Most days, we drill for 45 minutes. I understand that sounds like a lot at first. We cover the same thing all week, but this is not mindless mass repetition. We cover three things giving us 15 minutes for each thing divide that by two because you were training partner that gives us 7 1/2 minutes for each movement. I also subtract the time that I spend explaining and the time it takes to switch with your partner. Now we’re looking at 5 to 6 minutes per objective. This is a this is a far cry from mass repetition. It’s a quick study of a position that you absolutely will see when going live, without the emotional tax of a competitive roll. I like to think of this as a naturally occurring process, and that’s why we leave it open format because every single pair is going to do this a little bit differently. Each stage teaches us important details.
Stage 1: Watch this do this.
Most things in Jujitsu are not natural movements for the layperson. It will take a couple of repetitions for most new information, just to see if you can envision your body doing this and executing it without too much effort. Experienced people often find themselves helping their training partners. We want our training partners to be as good as possible. Help them through this stage, but don’t overdo it.
Stage 2: Ask questions!!!
This is where it gets interesting, because everybody has a different question. You don’t want to apply a technique at the wrong time because it won’t work. What is my cue? When exactly is it too late? You want to understand the exact timing window that the technique works in, and then we can start looking at varying levels of active resistance within the position. At Purple Belt and above, I encourage everyone to have their own version of a position. It’s OK to ask how do we get here? What if he puts his hand in the way in this manner? There are endless what ifs, and we don’t need to be going live to explore these things. This allows us to understand the position better with less wear and tear on the body. It is also ok to ask if this is something that will actually fit into your game. If you will never use the movement, at least invest your time understanding what it is and how it works. You may never berimbolo, but you will meet people who use it and want to know what is going on. We are constantly mapping out patterns so we can respond in the best possible way without stopping to think.
Stage 3: Natural discovery of sustainability.
Everything you do will wear on you over time, some things more than others. Practicing a movement for six minutes at a time for a week straight gives you a tiny glimpse into what this will do to you and your training partner in the long term. People are not disposable, so you will need to find a way to complete the movement sustainably. If you’re cranking on your training partner’s knees and neck with every step, you will probably lose training partners. Remember, “get comfortable being uncomfortable” doesn’t mean to mindlessly take abuse.
Stage 4: What does this look and feel like at full resistance?
Lots of people try to skip the previous three stages and go straight to this. If you’re not a Black Belt with a decade or more experience, you should probably check your ego. Don’t be “that guy” who sees something on Instagram and dives into it without fully understanding what can happen. People actually get hurt doing this, and the element of surprise is not worth as much as you might think. Try asking this question: How little effort can I put in and still accomplish the goal? You don’t want to blow all of your energy on a trivial step. Full resistance does not mean mindless maximum effort.
When I was traveling for work, I stumbled upon a small gym with a Blue Belt instructor. Everyone in the gym was surprisingly good. After class, about 90% of the students stayed an extra hour and simply drilled. 10 minutes whatever you want, 10 minutes whatever I want. Specifically, a couple guys were going through a Cobrinha DVD on a laptop. This had a huge impact on the way I understood drilling.
In the end, you can’t bullshit anybody. You’re not going to do anything five times and be as good as somebody who has done it 500 times. There is a point of diminishing returns, but the science is clear. You learn through repetition and effort.
If you’re interested in reading about your brain and how it works, check out these fine stacks of paper.