Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Extra Learning and Visualization

There is only so much that can be covered in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. Generally, in our class, we learn 3 or 4 variations to a position, defense, offense, or progressive situation. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are a lot of details to be learned in order to improve. And, in the beginning, a very limited time in which to pick up complex techniques.

I remember my first three months in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu spent in a daze of confusion. A lot of material was being thrown to me and my retention was around less than 10% of what I was being shown. I think the reason I was slow to pick up a lot of the material is because I had never had to use it. It was like learning another language; if you did not use it, you forget it.

But now I find myself in the position where I must constantly apply my knowledge. My retention has increased because the alternative is a higher frequency of getting my butt kicked.

A shift has recently occurred in my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu learning. In the very beginning there was too much to take in because I did not understand the application of my knowledge. But now I am seeking out new information from all over the place.

I remember the first time I was strangled by the triangle and the panic I felt as the darkness came heavy. I went home and visited to see if there was a way to get out of this strangulation. There was and I spent a great deal of time visualizing how I would apply the avoidance and escape. And when it was tried on me in my next class, I escaped not just once but three times.

There is no substitute for expert instruction or time applying knowledge on the mat. But I have found that in order to improve in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I need to spend time off the mat reading about, watching, and visualizing techniques, positions, and situations. When I am back on the mat, all that mental practice pays off.