Efficiency in Learning Techniques, Making Decisions and Mental Models for BJJ With Steve Kwan

I talk to Steve Kwan. Steve is one half of the excellent podcast BJJ Mental Models, he is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and works professionally at a tech company improving efficiency in process and operations. We discuss how he has taken lessons learned there and with the use of mental models how they can be applied to learning techniques and making decisions for jiu-jitsu. Also, how parameters and constraints can benefit learning and if the influx of information from social media and instructional could possibly benefit or harm the growth or development of Jiu-Jitsu training.

Podcast Transcript – Episode 025

Sonny Brown: Welcome to episode number 25 of the Sonny Brown Breakdown. I’m your host, Sonny Brown and in this episode, I talk to Steve Kwan. Now Steve is one-half of the excellent podcast, BJJ Mental Models and he’s also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and works professionally at a tech company in a leadership role where he looks at improving efficiency and process and operations. We discuss how he’s taken the lessons he’s learned there and with the use of mental models, how they can be applied to learning techniques and making decisions for jiu-jitsu. We get into the discussion about how parameters and constraints can benefit your learning and how influx of information from instructionals and social media could possibly harm or also help your learning process and really get into the details of how we use those mental models to act as a filter for teaching and learning jiu-jitsu. I’m a big fan of his podcast, BJJ Mental Models. It was an honor to chat to him and I really hope you enjoy it too. Again, if you’d like to get in touch with me, my email address is sonnybrown@gmail. I’m also active on Instagram where the address is Sonny Brown Breakdown. Please send me any feedback if you enjoy the episode and let’s go to the podcast. Steve Kwan. How are you today? My friend.

Steve Kwan: I am excellent today. It’s a beautiful sunny day over here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It’s great to finally get a hold of you. We’re in very different time zones, so I’m glad we were able to work this out.

Sonny: Thanks to the magic of the internet now. It’s pretty incredible what we’re able to do and the magic of zoom. As I was informed last night by one of the teens students, that’s why they call them zoomers because they’ve grown up now in zoom generation.

Steve: There’s going to be a whole world of people where this is how they connect, this is how they do things. It really makes you wonder if the world is actually going to go back to the way that things were. When we look at how things turned out a year from now, we might realize, you know what? Maybe you don’t need to hop on a plane and fly across the world just to shake someone’s hand and fly back again. Maybe we can just zoom for this stuff. It’s funny how no one knew what zoom was a few months ago, but now it’s just a household name. Even my aunt and my parents know what zoom is and they use it quite comfortably.

Sonny: Also apparently some security concerns with the Chinese government, but that’s for another talk. That’s another podcast.

Steve: There’s also the porn drop-ins, although I think they finally fixed that where just random pornography was showing up in people’s meetings. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. I would find that quite entertaining if that happened for me, but I can see how, if you’re in a board meeting that might not be desirable.

Sonny: I could see where that could take things a little bit off track, off the rails a wee bit. I want to start just off with just a little bit of your background. You’re obviously a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, you’ve started your own podcast that’s rather successful BJJ Mental Models. Just to lead us in, just a little bit of your background, what brought you to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and then how you ended up deciding that the podcast was the way to go?

Steve: Sure, Perfect. As you mentioned, I’m a black belt under Don Whitefield from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I’ve been training for over 12 years now. Both myself and my brother, Matt Kwan are black belts, although he is a black belt under Rob Biernacki from Island top team. We trained with different groups, we’ve got different paths. He runs his own gym On Guard and Pitt Meadows whereas I don’t, I’m a hobbyist. Jiu-jitsu for me has always been just a casual hobby. I’m not a competitor, it’s not a thing that interests me, which is interesting because for my brother, that is very much what he’s interested in. He is a full-time jiu-jitsu professional, both in terms of competing and also in terms of running his own gym. We’ve had very different approaches to the way we train. For me as a hobbyist, I can commit maybe a few hours a week to training. My goal is not to be the best in the world. My goal is to get as good as I can reasonably be given the time I can invest to stay in shape, to meet people, to learn, to think outside of the box, to learn new ways of thinking and also just to network and meet interesting people that I wouldn’t otherwise meet. Whereas for my brother, this is also his day job so very different experience from myself but what we’ve found over the years is despite the fact that we have these very different paths in jiu-jitsu, we came away with this, ultimately coming back to the same way of thinking. That is that it’s not so much about just grinding and putting more time on the mats. It’s about being efficient and coming up with ways to accelerate your learning, your retention and to get the most out of your training that you possibly can. For my brother as a competitor, his goal is to use any advantage he can to be better than he is and to improve. One of the best tools to do that is to look at ways to accelerate the learning and be more efficient on the mat. For myself, my goal is to be able to hang with these guys who do this full-time. I can commit maybe two or three hours a week. There are people out there who train eight hours a day, it’s going to be very hard for me to close the skill gap with them. For me, it’s all about getting as much out of those two to three hours that I can commit as possible. What I actually found is I take the lessons that I’ve learned in my day job, mostly centering around learning techniques and decision-making tools such as mental models and applying them to jiu-jitsu. After talking to my brother for a long time, we realized, you know what? We converged independently on these two different paths and maybe there’s a way that we can put together a nomenclature and a thinking model for how you can learn effectively at jiu-jitsu, that would benefit everybody. At some point, after talking about this a lot, we decided, you know what? We should just throw a microphone in front of us and maybe from there, we’ll be able to provide this information in a model and in a structure that is useful to other people out in the world. We started doing that back in the beginning of 2019. At the time we knew nothing at all about podcasting or how it was done. We thought it would be as simple as you just plug a crappy mic into your computer and you sit around and you just shoot the– that’s all you do, but it turns out it’s actually a much bigger, more complicated job than that as you know and it has quickly ballooned up into a much larger initiative. At this point, BJJ Mental Models, as you mentioned, has grown from this small podcast to a much larger framework and educational structure that we provide to grapplers all over the world. The podcast is the hallmark of what we do, that’s where we’re most known, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of educational material that we provide. That’s been a labor of love for Matt and I for a long time growing into a much larger commitments and of course, as you mentioned, the audience base has grown a lot too and we’re happy to see the size of that growth to the point where– I get told that we’re one of the better resources out there when it comes to podcasting. The reason I like podcasting as a medium is because it forces you to take away a lot of the crutches that people often rely on when they’re teaching something as kinetic as Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I think the thing is a lot of instructors, they just roll up and they show a technique and they say, “See, look what I did, do that.” They think that’s the end of their commitment. If someone does something wrong, they pointed out and that’s it. It’s not a very intelligent approach. It’s very monkey see, monkey do in terms of the way that you teach. A lot of online grappling instructionals basically follow the same pattern where you get to watch some high-level black belt do some cool stuff, but there’s a lot of talk about what they’re doing, but maybe not a lot of talk about why they’re doing it or how they’re doing it. The benefit to podcasting is by stripping out that visual element, we can only use our words and our ideas. That means that we have to really think about how we’re going to frame and explain things to our audience because you don’t have that visual element. I found that by putting that restriction on us, it forces us to think and explain in a much more conceptual level so that’s why we like doing podcasting as opposed to other mediums. Does that answer your question?

