27 December 2012

Learning BJJ–it’s a batch size problem

Have you ever been in a situation where your mind is just overwhelmed with new information.  I have, and it was the first time I stepped into a BJJ class. So many new terms, techniques and behaviours.  You quickly discover that it’s incredibly complex and has so many fine details that it’s almost impossible for your brain to remember everything.  You find out that each technique has like 7+ little moves in it to make it work,  That there are like 7+ major positions,  that there are dozens of sweeps and dozens of submissions.  Then you discover there is 6+ different types of guard and each has it’s own set of techniques. The list goes on.

Suddenly you are in information overload right. How do you train for all of that?  My previous post I mentioned about Effective Training Time (ETT) and I put some math in to support that.  Now let me use some hypothetical numbers.  Let’s make up a number and say there are 13 positions and guards and on average 10 moves in each position.  So we have 130 different types of techniques we want to cover and let’s say that 10 minutes of drilling time is required to learn a move at a basic level. Lets says  you may do 1-2 moves per lesson. That’s 65 lessons or 22 hours of ETT to cover just those moves once each.  I haven’t even talked about strikes and self defence yet.

You are taught a broad range of technique and have insufficient time to absorb and own the technique before moving onto the next one.  All these techniques are “in progress” as none have been mastered yet.  This is a Large batches size problem because you are starting lots of techniques but not sufficiently understanding a technique before moving onto the next.  It’s like making cars and having none come off the assembly line until basically every car is ready.

The more “in progress” stuff we have going on at the same time, the less we actually complete.  The more likely we are to get lost in all that stuff.  That “stuff” is up in the air because you often need more and more technique to deal with problems in live rolling.  This is where too much live rolling can actually hinder your progress because you never finish any of that “stuff”.

What’s the opposite of all of this “in progress” stuff.  It’s called Small batch theory.  You break a problem down into bite size manageable pieces to keep the “in progress” as low as possible.  The more you are “trying” to learn at any one time, the less you have actually mastered because you haven’t completed anything..

So how do we fix the learning for jiu-jitsu so that we can increase our learning speed.  Simple, we have to reduce the batch size of what we learn and master.  Look at DJ Jackson,  black belt world champion in what 4 years, his core game consists of about 5-7 core techniques.  I wonder did he just haphazardly practice every technique under the sun or did he focus predominately on his core and then filled out his BJJ knowledge once he had that.

In my next blog I’ll go through how I’m using this small batch theory to optimize the speed I learn BJJ.


21 December 2012

BJJ – The Difference between a World Champion and a Hobbyist

Today’s blog is going to talk about an effective way to track whether or not you are meeting your goals and desires for BJJ.  Have a think right now before reading more about what is your goal for BJJ and have a think about how much time you think you spend on it

Got that,  right now for some background information first on this blog post.

I watched the rolled up episode with Marcelo Garcia and he stated that if you do something you should do it 100% and not 80%.  The question was leading towards life balance and that if your goal is competition, then you need to commit 100%.  Marcelo was saying that he hates seeing people commit 80% because they are wasting time.  Marcelo has also made a ton of sacrifices to commit to 100%!

5:30 in Marcello talks about giving 100%. Are you wasting time?

Let me tell you about a a Robert Drysdale seminar I went to a few years back.  Someone asked the question how often they should train jiu jitsu.  Drysdale replied dead serious “No more than twice a day”, as if twice a day was completely normal for everyone.  In Robert’s mind twice a day is completely reasonable, and he has tried more than twice a day and for himself he didn’t really see any extra benefit in training more. Now that shows 100% commitment.

So back to your goals and the time you have spent training the last 6 months.  In my opinion if your goal is to compete then 5-7 sessions a week is not going to cut it.

Do you think t you will win you a World Championship at any belt level if you are training at that level?  How are you going to compete against the like of  Lloyd Irvin’s “Medal Chasers” who even as Blue belts are doing more sessions than that everyday.  These guys are 100% committed because they just train, eat and sleep Jiu-Jitsu. Lloyd Irvin is giving those guys a way of life which I think is awesome if you want that.

Do you want to compete against that?  Is Jiu-Jitsu a hobby or a way of life for you? I  have seen a lot of talk recently about “Statistics” in competition, yet out of those statistics what it doesn’t tell you is effort.  I’d like a statistic on Effective Training Time. 

Let’s do the Math and have an example of what Effective Training Time (ETT) is all about.  At it’s core it’s really about the total time you spend doing “useful” training.  Not sitting on the side recovering, or waiting in line for you next go. 

Effective Training Time (ETT in hours) = Weeks * SessionsPerWeek * EffectiveMinutesPerSession / MinutesPerHour

Person A losses to Person B in a competition and both have trained extensively for 6 months leading up to the comp.
Person A has trained 6 times a week with 1hr sessions.  Each sessions thought only has an effective training time  of 30 minutes because of warm up, cool downs, breaks, drinks, line ups for rolls and delays when teaching. 
= 26 * 6 * 30 / 60
Person A ETT = 78 Hours (80% committed)

Person B trains 6 times a week, does 2 sessions per day, each session is 1.5 hours long and has 30 minutes downtime.
ETT = 26 * 12 * 60 / 60
Person B ETT = 312 Hours (100% committed)

So Person B actually has 4 times as much effective training time as person A! He still has the same delays in class but has a slightly longer class and he has an extra lesson a day which adds up to a 4 fold increase in the Effective Training Time.

To me it’s clear that Person B is committed and training hard while Person A is kind of wasting his time and going through the motions 6 times a week!  78 Effective hours over a 6 months isn’t a lot.  I wish I could have a job were I’d only need to commit to 78 hours every 6 months. 

So work this out for yourself.  What’s your ETT for the last month and does your ETT match your goal?  How are you going to correct the imbalance?

My next blog entry will be for the hobbyist and committed BJJ practitioner alike. I’ll be breaking an awesome concept that I’ve recently learnt that will help you achieve your goals in BJJ and fix those imbalances.  This awesome scientific concept can be applied to other areas of your life as well. 


tl;dr;  Don’t give 80% to something, give 100% or less than 25%.