Improving through Isolation
I was recently talking to someone about their problems with side control escapes, and I got to thinking about using the training methods I've picked up from the Straight Blast Gym to improve them. I thought I'd share my advice here.
The SBG seems to put off a lot of BJJ and MMA guys. I know I used to think "Who are these American guys and why are they stealing BJJ? Why are they giving stuff dumb names? Are they BJJ, MMA or JKD?" I got over that when I really started looking into their training and teaching methods and saw the really impressive results they've been getting. I think you will too.
To get the most out of my advice below, you'll need to understand some about SBG breaks down their instruction. They teach in three stages, which they call the I-Method. It goes like this:
The introduction stage is simply demonstrating and explaining the technique or concept, and having the students drill it statically until they understand the move and can do all the parts.
The isolation stage involves drilling and sparring that focuses on the technique or concept that was taught in the introduction stage. Special drills and games can be created to isolate the specific ability being taught.
The integration stage is where the student works the technique or concept into his overall game. This is commonly where free sparring and rolling occurs.
I doubt any of that was new and foreign to you, since most BJJ/MMA gyms already do this, though they don't necessarily think about it like this. Like with many other aspects of their training method, the SBG doesn't claim to have invented much of what they do, but they were one of the first to really analyse and breakdown WHY things work and then use this understanding to do them more creatively.
In particular, I have been really impressed with how SBG has been fleshing out the isolation stage. I've often heard complaints that too many gyms have a "here's a technique, now let's roll" attitude, and that too much is left up to the student to bring the static move to full out sparring. The isolation stage is what bridges these two by letting the student develop the skill with progressive resistance, until he's able to bring it into his game in sparring.
I'll use my friend's problem to illustrate this:
If you're having trouble with escapes, you should consider focusing on them in isolation. As explained above, I don't mean putting in a ton of static repetitions, though that can be useful if you're really making a point of paying attention to the details and improving with each rep. Most people find that too boring to get too much out of it. I think you'll get better results if don't overdo static drilling and instead work on isolated positional sparring from wherever you're having trouble.
For example, start under side control and try to escape (return to guard, go to knees and takedown or reverse/roll them) while they try to pin and submit you and improve position. Reset and restart if either achieves their goal.
You can ease the learning curve by using progressive resistance, i.e. starting at 10% resistance and working up to 100% gradually as you succeed at lower percentages. Starting at full blast might be great fun for the top guy, but that's not necessarily what is going to help the guy on bottom learn and improve their escapes as well.
You can also refine the purpose of this drilling by taking this approach and applying it to really specific problems. If you're having trouble with escaping side control, figure out a specific problem you are having. Look at your posture, the placement of your head, hands, elbows, hips, knees, feet, etc. Where are they ending up? Where should they be? How can you get them there? Once you've worked this out and developed a solution, do isolated sparring for just that single point. Maybe even forget the rest of the escape for the time being and just work on that single issue.
As an example, you might find that you're ending up with your near hand out of posture. Analyse the situation and figure out some ways of getting it back where it should be. To drill this, you start out of posture under side control, with the goal of regaining proper posture; your partner tries to keep you out of posture. Reset and restart once you've achieved your goal or if the positions change enough to take you outside the scope of the drill.
You might want to take it back a bit and just look at how to prevent yourself from getting in the bad position in the first place, instead of just escaping it onces you're in trouble.
It also helps to have a willing and helpful training partner. If he keeps getting you with something, he should be happy to explain how he's doing it. He doesn't need to feed you all the answers, but the learning stops if he just keeps trying to "beat" you without then telling you what he's doing and give suggestions on how to counter it. There should be a sense of cooperation and development.
I think training like this can be very beneficial, though most people don't put in the time and effort to do it. I know I could sure do a lot more of it.
Excellent post - I think that really analyzing this process in a cerebral way has helped me make the most of my class-time.
I only have access to so much instruction and rolling per week, and I think sticking to this sort of plan has really sped up my progress.
Yeah, it does sound a lot like what we do at Eduardo's place, and I consider myself pretty lucky to be learning under such a competent instructor, though I notice we don't practice the "Isolate" stage every night as we should.
Overall, I don't have much room to speak yet, as I'm still a complete BJJ n00b, but good article. Just as you said, it's good to know at least -why- we do certain things a certain way :)
Yeah, we don't always follow this format, but what I thought was funny is how as soon as I started reading more about the I-Method, Eduardo just started doing it more and more.
I'm thinking of seeing if I can run an "open mat" of sorts after the normal classes are over for people who want to work on stuff like this.
I have always been a big believer in this kind of training. When I would teach we did a lot of this kind of thing.
Now at Cobra Kai, every weds is drill night. You start off in a bad position, such as having your back taken. You either get tapped out or you escape. Once either happens you switch. We do this for many different positions. It is intended to get someone good at escapes, while developing finishing techniques for the guy attacking. Weds nights have a lot of people in class.
Yeah, that is a really nice method for approaching things that doesn't overwhelm the student. We do this quite a bit with both clubs that I'm involved with.
Something my jujutsu instructor does pretty often is to introduce something, drill it, then do some limited free sparring using that technique. The other day we were working some gi chokes, he coached us up, we drilled, then did restricted randori where we could only use the chokes that we had just worked along with arm bars. After we'd went a few rounds like this, then it opened up to other techniques.
By restricting the techniques used, students don't feel overwhelmed, and don't just fall back on techniques that they are already comfortable with. They get to work against a resisting opponent who pretty much knows what is coming already. This makes things pretty challenging, and even the noobs quickly learn how to defend against the techniques in question. So to be able to land them, good positioning and setup becomes quite important.
Doing this kind of work has really helped me personally. It really tightens your focus, and you tend to recognize where something will fit in very quickly. It has really helped me to be more decisive and aggressive. I recognize positions of potential attack much more quickly, and am not hestitant in just going for it.
I don't get you, Aesopian.
If someone had asked "what's a good way to improve my escapes?" you would have locked the thread without explanation.
But when you feel like enlightening everyone about your favourite methods for training escapes, it's a-ok.
You've built up an environment where you can bolster your ego all you want, but where you can't be questioned. You inhibit learning in favour of politics. You and Shumagorath edit posts if they disagree with your viewpoint, keeping the forum silenced of dissenting opinions. You refuse to acknowledge other styles of grappling. You use your position of authority put down others to feed your image as grappling god.
Good training advice or not, your behaviour is no better than that of a bullshido master. You stop just slightly short of awarding yourself a tenth degree black sash and introducing yourself to people as Sifu Aesopian.
I tried to PM this to you instead of posting it, but your inbox is full. I guess you're really popular.
good post Aeso. I have recently started to train in this fashion , focusing on the stage between static repetition and full bore kumite.
One way I have been doing it, and have found it extremely helpful, is to use a 50% / 90% method. Meaning you roll/defend at roughly 50% and your partner rolls with a bit more intensity, but controlled enough to see the submission he is going for or see what is available. Once the submission is obtained you reverse the rolls and you will have to work your way out of the submission and bad position to get a position of dominance and submission of your own, then reverse again.
Not completely compliant static technique and not balls out rolling, but slow enough for you to try and work new techniques into your game or be able to see options more clearly.
Go down and get some vagisil before you post on this thread again, thanks.
Originally Posted by DokterVet