Sonny: Yes, definitely. I remember I think when you first started out, it was just a website with some articles, like a database on it with a few different mental models as articles just to begin with. I’m wondering what exactly is your day job that turned you on to the idea of mental models on– what are some of your favorite mental models to use as an example and what are they?

Steve: Sure. I work at a software company in Vancouver called Broadband TV. It’s a dominant player in the YouTube space. One of the biggest tech startups in the area. I’ve been with the company for a long time, about seven years and I’ve had the privilege of watching it grow from something small to something very large. My role right there, I have several hats, but basically, I have a bunch of leadership roles that involve process, operations and just efficiency across the board. My job is to take this big beast of a company and figure out ways that we can constantly streamline and make more efficient. A big part of efficiency is making the right decision at the right time. Now, my background, I have dual degrees in software engineering and I’ve been doing this for about 20 years. Really part of what I do is I help big tech companies especially be more efficient in their operations. When you’re talking about efficiency, you’re talking about doing things faster, doing things leaner, making better decisions quicker. So key when you’ve got millions of dollars on the line in single transactions, It’s very, very important to be very effective and efficient at everything you do. jiu-jitsu is really a microcosm of that. You’ve got a very small window of time to make an effective decision when you’re grappling, and if you screw up that decision, the results of your mistake are going to be very immediate and very measurable, which is one of the things I love about jiu-jitsu. If you are a desk worker, you might not get the feedback you need to improve for years. If you do something wrong, there’s no guarantee that your manager is going to come by and confront you and tell you, hey, here’s what you should have done. In fact, if your manager is not a particularly strong manager, you may never find out that you made a mistake and you may live the rest of your life thinking that you’re doing things optimally and never learned that you did things wrong. Whereas with jiu-jitsu, if I do something wrong, I will find out in half a second. [laughs] I do not require a big, long process. One of the lovely things about jiu-jitsu, is that a very small scale, you can try things and get immediate feedback in a way that you’re just not going to see out there in the real world. You can actually take a lot of those models that you use in jiu-jitsu and scale them up to much bigger problems. The stuff that I do on the job is fundamentally from the way I make decisions, not that different from what happens when I’m actually grappling. The only difference is I’m not choking somebody, but some of the concepts are the same. Scaling it back down, a lot of the decisions I use on the job, the tools that I use on the job are very similar to the way that I make decisions when I’m grappling. One of the those ways of thinking is something called mental models, which is the inspiration of the podcast. I first became aware of this learning tool from Charlie Munger, he’s Warren Buffett’s business partner, one of the most famous investors in the world. He famously talked about how you need to have a latticework of mental models in your head that help you make decisions. That kickstarted this whole cottage industry of mental models, which basically is where people think about how to think. The idea of what a mental model is, is you look for a piece of knowledge out there in the world or a pattern in the world, something that is a general rule of thumb or heuristic that you can use to make quick decisions relatively fast, and also quality decisions, not just quick, but also quality. In some cases, these might be absolute 100% true things. Gravity, for example, is a mental model. You can prove that with physics, it is 100% true all the time. Some other mental models, and actually, a lot of the more useful ones do not work that way. Of course, one that a lot of people have heard about is the 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, which basically states that if you take a whole group, a whole set of decisions or of entities, you’ll often find that 80% of the results come from 20% of the set. Where this often emerges in the real world is if you’re running a business and you want to talk about how to be more efficient, figure out which of your customers are making the most money. What you often find is that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. You’ve got this whole long tail of customers that you’re probably spending a lot of time and money serving and they’re actually not making you any money. That raises business questions about, hey, do I need to focus more on these big ticket customers and try to get more of those customers and not waste my time on these low value customers? Interestingly, as an example, you can take that same approach in jiu-jitsu. When you get to brown belt, black belt, a big part of the game is saying, okay, I technically know maybe 200 different techniques, but if I’m being honest with myself, the results that I’m getting are coming from a very, very small handful of techniques. How can I refine a game plan and tie those things together and start funneling into the moves that I’m good at, the positions that I’m good at and not worrying so much about the superfluous stuff that I never use?” In judo, for example, they have a whole concept for this, they call it your Tokui waza, which is basically your signature move. It’s like how in pro wrestling, all of the pro wrestlers have that one finishing move that always ends the fight. In the real world, Judo works that, too, Most Judoka have two, maybe three really killer throws that you’re good at. It’s all about having a bunch of different entries to get you into that throw. In jiu-jitsu, you see a very similar thing. You have people who are famously good at taking the back or famously good at playing the mouse and they’re always trying to funnel back into a small series of things. High level grappling is not always about knowing more moves, it’s actually about narrowing your focus to be the best in class at a particular style and a particular type of game-plan. There’s an example at a high level of what a mental model is and why this is useful in the world but it also is useful in jiu-jitsu as well.

Sonny: I think people can see then the benefit of that, it’s really just a way of framing different problems that you might come across as a way to help give you a guide to solve them.

Steve: Exactly. It’s a way of organizing your thoughts so that if you see the same pattern over and over again, instead of having to try to solve that problem repeatedly every time, you can allocate a little portion of your brain that says, oh, maybe this is a mental model, a rule that generally applies. If I see this circumstance, then I can just say to myself, aha, I know how I can probably solve this problem because I’ve seen something it before. There’s a lot of such rules in jiu-jitsu. Probably one of the most well known ones that I work with is the theory of alignment, which is the way that Rob Biernacki and the Island Top Team guys describe basically all of jiu-jitsu. If you’ve watched Rob’s instructionals with Stephan Kesting or if you’ve signed up to his online academy, then you’ve heard him speak about this. Basically, it’s a framework for understanding almost everything. Once you learn to think in that manner, then you can look at new techniques, and you can assess really quickly, okay, how can I make this tighter? Where are the weak points in this technique? Is it fundamentally sound? Is it going to work for me? It gives you a shared language and a shared way of thinking that you can just apply across the board. Learning to think in mental models is always one of the most efficient ways to advance quickly in any new craft or any new endeavor. One of the beautiful things about mental models is you often find that the learnings from one area of your life, you can start to see patterns in other areas of your life that you might not have expected.

