At a seminar I attended, martial arts legend Dan Inosanto once distinguished between
- the techniques used in a martial art, and
- the training methods used to develop those techniques.
These are different things! For example, many of the same jointlocks and chokes occur in Brazilian Jiu-jitusu and classical Japanese Ju-jutsu, but the training methods used by those two schools of thought are obviously fairly different. One art uses choreographed drilling, the other uses contested sparring.
OK, OK, so there are techniques and teaching methods. How does this apply to you? Well recently I was able to guest teach a class at the school of my friend Ritchie Yip.
Here is part of that class
One of the techniques I wanted the group to work on was the armbar spin-out from guard. This is a very useful move when a bigger and stronger opponent tries to stack and crush you in an attempt to get out of your armbar attack.
But my secret hidden agenda that night was to field-test a different method of teaching and training this technique. I had just come up with a new solo drill. I wanted to see if it would make the spin-out, a fairly complicated technique, easier to learn.
So I made the class do the solo drill, and then we moved on to the technique itself. Within a few minutes everyone – even the new guy with only 3 classes under his whitebelt – was spinning out of the armbar like a seasoned pro.
Not bad for a move that considered by many to be ‘advanced.’ I’ve taught this technique before and adding the solo drill to the teaching progression really accelerated the success that everyone experienced. The students learned something that night, but so did I! A big ‘thank you’ to the boys and girls who were my guinea pigs!
Regardless of whether you’re teaching or just training, sometimes the best way to learn a move is to isolate the crux of the move – the most difficult part – and drill it on it’s own. A bad workman blames his tools, and a poor teacher blames his students. Finding, creating, and using the correct drills is part of good teaching. The right drill at the right time can work wonders.
If you have something against embedded video, here’s a direct link to the solo drill and the actual armbar spin-out on Youtube.
Also, for more ideas about solo and partner drills check out my Grappling Drills DVD, available on this very site!