Jiu-Jitsu Instruction Log

JGaulard

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I'll be using this thread to record any thoughts I have about instructing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If you aren't aware, I've been training since 2008 and currently hold the rank of black belt. I have trained primarily at three different schools, one in Glastonbury, CT (Giroux BJJ), one in St. Augustine, FL (Fighting Chance Fitness), and now in Farmington, ME (The Foundry BJJ). Each school was and is incredible in its own right and I have learned so much from all of my instructors and classmates. In between my full-time training at the aforementioned schools, I've visited and have trained at quite a few others. Let's see if I can remember them - they were in Middletown, CT, Marlborough, CT, Manchester, CT, Palm Coast, FL, New Haven, CT, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few more. They were all great. Some were very different from the others, but that's what I enjoyed most about the experiences.

Anyway, I now teach Jiu-Jitsu to a great bunch of students at The Foundry. They're a lot of fun to transfer my knowledge to and I thought that recording my thoughts, lesson plans, and other things that come across my mind in this thread might prove to be worthwhile. I'm not quite sure how yet, but I'm confident that I'll figure that out along the way.

I do want to mention one last thing before I continue on below, and I'm sure many other BJJ instructors can attest to this. While I have learned a good chunk of technique while progressing through my colored belts, I'm continuing to learn much more as I teach others. As an instructor, I really need to delve into the whys and hows of things more than I ever have as a student. So really, even though I've been teaching since 2016, I still think this is just the beginning. And what's strangest of all, I continuously think I'm actually getting worse at both technique and rolling. I attribute this to the ever growing expanse of knowledge I find myself seeking. At this rate, I'm not sure I'll ever think I'm there.
 
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JGaulard

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Okay, so here it is. This is my first installment of my instructor's log. I've got class tomorrow night and I've been considering changing things up for a while. I normally hold a warm up session that includes jumping jacks, push ups, crunches, triangles, leg lifts, up downs, and all the rest. This goes on for approximately 15 minutes. After that, we all get dressed in our gis and move onto the technique portion of class. From there, I'll cover either just one technique in detail and we'll practice that for the remainder of class or I'll cover a few less complex techniques and we'll, again, practice those for the remainder of class.

If there's one thing I've learned while teaching BJJ, it's that instructors need to feed their students and keep them occupied. These guys are like hungry piranha that want to be worked over and made to sweat. If an instructor gets lazy about teaching or keeping the students busy, the instructor will know it. People will complain and wander off into neverland. That's not a good thing. So I always get a bit more forceful during class. I don't take excuses, my tone is somewhat more harsh, and I hold people accountable. I've had good reaction from this.

Tomorrow I plan to switch up my routine. I'm going to start off with my traditional jumping jacks for a few minutes and then move into 50 crunches. The students will think it's the same old thing. After that, I'm going to ask people to partner up, high belts with low belts. I like to use the higher belts as assistant instructors. For five minutes for each student, we'll drill the bullfighter pass or matador pass. Whatever you want to call it. If you're interested, here's a video of exactly what we'll be doing.

BJJ Breakdown: How to Do the Matador Guard Pass Drill


After this, we'll continue on with what I consider review. What I'm attempting to do here is take concepts that we've gone over in previous classes and turn them into drills that we can knock out without a tremendous amount of instruction. And since we've recently gone over the armbar from knee on belly, we'll continue on with that. When one student has his knee on the other student's belly, I'll ask the top student to simulate a few punches to the face below (or just a simple push up defense/reaction from below). When that happens, the bottom student will raise his arms in defense and that's when the top student will slide his foot into the armpit of his opponent to take the armbar. Here's a great example of what I'm referring to from MMA Leach.

The Shotgun Armbar From Knee On Belly


And finally, I think we'll continue on with the push pull sweep that we were going over last week, but we'll turn it into a drill with a few details added. I think another name for this sweep is the hook sweep, but since no one has ever decided on continuity between names of moves before, we'll call it what we want. The thing is, once the top guy makes the sweep, we'll end it with the same armbar as above. Check it out.

Open Guard Sweep Push Pull Sweep


I think this will make for a good class. I always like to review concepts and add a few details here and there. It keeps the students on their toes and helps them with muscle memory, but it also keeps them entertained with learning new things.
 

JGaulard

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Well, last night's class didn't go quite as planned. While we got through some of what I had intended to get through, I found that some of the newer students weren't as up to snuff on the armbar and triangle techniques as I would have liked. This is why we need more of this drilling and repetition. Because much of this is included in "the basics" and I want to make sure these guys can do these moves in their sleep.