Sonny: Great. On that topic of alignment, I actually did speak to Rory, one of Rob’s students and he went over that and gave us a good overview of that side of things. In terms of then using these models to learn faster, what would you say would be some of the drawbacks with the current standard style of teaching and learning that we see commonly in jiu-jitsu, that could be improved upon?

Steve: It’s maybe hard to give a universal blanket answer there because every instructor is different and every instructional product you can buy is different. I don’t want to make a blanket statement about how the whole world is doing this or that. Generally speaking, at least when I was growing up in jiu-jitsu, and when you are as well it used to be the case that if you went to buy an instructional DVD, it was usually just 100 random techniques. There was really no unifying theme behind all of them, there was no explanation as to how these tie together into a framework. In fact, a lot of the time, it felt like the instructor didn’t even want to necessarily teach you how to be better. They wanted to just give you a random grab bag of cool stuff that you’ve never seen before. It used to be the case that you’d see some World Champion put out a DVD and they’d be talking about, how to do flying Omoplatas and stuff that has no real fundamental use but it’s more about– it felt like massaging the instructors ego. I would argue that a lot of seminars are structured this way, where you go to a seminar, and you’re there for maybe two hours, and the instructor just gives you 12 random techniques, and mostly, they’re exotic and not particularly useful. Whereas some of the best seminars I’ve been to are just discussions of very basic things, but in a very, very specific level of detail that you might not have thought of before. I’ve been to seminars. The last one I did, for example, with Rob Biernacki, it was I think over two hours. He did one technique. He did the cow trailer ankle lock. That was it. He talked about that for two and a half hours. It was not boring or repetitive at all but it was such a deep dive into that move that you get a lot more value than if you just shown a whole bunch of weird things left and right. I do think that as an industry, the quality of instruction has gotten better. For me, the first time I really noticed a turning point here was Ryan Hall. He was the first guy that I saw who didn’t just show moves, but talked about concepts and principles. Of course, now we’ve got the Danaher team, we’ve got Rob, of course, and I think most instructors take a much more systematized approach to how they want to teach their students. I think, though, a lot of instructors still make the mistake of coming into class and being like, “We got three moves today. 1, 2, 3, we’re done.” They don’t really talk about how they fit them into a framework. The way that I like to teach personally and I do not claim that this is the best way is I like to tie them back to mental models. For example, rather than teaching a one and a half hour class and talking about all of the different ways that you can do an X pass, what I might do is come in today and say, let’s not even worry about the techniques. Let’s talk about one particular mental model. Let’s talk about, for example the elbow-knee connection, you’ve probably heard of people described this. Basically, the idea that as a general rule, you don’t want to leave a giant gap between your elbow and your knee because it exposes your stomach area. It lets people cut your body in half. It lets people grab and pull on your arms and your legs more strongly. Generally, if you stay more compact, it’s going to make it harder for people to control you and harder for people to sweep you or pass you. Rather than going into all of these different variants of the move, what I like to do is create a mental model sandwich where I’ll start the class talking about here’s how this elbow-knee connection works. Then I’ll show maybe two or three examples of how that manifests in practice, like here’s how this works when you’re trying to recover guard from side control or here’s how this works when you’re trying to do a knee cut pass. Then at the end of class of class, I’ll sandwich that back up and tie that back to the original concept to say, okay, we covered these three things today, here’s how this all changed back into this one big mental model and you can forget about the techniques we talked about today. Those don’t really matter so much, but what matters is that you understand at almost all times, you want to keep your elbow and your knee gap close together, keep that tight. If you take one thing away from this, I don’t care if you remember the 12 steps to how to do a knee cut pass but what I care about is don’t leave that gap exposed. If I can get that into my student’s head, then that is going to reap benefits to them throughout their entire journey whereas, if I teach them a knee cut pass and it just so happens that they don’t like the knee cut pass or they’re not good at it, that might prove to be a useless experience to them. My goal is to always give them thinking tools because much like investing, rather than just giving them one thing, I’m giving them something that is going to compound over time and help expand their knowledge in unexpected and novel ways over time.

Sonny: I really like that way of looking at as an investment with the giving them the mental model over the technique. Also in terms of seminars, I’ve noticed the same thing, the best seminars I’ve been to, we’ll spend just the whole time, just looking at one area or in a bunch of different things around that area or that single move and then even if you forget one thing that they’ve shown, you’ve still likely retained enough from that particular move or area that you can still replicate it effectively. Following onto Ryan Hall and especially probably his open elbow DVD, when we’re talking knee-elbow connection, his open elbow DVD, now when I watch it is one of the most important things that I’ve ever seen. Wow, this makes so much sense when I look at it but back in the day, I remember when I watched it, I was thinking, where are the moves here? Show me some more flash and possess. Part of that is a reflection of my own journey and my own level of where I’m at and what I’m looking for but I’m wondering what you would think is the best way then to actually make that connection for people earlier on where they can see those benefits earlier on because a lot of just want to see moves.

Steve: The reality is when you are a white belt especially, you don’t know the most effective way to start your journey. Additionally, we’re attracted to flashy, cool, sexy things. Everyone goes through a phase where they want to do berimbolos and flying armbars and stuff. Most people eventually grow to that phase. They may still use those techniques, but it becomes a less of a priority and less of a pillar of the game. I know a lot of white belts and blue belts where the first thing they’ll try and do is flying armbar every time. Then eventually, they’ll come to the point where they realize that doesn’t work and you train them out of them. The way that I like to really drive this home to my students in my class is basically by just being a total nuisance. What I’ll do, if the message that I’m trying to communicate for the day is elbow-knee connection, what I will do is just repeatedly do that to them while I’m sparring. If I’m training with a white belt and I want to make sure that the message really stuck, I’ll maybe let them pass my guard or try to pass my guard and I’ll just keep an elbow-knee connection and just, they can’t do it and I’ll just explain, this is an elbow-knee connection. The reason you can’t pass is because I’m keeping this gap closed. Then when I get on top, I’ll knee cut them and I’ll say, so that was the elbow-knee connection. That’s why that works and I’ll just over and over and over again, drive home what I did and how I did it. I think that, again, it all comes down to immediacy of feedback and to me, nothing is more helpful than getting that feedback right while it’s happening. The reality is you often don’t get that experience when you’re sparring because way too many people try to turn on the gym training time into the Mundials. They’re there to win and hey that’s fun and all, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t really improve everyone’s learning to the extent that it would, if you use that as a platform for learning. As the senior ranking guy in the class, when I’m sparring– granted, if I’m sparring with a brown belt or a black belt, I’m probably just trying to stay alive but if I’m sparring with a white belt or a blue belt, I will continually talk to the person and give them feedback as we’re going and say, so by they way I’ve dragged them, I’ll say right away, that happened because your arm was not tucked in tight. You need to keep that elbow-knee connection, just constantly reinforce it. That way, to your point about the Ryan Hall DVD, yes, you might not remember all of the details, all of the different variants of the techniques that he showed but if you take away that one core message that is a foundational item and everything else builds on top of it, that’s really all you need because then you can freestyle the rest. If you have a solid understanding of the fundamental movements and mechanical principles of jiu-jitsu, you actually don’t need to remember all of the steps to do an armbar, it just falls into place because the fundamental movements. That’s what I try to teach is not specific variants of moves, but make sure people understand these fundamental movements that power, everything else that we do.

