Take Note! 3 Methods to Remember Your Techniques

Take Note! How do I remember the techniques that I have learned in class?

One of the challenges for students of bjj is trying to remember the vast number of techniques that you see each week in class. You see a great move to add to your game, but by the end of the week the details are hazy if not completely forgotten! Sometimes when I ask the students at end of class what we did, many will scratch their heads, already forgetting what we did that very class!

How can you improve your retention of the techniques you have seen in class?

Here are 3 great ways to take “notes” and remember your techniques

1) Keep a notebook
notebook-41336_640From early on in my career as a student of bjj I was a note taker. After each class in bjj, the techniques still fresh in my mind, I would go to a coffee shop near the academy and note each of the techniques that I had learned, step by step.
I used my own abbreviations (opp = opponent) and even created my own Eddie Bravo-esque names for the techniques (The Tomahawk Sweep, The Bully Choke etc.)

* In addition to having a record of your techniques, taking notes confers an additional benefit: It makes you observe differently when watching the instructor demonstrate.
If you know that you will have to write down your techniques later, you will pay closer attention to each step. You will break down the move into logical steps that you can record later.

The drawback to this method is that it is time consuming and if you don’t have a chance to do this immediately after class, you may well forget it entirely.
If you do not have a good system for taking your notes, your own instructions can be very confusing (“grab his arm”) even to yourself!
Also, this is a difficult format to share with training partners. I had some guys ask to see my notes after a seminar that we attended. But really, they are unintelligible to anyone but myself due to my use of abbreviations and personal names for moves.

I keep a digital version in a text file on my computer that takes up next to no space and is immune to spilled acai.

2) Smart phone video 
smartphone-307377_640In this age of smart phones and readily affordable video cameras there is an easier and superior solution.
Nearly everyone owns a phone with great quality video. Most instructors don’t especially like (some don’t mind at all!) people filming their classes, as they have no control over where that video ends up.
But there is no prohibition against the student repeating the techniques at the end of class on their own and recording it for their own personal technique archive.

There is a group of students at my academy that will take the time at the end of class to repeat the moves while a third training partner films the best angles.

I have offered to buy my instructor a coconut water or lunch if he will consent to repeat the move I want for my video camera. Later, I can watch the movement from a different angle than when you yourself are performing it, and gain additional insight on how the move really works.
This is a great, convenient, and immediate method (and inexpensive!) of keeping those positions that you may refer to later.

The cool thing about this method is that it is easy to share with not only your friends, but maybe the bjj world at large!

3) Youtube playlists
If you are anything like me, your Youtube play lists are filled with cool jiu-jitsu moves.

youtube2I feel that YouTube GB72VIDEOS is one of the greatest tools at the disposal of the modern day grappler. There are some great channels out there that upload technique videos weekly and provide a valuable supplement to the material you learn in class.

How do I use YouTube to take notes on what I learned in class?

There are so many technique videos on the internet that it is highly likely that you can find someone demonstrating the same variation that you learned in class.
You can create playlists titled with the position (ex. guard passes) and can easily find the video that you want to review at a later point in time.
This way you have a library of positions that are important to your game.

Here are a couple of my favorite Gracie Barra YouTube channels that I know I can go to if I have a question about a particular position.


Do you take notes of your own bjj techniques?

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