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Punisher
3/05/2006 11:55pm,
I train at two different schools, one kenpo, one bjj. On top of the obvious differences in the material they teach, the two schools also approach teaching in drastically different ways. I'd like to hear from other members about how their schools teach their material. Here's the situation I'm going through right now.

At my kenpo school there is a set curriculum. Everyone basically works on the same set of material for a two month time period, then the school moves on the next set. Students generally show up with a basic idea of what they will be working on that day, each class building on the next until the end of the two-month cycle.

At my bjj school, the material presented for a given class is basically up to whatever the instructor feels like doing that day. Each class is independent from the next. We might spend a whole class on learning a couple of guard passes, but then not do them again for months.

Being that I have a lot more experience with my kenpo school's format, I find it difficult to learn in the relatively unstructured approach of my bjj school. I often tell people that my bjj training has given me a lot of dots, but I'm having trouble connecting them to get a complete picture.

My kenpo school offers private lessons for people that want to work on stuff outside of that sessionís curriculum, and I was hoping to get some privates to add some structure and fill in the gaps of my bjj training. I was really surprised when an instructor at my bjj school discouraged me from doing this, telling me private lessons were best used to refine specific parts of your game (i.e. I'm having problems with this sub from side control, show me what I'm doing wrong), not to teach large portions of new material (i.e. I'm a newb, show me the guard and what I can do from it).

I get the serious feeling that my bjj school's format is designed to cater to their core students, guys that have already developed some degree of skill, but isn't very kind to beginners. My kenpo school's black belt classes are run like my bjj classes, but everyone there already has an understanding of the proper technique, mechanics, and strategy. In affect we are working improving stuff we already know, not learning new things. The bjj class I typically get the most out of is the Saturday morning self-defense class, where there are enough similarities to my kenpo for me to learn the new techniques and integrate them into my overall game easily.

Red Elvis
3/06/2006 12:11am,
Just curious... How long have you been doing BJJ and how often do you go per week?

It has been my experience that most BJJ instructors teach this way. The techniques are random on different days but over time begin to fill in the gaps. I imagine it would be difficult to spend alot of time on only one aspect as there are so many positions and moves however for beginners there should be some core priciples and positions that are drilled repeatedly.

Of the five instructors I've had over the years only one drilled core technique over and over while introducing new techniques as well. This was the best approach in my opinion as it does get somewhat convoluted to learn a **** load of stuff over a short period of time. However, that approach did work as well.

On the other hand I would hate the two month on only certain techniques more. Each has its pros and cons.

Punisher
3/06/2006 12:24am,
I've been going to my bjj school about six months now. My work situation and the school being across town make it hard for me to go more than once a week.

My goal is to make class two times a week this month to see if it makes any noticable difference.

Simon McNeil
3/06/2006 12:38am,
Back at NBDMA in Canada Master Chau would just show up with new stuff once in a while and say "OK tonight we are going to do this".

Or one of the senior students at the kwoon would show up from their travels and have picked up something new they wanted to share and he'd give them some time to do it.

Over here it's more likely trading techniques... Things like: "So that's how Xingyi does it eh? Ok, but what if... this happens..."

I've picked up some decent stuff in the last couple days since I've finally met up with a few decent martial artists... Xingyi power generation and footwork has some good stuff in it. :karated:

jnp
3/06/2006 12:43am,
What Red Elvis is saying is that you just need some more mat time. It takes the average person about 6 months, training at least 2 times a week to become semi-competent on the mat. Chaining together moves in a competent manner is a skill that typically takes over a year.

Some people learn faster, some slower. I trained 5x a week for two years. I improved considerably faster during this time than the other students who started around the same time I did but came 3x or less a week. No surprise there.

Write down the techniques you learn and drill them often. Drilling is a good tool many American Bjj schools do not stress enough. Pay special attention if your instructor teaches you a series of interconnected moves, drill the series. This is especially helpful for beginners, as it teaches you proper transitions if performed using good technique.

If you can't make it to class two or more times a week find a person, outside of class, to help you drill the moves you have learned. Drill the move(s) in a slow manner initially, paying attention to all the details.

Finally there are drills for putting moves together. Ask your instructor to show you the four points drill. There are armbar, omoplata and triangle drills as well. If you want to get better faster you're going to have to put in the work.

Punisher
3/06/2006 12:57am,
I know I need to put more time in, but I'm also looking for ways to make my time more productive.

What I can't really understand is them turning me down when I offered them more money to spend a half-hour or so a week to show me the basics, so I at least have an idea of what I'm trying to accomplish when rolling. Maybe if I approach them again and ask them to show me some drills I can do to practice outside of class, I'll get a different answer.

jnp
3/06/2006 1:04am,
Sparring is still the best tool for learning Bjj. I'm just recommending some supplemental training.

Punisher
3/06/2006 1:17am,
I assume you mean sparring with people that actually know what they're doing.

I assume rolling around on the floor with my kenpo buddies isn't going to get me where I want to be. I have a training group that has bunch of guys from various backgrounds, including a guy training mma, but his bjj isn't much better than mine.

There is a bjj school that just opened up near my house. I like where I train now, but I'll probably end up switching if I can't find a way to make it to class more.

jnp
3/06/2006 1:26am,
I assume you mean sparring with people that actually know what they're doing.

Yes. The higher the rank, and the more helpful your sparring partner is, the faster you will improve. The best students/teachers to learn from will often stop you during or after a sparring session and point out the mistakes you made.

Use your Kenpo buddies for drills.

Punisher
3/06/2006 1:28am,
Anyway, the point of me starting this thread was to get people to share how their school does things, .