Sonny: That’s a good way of looking at things. You’ve also highlighted there, the importance of feedback in helping people learn and helping students get that feedback and go through the process of failing and understanding themselves, why something doesn’t work to make what does work stick with them. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about is just ways to help increase that feedback across all the students because obviously as you mentioned there, you’re the one giving the feedback but if it’s just the instructor giving that feedback, then they’re obviously limited by how many people they can get around to per class. What are some of the ways you think that we could possibly increase the amount of feedback given between students?

Steve: This ties into one of my favorite new areas of evangelism within jiu-jitsu. That is that we need to change the culture. To your point, if you’re the ranking black belt, you can’t provide that level of standard and care to every single one of your students or maybe you can when you’re small, but when the gym starts to grow, it just becomes less feasible. You need to aggressively focus on managing and building the culture that you want to see. That means teaching your lieutenants and the other black belts, brown belts, purple belts, that this is the effective way to learn and making sure that they then do that to their students, to the students as well, when you’re not there and they propagate that learning down. Basically, you need to not just try to be the only person who’s doing the right thing, but you need to try to ingrain these habits into the people around you such that they then are able to propagate that knowledge down in your absence. Basically it’s like, if you’re trying to build a company, the CEO can’t make every single decision and a big part of growing a company is– and one of the growing pains that every company gets to is at some point, there’s going to be an internal revolution and they basically tell the CEO, you’ve got to delegate a little bit more. You’ve got to be more hands off and let us do the job. In jiu-jitsu, you tend not to have that discussion with your gym. I don’t know exactly why. I think because there’s unfortunately a little bit of black belt worship that we see in jiu-jitsu, but ultimately what the instructor needs to do is be willing to push down more control and more best practices to their second in commands and their lieutenants so that they then can share that knowledge with everybody else at the gym.

Sonny: That makes a lot of sense to be able to foster that culture within the gym, with point within a company. One of my– not favorite sayings, but a saying I do like to refer to when talking about cultures is from someone else. I can’t remember exactly who it was, but it’s the idea that culture eats policy for breakfast, which is, we might be able to then set a policy, hey, everyone do give feedback and if you’re a blue belt, make sure you pick a white belt and help them out but then the actual culture that’s been already built within that gym is just going to overrule whatever policy that you try and set to make a change.

Steve: Exactly.

Sonny: What would you think would be the best way to build that culture or to develop that culture when for most people something’s already going to be in place?

Steve: To your points, to tie into what you said there, as you know, culture is not what you say you’re going to do, it’s what you’re actually going to do. You can put together a code of conduct and say that our gym does not tolerate X, Y, Z, but if your gym actually lets things slip through the cracks and maybe there’s some bad behavior and you cover up for one of the instructors or something, that speaks much more to your culture than anything that you stapled up to the wall. It’s all about leading by example and then not just that, but also telling the people at your gym that you want them to also foster this example but the best thing that you can do as is the case– Leadership is not about telling people what to do. It’s about doing the right thing, such that it inspires other people to follow in your lead. As an instructor, one of the best things that you can do is be a pillar of your community to share these best practices that you want to share, to share this positive message and a lot of that could mean going out and engaging the community, going beyond your gym. Part of the reason why we do the podcast is because we wanted to take a stand on thinking intellectually about jiu-jitsu. Everyone likes to think that jiu-jitsu was the thinking man’s martial art. That’s true to some extent, but let’s actually do some real deep thinking about it then, let’s have that conversation. The more people who come out there and take a stand and share the knowledge that they’ve got, the more that we see these examples in our community that people are going to want to follow. I always encourage people, if you’ve got good ideas, share them openly and freely, don’t buy into this whole secret knowledge thing where you don’t share anything outside of your gym. All of the best instructors in the world now, they understand that free sharing of knowledge is foundational to raising the tide for all of us. John Danaher, for example, the amount of knowledge that that guy and his crews share is ridiculous. They don’t by any means appear to be particularly worried about people stealing their techniques. They are willing to share this stuff and it reaps benefits for everybody including them. I think that if you want to encourage that attitude, the best thing to do is to be that leader yourself and show people how it should be done and encourage them to follow that path as well.

Sonny: I was actually reading a discussion online about the idea of creonite the other day. I was thinking that hey, I might take things one step further now and if someone watches an instructional from another instructor, maybe that can be considered then that they are a creonite because there’s been such a big change in how things are done that especially with BJJ fanatics, pushing instruction was very hard that I’m sure everyone’s seen one of their ads from somewhere. It seems much more acceptable that you’re going to be buying instructionals and learning from someone else at home that it’s changing the culture in a way. How do you think those instructionals and all these elements, people are going home, listening to podcasts and watching these instructionals, how can these influence the culture from a bottom-up perspective?

Steve: I think just their sheer existence does in a lot of ways. Even beyond instructionals, I think the stance on social media that you see people like Danaher and his crew, even like Stephan Kesting and all of these guys where they freely sharing this information, sets a very positive example for the rest of the community. I think you could argue that it has made a big difference. I can’t speak to everywhere in the world, but here in Vancouver, generally speaking, the Vancouver community is very open. Cross-training is not just permitted, it is encouraged. Most gyms, they will freely let you swing by and just train and hang out. The free sharing of knowledge and the building of the community is key for everyone. There are maybe one or two gyms in Vancouver that are more isolated on an Island where they still adopt that approach of like, these are our walls and you will stay within the gym and you will not train elsewhere and lo and behold, those are usually not the gyms that are cleaning up on the competition scene. I worry that that approach over time leads you very much down the road that a lot of these traditional martial arts have gone to where, because they’re not sharing their ideas and ultimately not getting feedback about whether their ideas even work, over time those arts get diluted to the point where they don’t even work anymore. My brother, for example, on the podcast has repeatedly criticized GB’s continent program because they’re basically conducting competitions only for their own team, but by doing that, it makes the art a little bit more incestual. You’re only training with your own guys. You’re not being exposed to external ideas anymore. To some extent, if you really close the borders in that manner, then you don’t have that constant external pressure from outside schools that’s forcing you to be better. I worry that if people all segment off and you’re not allowed to train with anyone else, then we’re going to wind up one of these other martial arts where all you’re doing is katas and it doesn’t even matter if it works anymore whereas one of the beautiful things about jiu-jitsu is that it’s very scientific and it’s very, very, battle-tested. It’s a very easy to prove that jiu-jitsu works. I worry that if you’re not constantly going out there and exposing your jiu-jitsu and facing new challenges, you’re not getting that feedback in terms of how to improve. I definitely do think that the leaders in our community have started openly sharing their knowledge. That has very much created a positive top-down message that other gyms then picked up on.

