Notes in BJJ Class: A new Method

 Note: for a completely different perspective, check out BJJ Notes:  the Unsung Training Partner

A typical week for a student starting out in jiu jitsu could possibly be scheduled like this: a no-gi introductory course early in the week that focuses on passing the guard, a mid-week fundamentals course that highlights a combination of sweeps from the butterfly guard, a judo class that teaches three foot sweep throws, and finally a couple weekend classes that feature various attacks from the butterfly guard.

     That is a healthy dose of jiu jitsu for any jiu jitsu practitioner, much less a student who is just beginning their study of the gentle art. While taking these courses and learning all of these new techniques a major question arises: How can I remember all of this stuff?

     In my first years of training jiu jitsu I tried to remember everything I was taught in classes and seminars by taking copious amounts of notes. I took my notebook to class and wrote down detailed notes on every technique and drill I was shown. I used the computer to find techniques that would help me while rolling in class. I printed out techniques with pictures and meticulously arranged them in my notebook so I could gain the upper hand on my training partners next time I was at the academy.  I studied like I was preparing for a college exam and, just like a college exam, once it was finished (once I attempted the technique) I was done with it and I wouldn’t go back to look at those notes again.

  From this experience, over time, I have learned the benefits and problems of taking notes to compliment my jiu jitsu. I have also developed a better way of taking notes that retains the information gleaned more efficiently and allows the practitioners to fully use that information to improve their games.

²  First of all, the benefit of taking notes on jiu jitsu techniques learned from classes or from seminars is endless. A practitioner can have a written record of the techniques learned over years of training. This encyclopedia of jiu jitsu knowledge can turn an average jiu jitsu student into a world champion. The problem of taking notes on jiu jitsu techniques is the limited memory of the practitioner, or better yet the lack of memory of the practitioner.

²  When a person takes information immediately from the source, for example watching a technique taught and putting it into words on a piece of paper, they are not fully understanding the knowledge taught and are , in fact, hindering their ability to learn the technique. By immediately writing down the information that they are ‘learning’ they are not mentally processing the information. They are just regurgitating it. They are not mulling over the whys of movements, the results of angles and pressure, or the necessity of leverage. By immediately writing the technique down the student stops learning it because they now believe that they have that technique written in stone. After four or five repetitions they move on and do not look back. The technique is then mostly forgotten.

1.    The first thing a student needs to do is go to the academy and listen. Listen to what the instructor says, listen to the reasoning behind his movements, watch his movements, and ask questions. Once you have listened to and have watched your instructor demonstrate the technique then practice as much as possible with a partner. Ask more questions so that you fully understand. Do this with all of the techniques you learn during the class. When you roll after class, attempt to pull off the techniques during the roll.

2.    Now, reader, you might be thinking to yourself ‘when am I going to take my notes’? That is the great part.During class you do not need to take any notes. This will give you time to fully comprehend the techniques and practice them. It is after class when your memory will assist you in learning the techniques even better. Once you are finished with your class go home, get your shower, eat a meal, play with the kids, do whatever you do. An hour after class finishes is when you should begin to take your notes. You have been taught the techniques, you have practiced the techniques, now is the time to use your memory and recall the techniques. Visualize the technique, picture your instructor teaching the technique, record all of the details you need to remember and complete your notes. Review your notes and talk to your training partners or your instructor if you feel that you have missed anything. Using this method you have completed the task of taking notes on the techniques that you have learned and by submitting the technique to memory and recalling that technique you have ensured that it will be remembered and not easily be forgotten.

3.    This same method should be utilized when you are learning techniques at a seminar. Since you are learning three to four times more techniques than you would in a typical class you are allowed a cheat sheet. Write down the names of the techniques that you are learning at the seminar. At first give the techniques ridiculous names to keep them fresh in your mind and make them easier to recall after class. Using this method a student can walk out of a seminar having practiced all of the techniques and feel confident that they have gotten their money’s worth. The student will have a small piece of paper in hand with an outline of the techniques taught and head home knowing the scope of the notes to be taken later in the day. Repeat the same process as before.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of techniques in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. New techniques are being developed daily. It is a constantly evolving art form. The student of this art has a chance to learn and remember these techniques and can increase their ability to remember these techniques by taking proper notes and utilizing their memory using this method.

Now, get on the mat and give it a try.

by Daniel Frank

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