whitebelt.org. In a nutshell, it talks about various learning styles including visual, auditory and kinesthetic.


the last style kinesthetic/tactile described me to a 't'. i would find myself in class positioning my body and going thru the motion while my instructor was explaining. had to stop, though because he finds it distracting. half the time, i don't even remember the explanations. i have to get on the mat and drill it for muscle memory.

I don't like dead reps with a non-resistant partner very much at all--not even for a completely new technique.

What I use is targeted resistance. I target each of the key movements in a technique with one specific type of resistance. The resistance provides immediate feedback and guides (forces) me to do the movements correctly.

Let's say we've got two people who are partnering each other, we'll call them White and Blue. White is the is teaching Blue a technique that has three key movements. White first explains the key movements, very briefly, and then they start to do repetitions.

For the sake of our example, we'll say the first key point involves Blue keeping his elbow in-tight to his own body. As Blue goes through the technique and gets to that first key motion, White grabs Blue's wrist and tries to pull it away from Blue's body. White tugs on the arm repeatedly to reinforce Blue's tactile sense of keeping the elbow in.

Blue then continues on with the technique and White uses similarly targeted resistance for each of the remaining two key points. At each step Blue encounters resistance that is specifically geared to reinforce proper form.

After practicing this way, players begin moving correctly because they can FEEL the need to do so. This is in sharp contrast to dead repetition (no-resistance) where you're doing the moves, essentially, just because someone told you to.
What really teaches a child to avoid fire, a parent telling them "don't touch" or the experience of getting a finger burned? We all learn more quickly and deeply when we have direct experience. In the end you don't really learn to keep your elbows in because your coach once told you to, you learn to keep your elbows in because you keep getting armbarred until you do. A coaches words are only starting points, in-and-of-themselves they don't create skill. Your experiences create your skills.

An inherent advantage of targeted resistance is that players get a strong sense of WHY they must do each movement in a certain way. It happens almost automatically as good coaches will choose types of resistance that correspond directly to escapes or counters that players will face in real competition. For example, I didn't really learn to keep my legs tight when going an armbar from the guard until someone repeatedly escaped my lock by pulling their elbow out. Their counter taught me that particular key to a good armbar.


Regardless of whether I'm working with beginners or experienced players, if I'm teaching something they haven't seen before I always start with targeted resistance. It took me a while to get away from using dead reps but once I saw the results (increased rate of learning, increased comprehension, and a lot more fun) I never doubted that targeted resistance was the way to go. The only thing I really use dead reps for anymore is warm-ups and the occasional experiment with potentially dangerous techniques.

I'd appreciate feedback...




Rodrigo is correct. i have heard this same advice from the guys who know their shit.

i usually have beginners do a drill/technique w/ 0% resistance from the other partner... rep 5-10 times till they get the movement down. i then have the partner give 25% resistance (gradually increase if you wish)... after that, i'll make it a point ot roll w/ them and put myself in positions for them to work that technique. i resist a bit but i let them work on it, and i flow out and continue to techniques taught in the past to them and see if they can remember or pull it off... flowing is best w/ a tutorial as we roll as to where to put hands, weight, posture, base, etc etc.