Sonny: That’s very interesting that you would highlight the people staying more traditional as being a way to dilute the art into other traditional martial arts when I think they would probably see it as people changing the way things have always been done as the road to diluting the art and going into traditional mindset. How would you square it off with someone who was taking that point of view that, hey, any change is going to be a negative as it’s taking us away from what made jiu-jitsu to get where it is?

Steve: You’re basically talking about the appeal to purity, where someone says, our interest is in adhering to the pure version of the art as it was originally intended and my concern with that approach– appeals to purity usually don’t end very well. It’s not a strong argument to take because there isn’t necessarily anything valuable about doing things just the way they were always done. That is not necessarily better. The concern usually what those people are talking about is that all from a self-defense standpoint, you’re not supposed to be pulling guard. You’re not supposed to be doing berimbolos, you’re not supposed to be doing spider guard, all of this stuff, waters the art down. To some extent, that can be a valid argument. You could very easily argue that judo’s effectiveness over the last 100 years has been reduced due to changes made at the Olympic level where they’ve stripped out certain types of takedowns and stuff. I think it would be reasonable to say that although judo is still clearly an effective martial art, it definitely has had some of its key tools removed from it. You can make the same argument from jiu-jitsu. A lot of the stuff that we can’t do, like knee reaping, for example or the disallowance of heel hooks completely eliminates a whole avenue of the martial art that would make it otherwise effective. I think those are very valid concerns, but I don’t think the right answer is to do things the way that they had always been done. I think if you were to build a time machine and go back and see what Hélio was doing in the early 20th century and compare that to what the guys are doing now, I think it would be pretty clear that there has been exponential improvement. Even looking back 10, 15 years, I think it’s pretty clear there’s been exponential improvement. I do think that it is worth continuing to guard the rules so that they don’t get that diluted but if we’re going to be honest, I don’t see it. Novel techniques, like berimbolos and stuff, yes, they crop up but usually these are tricks in a lot of cases. A lot of the time, when something new and novel comes up, as soon as people start to understand how it works and how to shut it down, that’s when we find out if this is a long-term sustainable thing or really more of a fad. Because the techniques that are worked by obscurity, meaning they only work because the other guy hasn’t seen them before, if those things are not fundamentally sound, give it a year or two and those things will just disappear on their own. If it turns out that they are fundamentally sound, they will hang around. I think that again, jiu-jitsu is not perfect from an MMA/self-defense standpoint, but I don’t really see this big dilution of quality that the purists would argue we’re seeing. I would say that if anything, if you were to go back and build a time machine and sound like Gordon Ryan to go back and fight Hickson in his prime, I don’t think Hickson would win. I think the bar has– and this is the case not in jiu-jitsu, but in every sport, the bar over time goes up over time. That’s how advancements work. It’s great to treat the past with some degree of reverence and to respect where we came from but that doesn’t mean there’s value in doing things the same way, just because.

Sonny: It seems wild to think that even just stating that Gordon Ryan could probably beat Hickson might be a controversial statement for a lot of people that there might be some degree of your– that’s heresy to even suggest that but–

Steve: It’s just, it’s the time. Hickson is one of the greatest, no one is saying he’s not, but it’s just that, the reality is we have a lot more knowledge of what regular competitors are actually capable of. Hickson only has 11 MMA fights on record. He makes these claims to have 400 fights, but even his own family has disavowed that claim, whereas with modern competitors, we have a much better understanding of what they can do and things like the modern leglock system didn’t even exist back then. It’s easy to go after someone if there’s a massive hole in their knowledge to exploit it. I’ve been there when my daughter was born I took about a year-and-a-half off of jiu-jitsu and during that time, the leglock scene really exploded. When I came back, I wasn’t even that out of shape in the grand scheme of things, but man, there was a period where I remember I was sparring with a blue belt who I outweighed by 40 pounds. This guy was tiny. He tapped me 12 times in five minutes. It was so embarrassing. It was because I’d never seen this entire game. I never thought that this could happen. I never wasn’t used to people just diving for my ankles. It took me a good six months to catch up and learn how to shut down that type of game. If there’s a hole in your knowledge, it’s very much like the Trojan Horse. It doesn’t matter how good your fortifications are, if there’s one big gaping weakness and someone can exploit it, that’s not a knock-on Hickson , it’s a knock on the evolution of knowledge over the past 30, 40, 50 years.

Sonny: It’s interesting there that you’ve described maybe what would be considered that– describing something that is a step away from a traditional mindset of Jiu-Jitsu thinking. That has actually reinforced one of those great traditional tropes of the smaller person being able to beat the bigger person with the increased level of knowledge that that’s actually one of the beautiful things of Jiu-Jitsu that you’ve encountered.

Steve: Yes, definitely. It gets harder when you get to the higher levels because when you’re training with other black belts, when the skill level is relatively equivalent, then the other variables start to come into play. The reality is, if you are a brown or a black belt, I don’t care what the size disadvantage is. You could be fighting like Brock– not Brock Lesnar because he knows how to fight. [laughs]

Steve: You could be fighting an untrained Brock Lesnar equivalent and I’m very skeptical that they would be able to take on a good brown or a black belt regardless of size. The way that I think of it, is that Jiu-Jitsu really, it’s an art, that’s all about leverage. The one thing about Jiu-Jitsu that’s really fundamentally interesting, the idea is to get leverage from really any position, including the bottom. Now granted leverage will only get you so far. Your force is like a multiple of your strength plus the leverage you have. If you have crazy leverage, but zero strength, anything times zero is still zero. Athleticism does come into play, but at the end of the day, if you’re fighting some untrained brute, a very, very simple Jiu-Jitsu technique is enough to work against them if your skill level is high enough. I think we move away from that because there’s so much quality grappling now. We see people in the same weight class, just the highest levels and we see that athleticism matters. I think a lot of people forget that you’re talking about world-class athletes here. For the average person, if you have sufficient knowledge of how to use leverage, you will be able to handle yourself against pretty much almost anybody.

