Why Is A Curriculum Better?

If you have trained in different bjj schools, you likely have trained both according to a set curriculum and alternatively a school where the classes were random according to what the instructor felt like teaching that day.

A Gracie Barra blog reader asked about the value of having a curriculum and inquired if a curriculum has specific techniques you want students to learn?

Gracie Barra schools follow the 16 weeks curriculum, where a different position on the ground (and a standup technique) is the focus each week. Over the course of the 16 weeks all of the major ground positions are covered with positions like guard top and guard bottom covered multiple times due to the fact that these positions carry a greater importance and frequency in rolling.

The top Gracie Barra instructors structured the weeks with the best possible progress in mind. The basic techniques will be taught earlier on laying a solid foundation for the student with more advanced positions introduced as the student gains experience. There must be an element of progression as students build on their skills in a systematic way and improve over time.

While there is no list of basic techniques etched in stone, most experienced students are aware that the core of techniques in the Fundamentals are the tried and true techniques that are the most effective answers to most jiu-jitsu problems. Additionally, many of these fundamental techniques develop body movement and essential skills such as base, balance and hip movement b without which it is difficult to perform many of the more advanced techniques. Can you imagine the difficulty of trying to perform an omoplata sweep without first having developed some ability to move the hips by practicing your scissors sweep? And so it is with many fundamental techniques building skills that are necessary to learn the more advanced positions.

Without a structured curriculum students will learn in a patchwork, random fashion. Picking up one move this class and then switching to a completely unrelated position their next class.

Without a solid, well planned curriculum, jiu-jitsu students may well have big gaps in their knowledge as some positions are simply skipped over altogether.

An instructor may unconsciously ignore certain positions in favor of their personally preferred moves. That leaves out the student would would benefit from the ignored position.

I have also witnessed instructors, perhaps bored with teaching the important basics, focus on more advanced techniques like deep half guard or De la Riva sweeps. While this is fun, it may not be the best plan for many of the students who would be far better served by learning guard retention or the triangle choke.

The most common feedback that I hear from students who started learning in a bjj school that taught without a curriculum is that they appreciated knowing there was a plan to the their training. That the classes were not just a mish mash of random techniques but that there was a sense of planned progression to their training.

How do you feel training in a jiu-jitsu school that has a curriculum vs a school with random training?

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Credits: Mark Mullen 

Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia

FB: facebook.com/markmullenbjj