Miners of Nuance

This is something I learned a long time ago – in fact, I can’t quite remember when I made it a habit, but I have and it has served me very well: training ourselves to appreciate nuance and subtlety can not only deepen our personal experience of things but allow us to better interpret those experiences for others; hence, it is an integral in the professional instructors tool-kit.
Looking closely and thinking analytically about things is how we are programmed to interact with the natural world; it is how science works; it is how we deepen our understanding of things.
Some things are easy to ‘get a handle on’ pretty quickly; water is wet, we can drink it, swim in it, wash with it and drown in it. Other things seem much more complex and certainly, human interaction can be a very complex field of study. And the human combative dynamic can also be a very complex; and perhaps, the grappling face of that dynamic is even more complicated as we have physics, biomechanics, leverage and strategy at play.
The way I have developed what sense of nuance that I have regarding BJJ technique, is by taking that technique apart and breaking it down into it’s composite slices. Thinner and thinner slices – became my mantra; and one technique at a time, I came to deepen my understanding of the myriad parts that go to making up the BJJ puzzle.
Pick a technique, starting perhaps with the technique you feel you know best; and break it down to the point where you have a clear understanding of the various steps that go into it’s execution and the timing of those steps. Try teaching someone the technique; walking them through it, placing equal emphasis on each and every step of the process. If they seem at all unclear on any part of that process; then think about it for a moment, take another look at the process and see if you can insert another step or two – Ie: can you break it down even further. Generally speaking, the more steps there are in the process, the more replicable it becomes.
I sincerely hope that your experience is the same as mine; and that the more you undergo the process of breaking things down and looking deeply at them, the more your understanding will deepen. As my own understanding deepened, the more joyful my learning experience became the more excited and motivated I became to look even more deeply. Don’t wait, start today, immerse yourself in understanding and study – become a master of nuance.



Mar U. said…
Nice words of advice. Really hit the point of understanding the move better. That's what is lacking with modern practitioner nowadays. They became hasty during training, never understanding the basics.

I had completely analysed my submission moves through practicing alone with my jiu jitsu dummy. It is a really useful partner. I recommend it to fellow practitioners.
Matt Klein said…
Can relate to this John. Taught figure 4 arm bars for a few years before I realized that by pulling the arm down lower by just a few centimetres it was so much more effective. The devil is in the details.

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