Sonny: That’s a good point and in keeping them with the idea of the cross-training and instructionals, opening Jiu-Jitsu up to more avenues of exploration, what then is the main filter to make sure that it still remains relevant and applicable to stop the dilution? Is it just the framework of leverage or putting it through some of those mental models?

Steve: It’s all about the ruleset. One of the great concepts that one of our listeners actually wrote in and asked us to codify. We actually have an article on this on our website now is the concept of win conditions. Which is that whenever you’re playing any game or any competition, it is very important to know what the criteria are for winning and to reverse engineer from there. Yes, your technique is a major advantage, your athleticism is an advantage, your size is an advantage, but a very common and forgotten advantage is your ability to understand and play to the rules. If you understand how the rules work and you can leverage those, you can beat people in the competition who are technically better than you in every other manner. Famous example is, of course, Mackenzie Dern versus Gabi Garcia who won by what? I think one penalty point. That’s a situation where she went in with zero advantages, except better she was able to handle herself under the rules better. There is a great anecdote about this from Tim Ferriss in his book, The 4-Hour Workweek. He opens up the book talking about how he became a martial arts national champion or something.

Sonny: San Shou it was.

Steve: Basically, all he did was he looked in the rule book, he found some technicality about how, if you push the other guy out of bounds, three times you win, so that’s all he did and he won. He became a national champion with the ugliest, most awful, hideous version of martial arts that you’ve seen, but what works, works. I think that what that speaks to is the importance of having a ruleset that reflect the reality of Jiu-Jitsu. That’s what I think we have to keep sacred, if we want Jiu-Jitsu to remain relevant and applicable for self-defense and for MMA. We need to make sure that we don’t do anything to the ruleset that would water it down. Now, I am not a huge fan of the IBJJF as an institution, but I do like the ruleset for the most part. I think that the ruleset, although not perfect, I would make some changes for sure, but I think it very clearly encourages you to play dominant positions and to do Jiu-Jitsu the right way. I think that that ruleset, as long as we can keep a ruleset that doesn’t encourage all sorts of weird sporty variants, I think that’s all it really matters. I would say that the best thing that we could do is make sure that whatever changes we make at the rules level, trickle down into every other aspect of Jiu-Jitsu. Just make sure that people are always motivated to follow these rules such that they’re grappling remains quality. If they were to, for example, change things such a way that– I would already argue that takedowns are not prioritized enough in Jiu-Jitsu. If they were to make a change where they eliminated the points for takedowns or even if they just set it up so that sweeps got you more points than takedowns, that would be disastrous. The impact would be that there would be a much greater incentive for people to pull guard and we don’t want that. That’s not to say that guard is necessarily bad. I actually am okay with people taking the bottom position if they know what they’re doing, but you always want to encourage from a fight perspective that people take the dominant initiative from the top. That’s an example of where like a subtle change could really impact the way that people train. I would say that the one big weakness in the IBJJF is the limitation on heel hooks and leg reaping. There is a massive, massive, fundamental weakness in the art that stems from our inability to do those moves. If you were to put me in control of the IBJJF and asked me to make a few rule changes, the big things I would say is that reaps are legal from purple belt and up. Heel hooks are legal from purple, brown belt and up. That would be the big change I’d make.

Sonny: I hear you on that. The general fundamentals of the ruleset, I think is great because it’s still tight-down, past guard, get the mount or back, go for your submission is still reinforced as one of the key ways to victory in that. One thing I have noticed that seems to be perhaps unique in Jiu-Jitsu and I wonder if you’ve noticed the same thing is that, it seems to be a sport where a lot of competitors will enter without quite having full understanding of the rules of the sport.

Steve: Yes, for sure.

Sonny: I guess, there’s that element where that happens because people just think of it more as that fight. It’s a fight, I know the rules of the fight, beat the other guy, make him tap, you win. Do you think that there is that battle between that sport side and the fight side or just, “Hey, is submission only the only ruleset that should matter?

Steve: That’s a tricky one. There’s something novel about the idea of a submission-only fight. It sounds like you should think, “Holla, a submission is a submission. Once you get that, you win.” I’ve changed my thinking on this. I believe that the IBJJF ruleset now is, from a practicality standpoint superior to a submission-based ruleset for a variety of reasons but the main one being in the real world. If we’re talking about what martial arts are actually for. Martial arts are not for cage fights. That’s a sport. Martial arts are for self-defense at the end of the day. In the real world, if I get you in a chokehold and I choke you. Then you tap and I let you go; I have no indication that you’re not just going to get up and kick my ass again. That’s the thing. The reality is, most people, I think, who train Jiu-Jitsu don’t want to be violent. If I put you in a twister, let’s say it’s a self-defense situation. If I get you in a twister somehow, what am I going to do? I’m not going to kill you? Am I going to break your neck? Of course not, that would be ludicrous. I would much rather knee-ride you and hold you there till the cops arrive because martial arts are about de-escalation. At least martial art is supposed to be about de-escalation. Although there is something romantic about getting the sub, I actually think prioritizing positional control is more important, especially for the art that we train. Bring me back though, there was a specific question that you had, and I think I may have deviated a little bit off on it.

Sonny: Oh, I think I just started with the idea of people not knowing the rules while entering in the competitions.

Steve: I think I’ve definitely noticed that too. I would guess that it’s probably for a variety of reasons. One being that out of the gate Jiu-Jitsu is a fundamentally complicated martial art to get your head around. A lot of other martial arts or just much less dynamic in terms of the number of things you could possibly do. Jiu-Jitsu, there’s a lot of moving pieces. There’s a reason they call it human chess. The hardest part I think for Jiu-Jitsu in terms of learning to be good at it, is just tracking your mind where all of your arms and legs are and where your opponent’s arms and legs are at any given time. As a result of that, the ruleset is just inherently more complicated than if we were doing kickboxing. There’s a lot of things you have to think about. Try to explain to a layperson what like knee reaping is. It’s absolutely a bizarre thing when you think about it, “Oh, well, your leg can go this way but not this way.” It’s incredibly complicated. I think just the nature of the complexity of Jiu-Jitsu, makes the ruleset complex to the point where people fully don’t understand it. I would also say that though, for a long job the IBJJF did not do a great job of communicating out what the rules were. It has gotten much, much better. I remember back when I was training, just getting a straight answer on a very simple question was incredibly hard. A lot of the time, even at the highest levels, the refs didn’t seem to have a consensus on what the rules were. They would sometimes call something a DQ and sometimes wouldn’t. I remember spending months at the blue belt level trying to figure out, “Am I actually allowed to attack like a top side ankle lock?” In fact, I’m still not sure if I can do it. I think there’s two sides of it. One is, lack of clarity from our leadership level, from the IBJJF. Another is just the fundamental complexity of the art. I think as a result of that and also the just the romantic nature of this being a “fight”, which honestly, it’s not, but I know a lot of people like to think it is. Because of that, I think a lot of people just go in there with tunnel vision. They want to get the submission, and they do that to their detriments. Learning to play the rules is so important if you want to actually take this seriously as a competitive sport.