How set is the curriculm? How structured are classes? How often do you test, if at all? That sort of thing.

lifetime
3/06/2006 2:41am,
My TKD school tends to just follow the whims of the instructor, so we dont usually have a set lesson plan beyond warm-ups-basics-drills-sparring. If there are a few new tricks, or something the instructor wants to stress particularly on that day, he'll just make us drill it over and over and over and then spar, keeping in mind to use those techniques.

My MT school is a little different, in that because there's very few people there, my entire training session consists of skipping, bag work, and then 5 rounds of thai pads with my instructor who pretty much just tells me what he wants me to do and makes me do it, be it a new punch, or different combinations.

Rubberduck
3/06/2006 5:00am,
In Savate we had the situation like your BJJ. We did what instructor of the day decided. But it changed this year, and is similar to your Kenpo cycle, but we have
4 week cycles. Starting with hands-->sparring, kicks-->use of kicks/combos in sparring (this week), advanced kicks.

Punisher
3/06/2006 10:55am,
From talking to people here and offline, the "unstructured" approach sees to be the common why to teach martial arts. But is it really the best way? Is there a reason for doing it this way or is it just laziness?

Imagine what highschools and universities would be like if the teachers just taught what they felt like each day. My brother-in-law and sister are both PE teachers. As part of their job they have to develop lesson plans that lay out what skills they are intending on teach, as well as specific goals and milestones for the students.

I think it's particularly important for begnineers to have structure and guidance, possibly from a special beginners class or program.

One school that I think does it right is Modern Combatives, in Berkely CA. Here's what they do for their introductory program.


Adults - Introductory Classes
There are no advanced techniques, just fundamentals performed with more sophistication. New athletes as well as those with more experience can train together. The newcomer is being introduced to the fundamentals while the veteran is developing their game.

See FAQ for required equipment for the listing of required equipment for each class.

MMAZERO: 1st Session
During the first session new members are exposed to and walked through the fundamental areas of our Modern Combatives curriculum, Stand Up, Clinch, and Ground. This is done privately or with one or two additional participants. This insures that the newcomer has the full attention of the coach. The student can acclimate as quickly as possible. The coach can then adequately assess the student’s performance level – and adjust the training accordingly. These introductory sessions run concurrently with the MMA101 classes.

After MMAZERO the new member will be able to participate in the MMMA101, BJJ101, JUDO/BJJ101, and KICKBOXING101 group classes.

MMA101
Our MMA 101 class is designed to expose the new athlete to our training methods and develop a solid foundation of physical conditioning. At the end of this 13-session course, the athlete will have a solid grounding in the fundamentals of functional training, and will have acquired those skills in skill-specific drills against a resisting opponent.

Stand Up: footwork and mobility, basic Boxing, basic takedowns and takedown avoidance.

Clinch: basic tie-ups, strikes from the clinch, basic swims -- intro to pummeling, basic takedowns and takedown avoidance

Ground: ground(ed) fighting (mobility, falling and getting up), positional strategy, and escapes.

Transitions: introduction to the big picture -- how the games fit together

- 15 Session Course, includes: 1 private lesson, 1 complimentary KICKBOXING101 session, 1 complimentary BJJ101 session, and an end of course evaluation

Ryno
3/06/2006 11:21am,
When I teach FMA, we warm up with basics, then do some sort of basic drill. After that, I pick an area of emphasis for the class, either due to something I noticed during basics, or just something I think they're ready for. I introduce the technique, and make sure that they understand the context for which it might be used. We then work the technique by itself. Once they've got it, we try to execute that technique under less predictable circumstances. This may mean sparring, or using the technique in some sort of freeform give and take drill.

When I train in jujutsu, we warm up with falls and rolls, then do takedowns or positional work, then the instructor will introduce new techniques. They'll demonstrate them, then we'll practice the techniques by themselves. After that we will try to work on the setup of the technique. Finally, we'll do some randori, and try to incorporate the new techniques that we just learned.

A good instructor should not always just run down a checklist of a curriculum. Especially any art that is taught in a live manner. There are just too many subtleties, corrections, and counters that are necessary to be taught. It is very beneficial if a teacher can pick up on these limitations, and work to correct them and/or provide other options so that students don't get stuck.

Obviously some kind of organized structure within the curriculum is a good thing, but teachers should be able to deviate at their discretion. They should also be able to pursue different sub-sections of the curriculum if they feel it necessary. Basics should always be re-inforced, and skills should be added in a logical manner, so that they compliment the existing skillset of the students.

Ming Loyalist
3/06/2006 11:21am,
we have an 8 week rotation and we work on the same material over a week's time (we generally vary the applications of the same concept over the week in addition to drilling the basics every time.)

we have had this system for a year, but now we are going to go to a 10 week rotation because we felt that we were skipping a few key points.

Punisher
3/06/2006 11:47am,
When I train in jujutsu, we warm up with falls and rolls, then do takedowns or positional work, then the instructor will introduce new techniques. They'll demonstrate them, then we'll practice the techniques by themselves. After that we will try to work on the setup of the technique. Finally, we'll do some randori, and try to incorporate the new techniques that we just learned.

A good instructor should not always just run down a checklist of a curriculum. Especially any art that is taught in a live manner. There are just too many subtleties, corrections, and counters that are necessary to be taught. It is very beneficial if a teacher can pick up on these limitations, and work to correct them and/or provide other options so that students don't get stuck.


I think you're right. Running through the curriculm sheet as fast as possible and assuming you've taught your students everything they need to know is one of the worst things you can do. But I also think it is foolish to assume you can adequately teach a new skill, concept, or technique in a single class, especially if the students don't have the proper foundation.

I'd much rather be part of a school that after introducing something, purposely revisits it to reenforce and refine the original lesson.