I had the students pair up, higher belts with lower belts. Then I had them do 24 armbars from guard, switching sides. I'm beginning to get into the switching sides thing because I feel that it'll make their games more well rounded. For 12 years, I've been relying pretty heavily on my "good side" and I feel as though if I had been forced to mix up my sides more in the beginning, I'd have more options today. So that's what I'm doing for these guys now.

The armbars took about ten minutes longer than I had wanted them to, mostly because the speed just wasn't there. I also had to do a bit of instructing along the way, which chewed up minutes. That's fine because we'll go over these things again next week and they should be faster to complete then.

The triangles were somewhat better. I again asked each student to perform 24 triangles on their partner, 12 on each side. This went well, but some of the guys who have shorter legs needed to make adjustments. I also had to teach along the way again, which wasn't my intention. I wanted the students to fly through these drills, but I have a strong feeling that this will come in time. They're smart students and they learn fast. So next week or the one after should be better.

These two drills consumed about 40 minutes, so I only had 20 minutes to cover the lesson for the night, which was just another drill. It was the matador guard pass drill into the shotgun armbar. The guys seemed to like this one and pick it up pretty quickly, so we'll continue on with that next week too. And then we'll move onto the push pull sweep into the shotgun armbar. I'm looking forward to that because that's a very sweet combo. Until then!
 
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JGaulard

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I think we'll attack the armbar again tonight. Perhaps we'll include variations of this technique on an ongoing basis. It's such a big part of the basics that I simply can't have students in my classes not knowing how to do it in their sleep. It's just one of those things. But...I don't want the beginning of class to be boring, so I plan on introducing variations into the same ol' move. That ought to keep people on their toes and will hopefully hammer home the basic functionality and purpose of the armbar.

I found another video of what I'd like to cover. Take note of how the instructor uses the collar grip to keep his opponent on top broken down. Essentially, this is the same armbar from guard as we covered from last week, but with a slightly new element introduced. Like the instructor in this video, I'd also like to focus on how the leg clamps down on the back, up as far as it'll go, in order to hold the top guy down and in place. As I like to say, "It's all in the setup." If you don't set a move up properly, you'll have a really tough time finishing it. And I hate getting lucky while rolling. I'd much rather act like a ratchet wrench and slowly crank along to the finish line.


By the way, I love how the instructor in this video speaks slowly and clearly. I can only hope to emulate this sort of thing one day. I have a real problem with getting ahead of myself as I teach.

As far as the oma plata goes, this is another move that's in the "basics" category and I'm not good with letting students go without becoming experts at it. With that in mind, I'd like to include this into our drilling as well. Now, the concept of this move is very straightforward. It's just a shoulder lock from a weird position. So if I can get that point across, I think we'll be in good shape. But like the armbar from guard, it's all in the setup. By the way, we'll be doing the oma plata from closed guard as well.

Here's a video that shows the oma plata the same way I recently covered it.


This instructor uses an interesting setup. In the video below, the instructor uses a more traditional approach. I think we'll use this one tonight as part of our drilling.


And after we're all done with 15 of each of these moves on each side, we'll move onto the lesson for the day, which will be the open guard push pull sweep into a shotgun armbar. That'll be fun. We didn't have time to get into it during last class, but I'm hopeful for tonight. I'll cover how tonight's class goes down below.
 

JGaulard

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We had a very good night of Jiu-Jitsu last night. Three black belts, one blue belt and the rest white belts. I tend to like it when there are a lot of white belts because that means I can really get into some of the more basic, yet effective techniques that I know of. While the more advanced stuff is definitely fun to cover, a lot of the newer guys have trouble with it. That doesn't mean that I won't cover some advance technique in the future. It just means that it'll take some time to figure out ways to simplify it so everyone understands.

Okay, so we began class with some basic warm up exercises and then we moved quickly into drilling the armbar from the video above. I must say that the students who drilled the other version of armbar from guard last week had no difficulty with this one, so I'm confident that drilling for BJJ works. It really does. Quickly learning a move, trying it out a few times, and then moving onto something new may be a lot of fun, but it sure doesn't pound the concept into the students' heads. You gotta drill.

After the armbar, we moved onto the oma plata. That went pretty well as well. Some students had some questions and a few of them screwed things up at times, but that's to be expected. Next week, we'll continue on with that and then move onto something else. I'll let you know what down below.

To finish up class, I introduced the push pull sweep into the knee on belly into the shotgun armbar. Those two videos are in a post that's a few slots above. Those are a really great sequence of techniques that are actually realistic as well. It was a lot of fun and after some cleaning up a few issues here and there, everything went smoothly. The students seemed to like the class overall.

I do want to mention something else. I gave a little talk at the end of class and expressed how pleased I was with the drilling. I told the guys that we'd be doing a lot more repetition and that while it's fun to cover new and exciting material, it's better to drill, drill, drill. They seemed to agree and a few of the guys told me privately that they actually prefer the drilling over learning new things all the time. So there's that.