Sonny: Yes, that was certainly me in blue or purple belt. [laughter]

Sonny: I had bad habit of giving up as many points is, as I felt I could while still just searching for the sub. I think that it brings up a good point of the benefit of rules and constraints, placed on a just, I guess, any art to produce something that’s more desirable than just a bit of a free for all. I think we see with some sub-only matches; you can see things just being given away that is only being able to work because punches aren’t involved and may not be technically good Jiu-Jitsu but it works for that ruleset. With that benefit of constraints and limiting rules in mind, taking it back into the gym, what are some of the best constraints that maybe people can put on themselves to help learn or maybe that you could put on to a class to help students learn Jiu-Jitsu more efficiently?

Steve: Are you talking about, specifically, in the context because you mentioned strikes? Are you talking specifically about defending from strikes?

Sonny: Maybe not just defending from strikes, but I know that we can make people work on certain positional sparring, would be one way to put a constraint onto a class or just if you’re rolling maybe you’re only going for a certain move. Is there other ways that you can think of, just that benefits of constraining your training maybe that’s those self-imposed limits?

Steve: Yes, innovation comes from constraints. An example I always love to give is, we live in this Twitter world now and Twitter is a bizarre thing when you think about it. For the longest time, the defining characteristic for Twitter was you could only send the messages that were 140 characters long. It was constrained by, at the time, the length of a text message. The fact that they quit that constraint on their platform, actually created an entirely new way of communicating. That at the time in the tech world we called it microblogging. The idea being that you’re not posting these 800-word essays out there, but you’re just sharing a thought. It creates this ongoing stream of consciousness, and it’s created a whole new means of communication. Sometimes one of the best practices for innovating is to put constraints around yourself and see what you can do within those constraints. In the case of how that can impact your training, positional sparring is one example, but I would walk the concept back even further. A mental model that we’ve discussed on our podcast is, training with purpose. Meaning that what most people do is they will go to class, and they will just roll. They don’t actually have an action plan for what they want to achieve that day or how they want to get better. I think one of the best things that anyone can do to improve Jiu-Jitsu on a day-by-day basis is before you do any training sessions, think in advance about what your goal is for that day. Like, “What do I want to get better at? What is the area that I want to improve in?” Make a conscious effort do to do that during that class, and then reflect on it afterward. A big part of that is by putting parameters on yourself. This is important because, like it with anything, in Jiu-Jitsu you build habits. Habits are often good, but sometimes they can close your mind to other possibilities. If you only ever do the scissor sweep, and you get to the point where you’re so good at doing the scissor sweep, if you decide to introduce something else into your game plan it’s going to be hard because your mind doesn’t go there right away. It’s going to be demoralizing because you suck at it. [chuckles] You’re going to fall back onto the scissor sweep because you’re good at that. If you decide, for example, “You know what? I want to have an awesome hip bump sweep.” Before you go to class, you set a goal to train with purpose. You say to yourself, “I will make this commitment to myself. Whenever I get into that guard position, I will go for the hip bump sweep. I don’t care if I think it’s a good idea at the time. I don’t care if I want to do this scissors sweep. I will do the hip bump sweep.” Then after class, you reflect on that. You ask yourself, “Okay, well first of all, did I do what I said I was going to do? Also, what went well? What didn’t go well? How can I adapt this? What are the learnings?” Then you take those learnings and you use them to make another commitment for your next class. You say, “Okay, well, the problem with my hip bump was that I was not getting my hips high enough. I commit to my next class; I will raise my hips even higher.” You build incremental goals and you take things down so that every single training session has a discrete purpose. Part of that could be positional sparring. If you want to get good at playing guard, you might say, “Today, I’m going to pull guard. Every single time I get so many feet I’m going to pull guard.” You know that might not be the best strategy overall, but if you have an area of your knowledge that you want to focus on, that’s the best way to do it.

Sonny: Yes. I think you’ve highlighted something very important there, is that reflection process, and looking back at what you’ve actually done. What you’ve done to work towards, whichever goal, it is you’ve set. Is there a formalized way of reflection that you would recommend people in Jiu-Jitsu practice?

Steve: Yes. I don’t think you need to get totally crazy and have some big official process. The way that I describe it, stemming from my day job, there’s a concept called Kaizen, which is Japanese for continuous improvements. Basically, it is a strategy that really became famous back and I want to say that’s the ’60s when Toyota revolutionized the way the cars were built. They went from being basically nobody to just completely decimating the American car market to the point where it still hasn’t recovered. They did this through a variety of management practices, one of which was Kaizen. The idea is that regardless of what happens, it’s not necessarily about whether you won or lost, it’s about getting better. You set small discrete goals for small-time blocks like I’ve just described. Where like, ” Hey. Today, here’s my goal.” You try it, and then you measure it at the end of the day. “Hey, did I succeed? Did I fail? What are the learnings for what worked well and what didn’t?” Then you apply that next time. It’s not so much about whether you won or lost or about whether you got what you wanted or didn’t, the goal is not on a daily basis to win or lose, the goal is to learn and improve. I think the thing that a lot of people do as a mistake is, they go into class and they measure the success or failure of that day based on how many taps they got or who they beat up, or whether they got beat up. I know it’s very tempting to walk into class and be like, “Yes, I tapped five people today and nobody tapped me. I did good.” Did you really? If you rolled with a bunch of white belts who are like on their first day, and you tapped them all, did that actually improve you in any meaningful way? It might have made you worse. Really, the goal should not be, “Did I succeed, or did I fail?” It should be, “Did I learn, and did I improve?” Some of the best days I’ve had are days when I walked onto the mass and I just got my ass kicked, but man I learned a lot. [laughs] Your focus should be for the long-term, not winning the daily battle of, did I get the tap in the gym, it doesn’t matter. It should be, “Am I taking the steps up the staircase every day to improve myself? So that two years from now, when I look back at where I was I’ll be like, “Man, that guy sucked.” That’s what you want to be doing.

