Let’s say that you want to add a new technique – any technique – to your game.
With new techniques there’s always a ton of trial and error, struggle and effort, discouragement and tough times before it starts working reliably for you.
But here’s the thing: no matter what area of jiu-jitsu or submission grappling you’re working on, I guarantee you that there’s someone out there who has already spent years working on that exact technique. And that person is probably light years ahead of you.
They have already done the research, made the mistakes, and put in hours and hours testing out what works on the mat.
So regardless of whether you’re working on the sleeve choke, the triangle choke from closed guard, or an escape to rear mount you have two distinct choices
1) Figure everything out yourself starting from scratch, or
2) Find someone who is further down the road than you are in that area, then take advantage of their knowledge
My preference is definitely option 2.
Find the people who can help you. Select the practitioners who know more than you do in a certain area, and then get them to help you with it.
That person has spent 10, 50, or 100 more time than you debugging that technique. That person understands the mechanics of the technique, the counters, and the recounters. That person has internalised the timing of the technique, as well as how to modify it to make it effective on all kinds of different body types.
I am NOT saying that all you need to do is find one expert and have them teach you everything.
No one teacher can fulfil all your learning needs. That’s because regardless of what the traditional martial arts would have us believe, no single person can be an expert in every single area that you might need to learn about.
MMA fighters understand this already, and it’s accepted as part of the sport. Usually a fighter will have a conditioning coach, a striking coach, a wrestling coach and a jiu-jitsu coach. They don’t rely on one coach to be an expert in every area. They want to use each person within his field of expertise.
But you can break down your learning even further than that…
In the jiu-jitsu world your best bet might be to learn the details of the triangle choke from one coach, the intricacies of the spider guard from another coach, and the secrets of escaping the rear mount from a third. It’s not disrespectful to do this: first of all, one guy might genuinely not be an expert in all 3 topics. And secondly, maybe the way he teaches a particular technique doesn’t work for your body or your learning style.
In fact, when I look at the things I am good at, then I always got different pieces of the puzzle from different instructors. One guy showed me one thing, another guy taught me another piece, and so on. Put all these pieces together and – BAMM – good things start happening on the mat!!
So please, go ahead, learn from anyone you can (just be cool and give credit to the people who taught you).
If you can, go and actually physically train with these subject matter experts. Go to their classes, take private with them, attend their seminars, and ask them lots of questions.
If you can’t travel to meet these experts, then don’t worry. The beauty of training in the internet age is that you can still watch their videos, buy their apps, read their books, study their DVDs, and take their online training.
Either way, it might cost you a bit of money, but ultimately it’s a great deal. By taking advantage of their knowledge you’ll be learning for pennies on the dollar. Or, if you prefer, seconds on the hours.
In just a few minutes you might get that missing piece of the puzzle that would have taken you another 6 months of R&D to figure out yourself.
In a one hour private you might just get several years of knowledge downloaded into your head.
In this sport you actually have the option to learn from the best experts in the field. And if you don’t do this, then to some degree you’re just making life more difficult for yourself. There’s already enough struggle in Jiu-Jitsu without adding even more difficulties to your training.
Whether it’s a real-life mentorship, or a virtual brain dump from an instructional product, take advantage of the experts. They’re out there. Most of them want to help you. And most of the time their advice will work for other people – including you!
The bottom line is that you’ll get better SO much faster if you just take the accumulated knowledge that these experts want to give you and then use it as the starting point for learning new techniques.