Developing a SMART Training Culture

The important thing to understand here is that if the whole school has a SMART CULTURE – and it is comprised of people working together, then it is hard to go wrong. Further to my last blog, here are some further considerations that may impact on how much we get out of our training.

- work a technique in it’s proper progression – and by that I mean start working it under ideal conditions (perfect storm concept). Then once you have a good feeling for the technique and can apply it automatically (under ideal conditions) – begin to add problems in – ONE AT A TIME. Do this progressively by starting with a slight deviation from the ‘perfect set of circumstances’ – eventually, evolving to being able to ‘MAKE THE TECHNIQUE HAPPEN’ even though the conditions/circumstances are far from ideal. For this you need good partners.
- Slowly begin to develop combinations that are based on the opponents reactions to our attempts at given techniques. Try the technique – see how our opponents react to it, then come up with ways to capitalize on these reactions. Do this as a project – one technique at a time – it’s a lifetime of work, and fun. But again, it requires a roomful of partners.
- Develop a TECHNICAL MINDSET. There is no such thing as ‘too technical’. Being technical comes from the development of a ‘state of excellence’. We should be mindful of always trying to deepen our understanding of every technique we do. How does it work – why does it work – what are the various components of the move – where are the best points of leverage – how do the mechanics of the move effect our opponent and what is the sequence of their unfolding? These are all good questions that we should be able to answer if we fully understand the given technique. Developing this ability takes practice – technical thinking is a habit – become good at it. I like to create a technical environment in my school – that way the whole school tends to cultivate this type of thinking.
- Be OBSERVANT. It is crucial that we all become very observant. Mindfully catalogue what happens when we do certain things. Learn to recognize patterns. It is how we make sense of the world.
- DIFFERENT OPPONENTS REQUIRE DIFFERENT SOLUTIONS. This is important to realise. Unless you can dominate all of your opponents in the way and fashion of your choosing (because you are far bigger and more technical) then you almost always need to change the way you fight different people. Sometimes you need to crush – sometimes you need to move – sometimes you need to be soft and sometimes, forceful. This variety is what makes the game fun.
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT SCHOOL. You may not have a choice is this – but if you can, do some research, Who is your coach – where does he get his training from – and perhaps even more importantly, what does his school FEEL like. What’s the atmosphere like. Is it full of smiling students who are looking after each other and having fun? If so, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that may of them are skilled. If the school has only a handful of scowling fighters – steer clear – your in the wrong place.

I hope these points help – best wishes,


Hi John,

What I loved about your advice in this blog was that it is true of school in Geelong. Here I have met a group of smiling, happy and supportive people that just make you want to train. I love that your advice and the reality of your school match. It supports all research I did before sending my girls to your school.

Also I really enjoy reading your blog.

Warm regards, Jen

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