One of the messages that I absorbed from the Gracie Barra ICP was how many of the senior instructors from different areas of the Gracie Barra word emphasized the point: “You must always remain open to learning. The learning never stops in jiu-jitsu!”
This message was really brought home to me recently when I had a black belt from another country visit my academy when he was on holiday. I invited the black belt professor to be a guest instructor for that class knowing that the students would enjoy seeing some different variations on techniques.
That week, the Gracie Barra Curriculum had us studying escaping from the bottom of side control and I requested that the visiting instructor show some variations of side control escapes.
The Gracie Barra Curriculum: The Best Way to Learn Bjj
The instructor showed the most basic side control escape where the bottom player replaces the guard with a knee inside. Basic stuff and nothing new to see here right?
The instructor showed a small detail to create space for the bottom player to place a hook. I had been studying jiu-jitsu for 20 years and this was the 1st time I had seen this detail!
Often, when using this escape in the past, I would get stuck in a certain position and just thought that it was the difficult part of the technique. But here was a solution that was right under my nose all this time! He pointed out in his initial explanation of the technique. I immediately got right down on the mat and asked “Hey, Let me try that!”.
Perfect! Another piece of the puzzle.
In fact, I saw 2 more details to techniques that I had been doing for many years of jiu-jitsu that made those “old” techniques sharper and new again. I am an enthusiastic supporter of seminars when a visiting high level instructor visits your city. At most seminars that I’ve attended, the instructor invites open questions at the end of the session on any topic of jiu-jitsu.
I recommend that you take your BEST position. The position that you know inside and out, that you know you can hit successfully in sparring. Now ask the instructor if he can add any details or advice for a sharper execution.
I bet that you will be astonished at some of the simple details the instructor will show you that immediately improve your already strong technique.
You will palm your forehead “Oh! That is the real way to do it! I’m never doing it my old way again!!”
The truth is that jiu-jitsu is so deep that a training session spent with a senior instructor can continue to reveal new details and nuances of techniques that you have been performing for years.
It is easy to think that we know all there is to know about the basic techniques or our best positions.
Remember the advice of the senior instructors to keep an open mind and you will continue to deepen your knowledge of jiu-jitsu throughout all of your time on the mats.
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam