Instructor or Forum Buddies: Who Teaches You?

April 24, 2008

Let me tell you a story about Grappler X that decides to join a grappling gym after looking at a few MMA fights and a few episodes of TUF. After doing some research and finding the best school in the area (which is where every newbie wants to train), he makes his decision and joins the team.

After a few lessons, Grappler X isn’t too satisfied with his progression rate and decides that he needs something else to make him better. He’s tired of getting submitted in class and isn’t
doing all the fancy moves that he’s seen on cable, DVDs, and in the magazines.

As Grappler X is getting dressed in the locker room one day after class, he hears some guys talking about a cool website where he can go and download all the cool grappling DVDs and a forum where guys get together to discuss grappling techniques. Grappler X decides to check out the sites and he’s completely blown away at what he finds. Finally, the entire encyclopedia of grappling from A-Z is at his disposal and access to grapplers around the world to give him the best advice on how to progress.

Months go by and Grappler X STILL isn’t happy with his progress. He’s knows more techniques than his classmates, but isn’t quite as good as they are. He has a better understanding of advanced techniques than they do, but doesn’t really know how or when to apply them. Since his skills aren’t developing and he doesn’t know what the problem is or how to fix it, he places blame on the obvious target…the instructor and team. If it wasn’t for them, he would be better than he is. So, he decides that the answer is to change schools (from the recommendation of his grappling expert buddies on the forum) where they’ll be more receptive to “his way of learning” techniques. Unfortunately, the cycle repeats itself and Grappler X runs into the same problem, only this time, he loses interest and quits grappling.

This story happens far too often and at every belt level when a grappler reaches that “fork in the road” to decide who’s going to teach them: the instructor they see in person each week or faceless grappling forum experts that dispense training advice, routines and instructional DVD recommendations, mostly while rarely training as much as they advise themselves.

With the abundance of grappling material these days, it’s very easy to fall into self-deception and believe that we can coach ourselves into top-notch grapplers. And the more advanced you are as a grappler, the easier it is to fall into the self-deception trap. And though there may be some exceptional athletes capable of doing it, they are the exceptions, not the rule. It’s the wise grappler that realizes that it’s better to follow a guide that has successfully completed the journey instead of listening to someone who “has an idea” of what should happen along the way.

The bottom line is this: if you want to be the best grappler you can be, listen to the instructors and coaches that know you on the mat (observing your strengths and weaknesses) and avoid the faceless, unproven “experts” dispensing their mat wisdom from the safety of their keyboards and DVD recommendations.

The other day, I was having a conversation with one of my students and he wanted to know what gave me the idea of using a folding chair to demonstrate and teach the proper posture for the “Bullfighter” Guard Pass (as he saw in on the OG Clinic DVD) since he had never seen anyone use furniture to teach a grappling concept before. I told him the reason I was able to use the chair to successfully teach the concept of proper body placement and weight distribution was based solely on the fact that no one ever told me that I couldn’t use a folding chair to teach my students. And since no one told me I couldn’t use a chair (or anything else that comes to mind), my teaching was bound ONLY by my creativity.

The motivation for using the chair was to teach my students the proper hand positioning and to show them where the weight should be distributed to neutralize their opponent while doing the pass. The reason I used the folding chair was the fact that they’re light and mobile, which allows me to put several on the mat at one time to create a unique drill for the students that immediately catches their attention and presents them with a simple training tool that most of them have in their homes and workspaces. Once they put their hands on the chair in the proper position, the feeling they feel in their hands lets them know exactly where the weight is being distributed and if their feet and hips are properly positioned for successfully neutralize their opponent for a successful guard pass.

The whole idea of using a folding chair seems so foreign to many grapplers (of all experience levels and ranks), but that’s one of the reasons that so many grapplers can’t improve outside the traditional setting or without black belt level instruction. They lack the imagination and creativity required to help them learn, understand, and to teach grappling techniques and concepts outside of the traditional setting that you see in lots of training academies, grappling books, and instructional DVDs.

Would I consider myself an innovative genius for using chairs (among other things) as training props? Well…yes and no! I am innovative because I haven’t seen anyone else doing it and no one’s accused me of stealing it from someone else…yet! At the same time, I know that I don’t own the patent on training creativity and quite certain that there are TONS of non-traditional training methods being used in gyms around the world that teach grappling concepts that are unknown to the masses.

THAT’S what I consider “thinking outside the box” in grappling. So, if you’ve got some “crazy” idea that helps you or your students understand a grappling principle, keep up the good work and continue to think outside the box. And if you think using a folding chair as a guard passing training tool was cool, wait until you see how I use a stationary bike seat and an umbrella in my OG Shadow Grappling DVD, which will be available within the month!

The other day, I was having a conversation with one of my students and he wanted to know what gave me the idea of using a folding chair to demonstrate and teach the proper posture for the “Bullfighter” Guard Pass (as he saw in on the OG Clinic DVD) since he had never seen anyone use furniture to teach a grappling concept before. I told him the reason I was able to use the chair to successfully teach the concept of proper body placement and weight distribution was based solely on the fact that no one ever told me that I couldn’t use a folding chair to teach my students. And since no one told me I couldn’t use a chair (or anything else that comes to mind), my teaching was bound ONLY by my creativity.

The motivation for using the chair was to teach my students the proper hand positioning and to show them where the weight should be distributed to neutralize their opponent while doing the pass. The reason I used the folding chair was the fact that they’re light and mobile, which allows me to put several on the mat at one time to create a unique drill for the students that immediately catches their attention and presents them with a simple training tool that most of them have in their homes and workspaces. Once they put their hands on the chair in the proper position, the feeling they feel in their hands lets them know exactly where the weight is being distributed and if their feet and hips are properly positioned for successfully neutralize their opponent for a successful guard pass.

The whole idea of using a folding chair seems so foreign to many grapplers (of all experience levels and ranks), but that’s one of the reasons that so many grapplers can’t improve outside the traditional setting or without black belt level instruction. They lack the imagination and creativity required to help them learn, understand, and to teach grappling techniques and concepts outside of the traditional setting that you see in lots of training academies, grappling books, and instructional DVDs.

Would I consider myself an innovative genius for using chairs (among other things) as training props? Well…yes and no! I am innovative because I haven’t seen anyone else doing it and no one’s accused me of stealing it from someone else…yet! At the same time, I know that I don’t own the patent on training creativity and quite certain that there are TONS of non-traditional training methods being used in gyms around the world that teach grappling concepts that are unknown to the masses.

THAT’S what I consider “thinking outside the box” in grappling. So, if you’ve got some “crazy” idea that helps you or your students understand a grappling principle, keep up the good work and continue to think outside the box. And if you think using a folding chair as a guard passing training tool was cool, wait until you see how I use a stationary bike seat and an umbrella in my OG Shadow Grappling DVD, which will be available within the month!

————————————————————————————————————–

Paul M. Greenhill, “The Wise Grappler”, is the creator of The Wise Grappler System and author of The Wise Grappler Ezine, a weekly ezine that provides grappling and mental mindset training tips for the older (over 35) and non-traditional/non-competitive martial artists. To learn more about “The Wise Grappler” and to sign up for more FREE tips like these, visit his site at www.thewisegrappler.com or contact The Wise Grappler.


Do You REALLY Know How to Learn From Instructional Videos and DVDs?

April 4, 2008

Here’s a question for you.  With the number of grappling instructional videos and DVDs that are on the market these days to help the typical grappler expand their technical expertise, why is there so little (or no) information on a method to study these training materials to get the maximum benefit?

Initially, I didn’t see there was a need to know how to study instructional or that there was an approach to studying them.  That was until I took note of how I study them and how I’ve benefited tremendously since implementing  my approach as opposed to the days when I just threw an instructional DVD into the player and watched it until I’d had enough for one day.

So, here’s my approach:

Viewing #1 – Watch the entire video or DVD with two goals in mind:  get rid of the “wow” effect that seems to linger around the promise of learning a new move and to categorize every technique on the video into one of three categories (Yes, No, and Not Now).

The ‘Yes” category consists of techniques that can be immediately implemented into my game with little or no disruption to my current game.  The “No” category consists of techniques that I have NO CHANCE of implementing based on physical limitations or if implementing a new technique forces me to abandon my current gameplan to implement it (e.g. I stop finishing opponents in my closed guard and let them survive so that I can try to learn a fancy new open guard sweep).  The “Not Now” category consists of techniques that you can probably work into your gameplan over the
next 4-6 months to augment what you’re already doing, but it’s not a high priority.

