Question Authority: Why you need to ask your instructors questions about your bjj.

At nearly every bjj seminar I attend, the instructor (often a famous bjj competitor passing through my city) allocates some time at the end of the seminar for any and all questions. More often than not the instructor’s invitation is greeted with blank stares, some head scratching, shrugged shoulders and crickets chirping in the background.


1517562_10153737355905710_1822030694_nI never understood why the other students would not take advantage of the opportunity to access the knowledge of a multiple time World champion! He is right there! Ask him! After the seminar someone will often say to me “That was a good question that you asked.” When I ask them why they didn’t ask a question the response is a blank stare and “I couldn’t think of anything to ask.”

I was at a seminar with a multiple time world champion and asked him about a back take that I knew he used in his own game. I pointed out that I had seen the move in his book and asked for some tips on how to do it correctly.
You could see his eyes light up. Not only did he break down the move into steps, he also performed it on me several times so I could feel it, he allowed me to perform several reps on him so he could correct my weight placement.
That continues to be one of my favourite back takes to this day!

15170630438_b730b1ea11_zSeveral times per week we attend classes and our professor has a specific lesson plan for that day. Students drill the positions and then some time for rolling. I have gotten in the habit of asking the professor after the technique portion of class – but before the rolling starts – a specific question about a position that I am working on adding to my game.

This question may be totally unrelated to the positions that we covered in class but something that I am encountering in my rolling. I had learned a technique from the instructor; tried it out in rolling; revisit the instructor with my question and receive the clarification and details that I may have missed the first time.

Instructors LOVE IT when a student is curious about bjj and wants to know above and beyond the class lessons. 
They love it even MORE when the student shows that they are actually TRYING the techniques the instructor took the time to show them. And the instructor loves it most of all when the student returns and says to them “I submitted 3 opponents last week with that submission you showed me!”

After the early Fundamentals classes, the student must take an active role in their own learning. As each of us has a different body, set of talents and personality, our jiu-jitsu game will also develop in a highly individual fashion. The student must accept the responsibility of directing their own learning and asking their instructors to answer their personal bjj questions as they arise in their individual bjj journey.

15197993337_9907e0390d_zIf you are not sure where to begin let me help you get started with a question for you: “Did you get tapped out in your last class?”

For most of us, the answer will be “Yes, several times!”

How about asking your instructor “I got tapped with a choke from back. How do I defend the back position next time I find myself there? How do I counter that bow and arrow choke?”

Now, you are addressing specific holes in your game and taking an active role in your jiu-jitsu learning!

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