Do You Take Notes On Your BJJ?

You likely have a few “keeners” in your jiu-jitsu class who you see frantically scribbling notes in a dogeared (and sweat-stained!) notebook at the side of the mat after your GB Professor has just demonstrated a technique.
Now most of us have taken notes both in school and if we took any type of outside course in a 2nd language or other areas of interest.
But do you do it in jiu-jitsu? And if not, should you be taking notes?
I say yes!
For a couple of different important reasons.
The most obvious reason to take notes is to remember (and hopefully review) what you learned in class. Like any complex skill, there is A LOT of information to try and absorb in that short class, and jotting down some notes sure helps. You just can’t remember it all.
I like to verbally review the class techniques with the students at the end of the class lineup. When I asked the class.
 “So what did we learn today?” a flash of confusion would momentarily flash across the faces of many of the students. “What did I learn today?!?” They scratch their foreheads and look nervously at the floor hoping that the instructor doesn’t call on them. “Gosh! I just learned this less than an hour ago! How can I not remember?”
This merely illustrates the point that our memories sometimes fail us and we may well be retaining a lot less of the information than we estimate.
Now not everyone is interested in carrying around a sweaty, soggy notebook on the mat. You can always do it immediately after class while the material is still fresh in your mind.
Another easy and free method of note-taking that I’m amazed that more students don’t take advantage of in jiu-jitsu class is using their phone to video any position details and mechanics that they find interesting. Either your instructor will allow you to do a video of his technique demonstration, or you are free to get a classmate to record a short video on the mat as you repeat the technique while narrating the key points. This is invaluable to retaining the information and it’s free and convenient to do. I think most BJJ students just don’t think of doing it.
The second – and less obvious reason – why note-taking will increase your ability to retain the techniques is that you will observe the demonstration with a closer, more critical eye, identifying the key steps and analyzing the move so that you can commit it to print afterward. You will pay attention in a different way.
Even if you never reread those notes, the act of watching differently in order to break down the movement into steps to write down will etch the key points more deeply in your memory.
If you have never tried taking notes in jiu-jitsu class before, I urge you to try it for a month and see if it makes a positive difference for you.
See also on GB Blog: GB Student Question: “What do I look for in choosing a jiu-jitsu school?”
Writer: Mark Mullen, Gracie Barra Black Belt