(..and not fragmented techniques!)

When I first began coaching jiu jitsu a few years ago, I was guilty as charged with what John Danaher describes here as the ‘fragmental fallacy’. Show a sweep single to the class, have the athletes practice this back and forth (with an unresisting partner, no doubt), and then move on to the cool guard attacks—particularly leg locks—once everyone is good and warmed up!

You might note, too, the problems Mr. Danaher outlines here are not mutually exclusive. They actually feed off one another!

But recall a main principle here at HHGC, one which directs much of our training approach, and that which we hope is the antidote to the fragmentation Mr. Danaher describes—’skill is technique applied in context’.

Also remember—at risk of beating this drum too often—our eight main skills for winning the neutral position (i.e., standing wrestling):

– Stance

– Motion

– Hand-fighting

– Level changing

– Penetration

– Lifting

– Pivoting

– Back-bending/arching

Looking back in my early days of coaching jiu jitsu, at most we would address just 2-3 of these while I taught a ‘technique’, and because they weren’t applied in any combat context, no real skill was developed. Watch the back end of the clip, and you’ll see a consonant situation, which—in my experience—is representative of my bjj practice designs.

How to address this in your own practice design? First, get out of the mindset of teaching techniques…instead, create situations (i.e., grappling games) that resemble your competitive environment, and confine the objective of the training situation to any set of skills above. Again, the key here is creating CONTEXT through which new skills can emerge!

If all else fails, contemplate this principle–the athlete’s body doesn’t care what the coach says…

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