Thursday, November 12, 2009


Interesting Questions ???

HOW? Is a question most people ask frequently on the mat. How do I do this move? How can I escape from that position? And such questions are usually answered in terms of ‘this’ or ‘that’ technique. And there is nothing wrong with this approach – in fact, it is the most common way by which people arrive at solutions to all the mat problems they encounter. But another, far more interesting question to follow-up with, is the question that begins with the word ‘WHY?’. Why does holding his heel work better than holding his calf? Why does pressure on his far shoulder stop him from turning toward us? Why does pressure here stop that from happening? Etc. By working out the answers to the WHY questions, we gather information that can help many, many other techniques. By asking HOW, we usually only get information that is useful for a very specific situation.
A profound understanding of BJJ requires an in-depth understanding of leverage and applied bio-mechanics. The techniques we learn are the delivery-system for this understanding. The more we understand the concepts and principles which underpin the techniques, the easier it is for us to learn and understand new techniques.
Ask questions yes … but understand that different kinds of questions provide different kinds of answers and different sorts of knowledge.

On another note - I must apologize for an absence that I am about to take. I am off to new Zealand to conduct a round of seminars for my good friends there - a bit of work at the Police College - and then it's ten days in the backcountry mountains ... no internet access, no laptop, just my small backpack, my flyfishing rod and may hiking/fishing mate for company. I won't be back online till the 4th of December - when I arrive back home - around the exact same time that my American buddy Dave Meyer will be arriving. So more then ...
Warmest regards everyone ...

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I agree, an understanding of the concepts and principles behind your art is far more important and beneficial than just knowing techniques. It's similar to that old saying, give a man a fish and you will feed him once, show him how to fish and he will feed himself for a lifetime.

I also think the danger in showing just techniques to students is that you mold them into robots, capable only of copying what they see or what they are shown. Peter Consterdine wrote an article recently were he bemoaned what he called the "photocopy revolution", were many students blindly follow and copy what they are shown instead of questioning and breaking down the techniques into component parts to see exactly how and why they work. The danger of such rote learning is that, like a photocopy, the quality gets reduced with each new copy, or in this case, with each new generation of students.

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Thank you for sharing! I completely agree. I am a blue belt and look forward to continued improvement by learning more Why's than how's....

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