1)Gracie Barra Curriculum
The model for teaching classes in many bjj academies is after a warmup of varying levels of duration and intensity and then the instructor chooses a random set of techniques and everyone drills that day’s movements.
The subject matter of the classes I have taught previously, may have been inspired by a Youtube video of an interesting position that I saw, a submission that was successful in the last UFC or something that I have been hitting often in rolling that I want to share with the students.
While all of these may make for interesting classes, it may not be the best method for the progression of the students. There are positions in my own game (ex. spider guard triangle setups and attacks) that I do not often use and consequently don’t readily think of when it comes time to plan a class.
If that position would be valuable to many of thre students, then I have neglected something out of an oversight.
The GB Curriculum provides a structured plan that systematically covers all of the major positions and essential techniques that the students need to develop the most complete jiu-jitsu.
As an instructor, I can choose which specific techniques I decide to show within the position – allowing my own creativity within the class and still ensure that the students are getting all of the instruction that they need.
Each class is managed in blocks of time dividing warmup, instruction, water breaks, specific training and cool down.
The “Class Clock” assists me in making sure that I allot the optimal amount of time to each of the aspects of the class, without neglecting areas like takedowns, self defence instruction. The right amount of technical information that does not overwhelm the student and allows for maximum retention of that day’s instruction by each student.
The students who are juggling other commitments know when the class starts promptly and on time and know when they will be finished.
* A great tip!: The adherence to a schedule provides a predictability for the students to pace their energy throughout the class. They do not get too tired before class is over nor do they have to pace themselves because they can anticipate how much energy they will need to make it through the class.
3) The Importance of Social Media
The ICP4 provides specific and practical guidelines for new students to find out about the academy, but to grow the community within the school itself.
Some people are very active of Twitter and Facebook, updating the schools page several times a week. Some instructors are not well versed in how to use the reach of social media to create a sense of team among the students.
The social media portion of the ICP4 provided me with some practical suggestions like allotting a set amount of time per week to post. The types of content ex. techniques, short articles/ blog posts, photos of team bbq’s, class photos to catch the attention of students (and potential students who see the “Likes”.
4) Setup and Amenities of the Academy
I have visited academies that varied widely in their setup and am entities. From the simplest that was a rented room with puzzle mats spread out for each class to slick, shiny new academies with boutique pro-shops, juice and smoothie bar, full gym equipment and murals painted on the walls.
You can get great training in both types of places no doubt! The difference is the experience of the student who is paying their hard earned dollars to train in an academy which offers the best experience that they want to return to several times a week over years.
Having a clean, well organized space that is professional, safe and provides the amenities (ex. clean washrooms and change rooms, water, training gear) involves many details and the ICP4 shows a sample academy setup and provides concrete suggestions on how to organize a space.
Unfortunately, many martial arts academies are run as hobby clubs and don’t generate enough revenue to adequately support the academy and instructor. The facility setup properly can earn enough revenue for the instructor to be able to devote more time to growing the school and ensuring that the school will flourish for years to come.
The “Blueprint for the Perfect Gracie Barra School” was really helpful in demonstrating the potential of a top notch academy for both students and instructors.
Credits: Mark Mullen
GB Black belt from GB Calgary, Canada