Viewing #2 – Watch the video or DVD a second time two days afterthe first viewing, but ONLY focus on the “Yes” category techniques.  Play each “Yes” technique in regular speed, slow motion, and paused.  Each one of these speeds will provide you with a view that will give you more detail with each viewing than if you just looked at the moves once and gave in to the “I got it, next move!” mindset.  Also, you should close you eyes after each “Yes” technique to visualize it in your head as well as doing a “shadow walkthrough” drill of each technique.

Viewing #3 – Repeat the Viewing #2 routine two weeks later to re-enforce the “Yes” techniques.  Pay attention to how many additional details that you pick up with each viewing that you didn’t notice during the past viewings.

Viewing #4 – Review the video or DVD monthly after the third viewing to review the “Yes” techniques and to get your mind prepared for integrating the “Not Now” Techniques into your gameplan. And if you have some slack time and want to put your mind to work, imagine what defensive counters you would do if someone tried to execute a “No” technique against you.

With this routine, you’ll view the video 3 times in a 3-week time frame that will help you internalize the instructional
technique.  Does it sound like a lot of work?  Absolutely, but that’s why it’ll work for you because 95 percent of the grapplers that own the instructional products WON’T DO IT!  And champions do what challengers don’t have time to do.

Remember, there’s no rush when learning from videos or DVDs.  In fact, the slower that you digest the information, the chances are greater that you’ll actually learn the technique and be able to execute it successfully in your grappling gameplan.

The other day, I was having a conversation with one of my students and he wanted to know what gave me the idea of using a folding chair to demonstrate and teach the proper posture for the “Bullfighter” Guard Pass (as he saw in on the OG Clinic DVD) since he had never seen anyone use furniture to teach a grappling concept before. I told him the reason I was able to use the chair to successfully teach the concept of proper body placement and weight distribution was based solely on the fact that no one ever told me that I couldn’t use a folding chair to teach my students. And since no one told me I couldn’t use a chair (or anything else that comes to mind), my teaching was bound ONLY by my creativity.

The motivation for using the chair was to teach my students the proper hand positioning and to show them where the weight should be distributed to neutralize their opponent while doing the pass. The reason I used the folding chair was the fact that they’re light and mobile, which allows me to put several on the mat at one time to create a unique drill for the students that immediately catches their attention and presents them with a simple training tool that most of them have in their homes and workspaces. Once they put their hands on the chair in the proper position, the feeling they feel in their hands lets them know exactly where the weight is being distributed and if their feet and hips are properly positioned for successfully neutralize their opponent for a successful guard pass.

The whole idea of using a folding chair seems so foreign to many grapplers (of all experience levels and ranks), but that’s one of the reasons that so many grapplers can’t improve outside the traditional setting or without black belt level instruction. They lack the imagination and creativity required to help them learn, understand, and to teach grappling techniques and concepts outside of the traditional setting that you see in lots of training academies, grappling books, and instructional DVDs.

Would I consider myself an innovative genius for using chairs (among other things) as training props? Well…yes and no! I am innovative because I haven’t seen anyone else doing it and no one’s accused me of stealing it from someone else…yet! At the same time, I know that I don’t own the patent on training creativity and quite certain that there are TONS of non-traditional training methods being used in gyms around the world that teach grappling concepts that are unknown to the masses.

THAT’S what I consider “thinking outside the box” in grappling. So, if you’ve got some “crazy” idea that helps you or your students understand a grappling principle, keep up the good work and continue to think outside the box. And if you think using a folding chair as a guard passing training tool was cool, wait until you see how I use a stationary bike seat and an umbrella in my OG Shadow Grappling DVD, which will be available within the month!

————————————————————————————————————–

Paul M. Greenhill, “The Wise Grappler”, is the creator of The Wise Grappler System and author of The Wise Grappler Ezine, a weekly ezine that provides grappling and mental mindset training tips for the older (over 35) and non-traditional/non-competitive martial artists. To learn more about “The Wise Grappler” and to sign up for more FREE tips like these, visit his site at www.thewisegrappler.com or contact The Wise Grappler.