Steve Kwan - BJJ Mental Models

I talk to Steve Kwan of the BJJ Mental Models Podcast in a Crossover Episode! We talk about how his podcast has influenced his own game, the most important concepts he learned from his podcast guests and the debate over concepts vs techniques. Further, we discuss learning Jiu-Jitsu online and the multiple online learning platforms and instructions out there and how you can go about finding one that best suits your needs and improves your grappling.

Listen to Steve Kwan






[02:53] – How Steve’s podcast has influenced his own Jiu-Jitsu game
[06:09] – Top 20% of mental models that Steve finds relevant today
[08:09] – Understanding that no concept is absolute
[09:45] – Advice on developing the skill of knowing when to use certain concepts
[13:05] – Jiu-jitsu is fun and addictive in a way that a lot of physical activities aren’t
[16:04] – Mistakes people make in Jiu-jitsu
[19:09] – Downsides of trying to minimise everything completely to some principles
[22:36] – Tips for people interested in doing a reverse classroom model
[28:05] – Consistency is itself a mental model
[34:36] – Suggestion on choosing which jiu-jitsu subscription site you should try out
[39:04] – Mistakes people make while choosing a jiu-jitsu subscription
[43:06] – How you can incorporate your content into the game
[47:49] – The reason why jiu-jitsu struggled to attract people outside of the target demographic


How Steve Kwan’s Podcast has Influenced his Own Jiu-Jitsu Game

Steve has been doing BJJ Mental Models Podcasts for three years. He says his podcast is the biggest inspiration for his Jiu-jitsu game because, through podcasting, he is able to get access to some of the most brilliant people in the sport. Asking questions to them has proven way more helpful than any instructional ha has ever purchased.

The nice thing about doing the podcast is it allows him to meet intelligent people who either validate him or challenge him. It has allowed him to engage in Jiu-jitsu at a more conceptual level than people get when they’re just training. Especially during the pandemic, when he was not able to train for a long time, it helped him keep Jiu-jitsu in his mind while doing the interviews.

Problem with the Standard Three-part Class Structure

The big thing that most people don’t do when teaching is, adopt some degree of deliberate practice. Most instructors run their classes beginning with a warm-up, then a coach shows three techniques, and you copy them, and then there is live sparring. The problem is most people have a real hard time learning and adopting anything new out of that class structure.

Because what winds up happening is, when you’re drilling a technique that your coach showed you, you’re doing dead drilling against a non-resisting opponent, which is not a helpful way to learn. And then, when you go off into live sparring, you’re usually trying to win. And when you’re trying to win, you’re not going to be using techniques that you’re not very good at; you’re going to play your game.

Steve Kwan On The Three Mistakes People Make in Jiu-jitsu.

Anyone in Jiu-jitsu can immediately supercharge their defensive capabilities if they do these three things:

  1. Never let your opponent get control of your neck.
  2. Never let your opponent get control of your knees or your elbows.
  3. Never let your opponent settle their way down on top of you. 

You Need Both Techniques and Concepts.

You need both concepts and techniques. You can’t just have one or the other. If you only do techniques, and you’re never thinking at a higher level, then your jiu-jitsu game is basically just based on rote memorization. There’s not going to be any creativity there; you’re going to have a tough time adapting to unforeseen circumstances. And you’re going to have a very minimal understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing.

On the other hand, if you only do concepts, you’re going to have a hard time understanding how all of the stuff works in practice. So at the end of the day, this is a physical art, and it takes physical effort to get movement into your muscle memory.

There is No Substitute for Being in a Gym.

People went to zoom classes for Jiu-jitsu training during the pandemic, and something is better than nothing. But there’s no substitute for actually being in a gym. However, there is no question that other, more creative teaching methods can augment your knowledge.

The most obvious example is technique libraries and instructional videos. They’re not a substitute for training in class, but you’re going to get a totally different level of stuff than you would ever get just showing up for class.

So if your interest is in educating and ideally monetizing online, then don’t try to copy the practice of just doing Jiu-jitsu. Try to find the thing you can do uniquely that allows you to fill a niche that no one else has been able to fill.

Consistency is the BJJ Mental Model for Success

Consistency is in itself a mental model. You need to shoot as many shots as you can if you want to succeed over the long term because much of success is just being in the right place at the right time with the right skill set. And the only way that you can curate that and get into that situation is to just fire the revolver as many times as you possibly can.

So if you are interested in doing any online coaching or content creation, you need to be incredibly stubborn to the point where you just don’t give up easily, especially in adversity and failure. And you have to have an open, honest talk with yourself out of the gate about what I am willing to commit to on a forever roadmap.

Suggestions on Choosing A Jiu-jitsu Subscription Site

A lot of people don’t sign up for the subscription because they get overwhelmed by choice. There’s so much choice out there now that you can almost get analysis paralysis trying to choose which sites you want to use. But the good thing is most of the sites usually offer a free trial. So you should pick one, try it. And if you don’t like it, just cancel it.

Steve Kwan Resources

Steve Kwan Links

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