I also got a great idea this morning that may prove to be a lot of fun. I asked another black belt (actually the owner of the club) to co-teach with me on a few select evenings. We were playing with a few different escapes from triple attack position last night when I showed him what I knew. Then he showed me what he knew and that's where my idea was born. Why not have a night where we both cover our respective escapes and treat it sort of like a seminar? I love it and he loved it, so that's what we're going to do.
 

JGaulard

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Just a quick break from my normal instruction log routine. I wanted to quickly mention that we promoted a classmate/instructor to brown belt last night. His name is Mike and he's an awesome guy. Everyone loves him and he's as tough as nails. I wasn't aware of this, but Mike recently turned 50 years old, which makes him the oldest of our crew. It's strange because back when I was a teenager, I thought 40 years old was old. Like, old man status. Now that I'm 47, I know better. I'm no where near old man status and neither is Mike. He can roll with the best of us.

To start out, Mike held instruction for about 45 minutes. He covered three different types of pressure passes, as that's a big part of his game. Each pass began on his knees as the typical over/under pass and then they evolved from there. Basically, it was the same pass three different ways. If you aren't familiar with the over/under pass in BJJ, here's an instructional video for you. There's a slightly different spin on the pass in the video, but most versions are similar to one another.


After he was done teaching, we did our typical shark bait, where everyone beats the promotee up, one at a time. The person being promoted doesn't stop and this was the case last night. It's been said that Mike rolled for 58 minutes straight, with white belts all the way up to black belts. Lucky Mike had five black belts in attendance last night and each of us rolled with him for six minutes. Crazy.

Anyway, congrats Mike! Well deserved. Now we've got another brown belt in our ranks.
 

JGaulard

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Tonight is going to be fun. I've got some good stuff planned for our ambitious students. I've decided that I'm going to continue on with some open guard sweeps. I'll incorporate the hook, sickle, and de la riva sweeps into a wonderful and all encompassing lesson. But before all that, we'll do some warm up drills to get the blood pumping.

To start off with, we'll do a few stand up guard passing drills. We'll get started with the one I described above and then continue on with one that holds more onto the inside of the knees. Sort of like a different version of the bullfighter pass. And finally, we'll have one guy on his back in open guard position while the other guy stands in front of his feet. The standing guy will attempt to pass the bottom guy's legs in an effort to touch the bottom guy's head. This is a highly active and very entertaining drill that's rather exhausting. They'll love it. Actually, maybe we'll do this one first.

As for the learning portion, I think we'll start off with a nice hook and sickle sweep drill that I learned from watching Emily Kwok on BJJ Weekly. Check it out:


After that, I'd like to teach and drill the actual hook and sickle sweep themselves, ending up in a combat base. Last time, we used the momentum of our falling partner to pull us into a standing position, but we're mixing things up this time. And, if time permits, I'd like to toss in the de la riva guard that transitions into the hook sweep. All the while, transitioning from the open guard into the combat base. It should be fun.

To see what I'm referring to in regards to the combat base, take a look at this video by Chewjitsu:

 

JGaulard

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Last night was excellent. It was probably one of the best classes I ever held. I was, as they say, "on my game." Not with my rolling, per se, but with my teaching. I had the guys drill a bunch as a warm up and received good reviews for that. The consensus is that getting a workout from Jiu-Jitsu related activities is much more beneficial than doing random exercises. I agree with that notion. Now I just need to find a bunch of basic warm up drills that I can incorporate into each class.

As for the class itself, it was sort of like just more drilling. I had the guys to the hook (push/pull, tripod) sweep for five minutes each. There were two variations of that one; one with a standing finish and one with a finish in combat base. Both were good. I was very confident with my instruction for these two techniques because I've done them forever. After the hook sweep, I quickly reviewed the sickle sweep. I emphasized the how minor the difference is between the two sweeps, which I think helped. Foot position can get tricky when trying to remember these two sweeps. Half way through that five minute session (for each guy) I said they could begin mixing the two sweeps together and alternating between the two. It was awesome seeing some of the students, who knew nothing prior to the class, alternate seamlessly between two of the most fundamental sweeps Jiu-Jitsu has to offer. It was a beautiful thing.

After that, I introduced the de la riva guard. I told the students that it was merely an introduction to de la riva and that we'd be going through a few actual sweeps next week. They loved it.

Next week, I think we'll be doing some escapes from side and scissor sweeps as warm up drills and then we'll again cover the hook/sickle sweeps as more warmup. Then we'll get into the de la riva for the instruction portion of class.
 
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