Sonny: Yes. I think it’s that, I want to beat the person who I was yesterday rather than getting the taps today.

Steve: Exactly.

Sonny: Although you still have to enjoy those little victories. You still have to enjoy the taps I think because that can give you the motivation to turn up the next day.

Steve: Oh, yes.

Sonny: I guess for the long-term, it’s more important to enjoy the learning process.

Steve: Yes, victory is always enjoyable, it feeds the ego. I’m not saying don’t care. Obviously, you need to care to some extent, but it is important to separate your ego and your sense of self-worth from, whether you got the tap or not. This applies right up to competition. There are many, many world-class athletes who were– they look like absolute killers until they weren’t. Ronda Rousey comes to mind; Mike Tyson comes to mind. They look unbeatable until they weren’t, and then they never got back on the horse. Then you’ve got guys like George St-Pierre, I’m a Canadian, I’m very biased, who suffered a humiliating loss, the scale of which most of us will never be able to understand. He got beat up by a reality show contestant while the whole world was watching. He got back on the horse and he went on to have one of the greatest championship runs of all time. You have to make sure, as my brother often says, “Your ego is not your amigo.” The reason you’re training is to feed your ego. You’re setting up a barrier that will prevent you from actually growing. They say that martial art kills the ego. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but I know that that should be one of your goals if nothing else.

Sonny: Yes, I hear that. Well, the saying that we have is, “Leave your ego at the door when you step onto the mats.” I always do wonder, would that really result in everyone having an existential crisis, as I walk through the doors of the gym? [laughter]

Sonny: On GSP, I think he’s undoubtedly the goal of MMA, especially by never having gone back and had those losses that a lot of the other people in the contention for that discussion have had themselves.

Steve: The thing about GSP is that, yes, there were guys who had longer title reigns. Yes, there were guys who finished more fights, but there are a lot less question marks surrounding GSP. Guy never failed a drug test, Guy was consistent across the board, the only two losses the Guy ever had, he avenged in dominant version. The only possible question mark you could put around the Guy was that you could argue that– it’s very clear, he got lucky in the decision on that Johny Hendricks fight. There were a lot of variables around that. Johnny Hendricks, I don’t want to lay any accusations, but there were some significant rule changes at the UFC and he was never the same after that. With GSP many years back, he walked off the couch, came back, and worked the ass, and got another title. He’s been very consistent. The only person I think you could even make a comparable case for at this point is Amanda Nunes, in terms of her performance. I think everyone else just has questions like Demetrious Johnson. Amazing, amazing athlete, but the quality of competition wasn’t there. John Jones, his biggest enemy is himself. He has all of the potential to be the greatest of all time, but he has prevented himself from achieving that. Anderson Silva, amazing guy, but a lot of failed drug tests. Once you control for those variables, you’re left with very few pure people in Jiu-Jitsu who you can really say are up there in the gold discussion, and GSP is definitely one of them.

Sonny: Yes. For him, he’s my, the kind of role model for martial arts. As it stands, I’m happy that he doesn’t have those questions around him because if he just keep it like he is, I’m quite happy.

Steve: Yes. That’s one of the things about GSP. Yes, he is not just a dominant athlete, but in a lot of ways, he’s an aspirational figure. No one looks at John Jones and says, “Man, I want to be like that guy.” Even Anderson Silva, I don’t know, many people who look at him and look at him as a pinnacle of the type of person they would want to be. Whereas GSP also has the aura of being the paradigm, the pinnacle of what a martial artist should be. Granted, a lot of that is probably marketing and manufacturing his image that way, but there’s no arguing that a lot of his popularity comes from the fact that people can project into him as being an example of the best of us.

Sonny: Yes. Is it the myth or is it the man? At this stage, I’m happy that the myth, at least, for GSP appears to match up with the man. I can use him still as that aspirational idea of a martial artist.

Steve: Yes, definitely.

Sonny: Steve, an hour has flown by, and it’s been a wonderful conversation. I’m wondering maybe if we can just loop it back to the start with your podcast, BJJ Mental Models, and maybe give people an idea of your favorite episode that they could jump in on. I know you guys are up to 70, you’re in the ’70s now or maybe?

Steve: I think as of this time, we just put out 77 today. Not today, sorry, on Monday.

Sonny: Yes. There’s a lot to choose from. What would be your favorite episode and the things that it covered that would be good to take a look at?

Steve: Sure. If I were to recommend to our listeners where to get started, In terms of the mechanics of Jiu-Jitsu, I think the most important thing to understand is, what we mean when we talk about alignments. How all of the body parts fit together. How leverage works. How to deny your opponent that leverage. We talked about this on the very first episode that we did because we thought that was the most important thing to talk about. Problem is, when we did Episode 1, we had no idea how to podcast. I’ve gone back, and I’ve tried to like sweeten the audio and make it sound better, but it’s pretty clear that these are just too unprepared morons sitting around and talking about Jiu-Jitsu. When we got to Episode 50, with everything that we learned, we decided to reapproach that episode so that if we wanted to direct people to this conversation, we had a better version of it. We brought Rob Biernacki onto the podcast because he’s the guy who popularized that model. My recommendation for anyone who would be interested in a Coles Notes version of what we do and how we do, it would be to take a look at Episode 50 as their starting point.

Sonny: Beautiful, beautiful. That seems like a good place to wrap things up. Steve, what’s the best way, then if people want to get in touch with you, they’ve got more questions for you, how should they go about doing that?

Steve: Sure. Thanks. Obviously, our website is the jumping point to everything we do, bjjmentalmodels.com, very easy to find. Of course, you can also find the show on any pod culture that you’ve got. It’s also on YouTube, on Spotify. Generally, very easy to find, just Google it. Of course, you can go to our website and from there it links out to all of this other stuff. If you want to get in touch with me, we love getting people’s questions. We do our best to answer every single one. We have a contact form on our website. Of course, if you also look us up on Facebook or on Instagram, shoot us a message, we would be happy to talk to you there.

Sonny: Beautiful. Steve, thanks so much for your time today. I hope you’ve enjoyed the discussion, and we could perhaps do another one in the future.

Steve: Absolutely. I hope this is helpful for people. It was great to finally get a chance to talk to you. Again, if there’s something I can leave people with, it’s to just try to make every day a learning experience. It doesn’t really matter if you won or you lost, but set goals so that every time you train, you get the most out of that training. You have a plan for how you’re going to do it, and you reflect on it afterward to figure out how you can get better for the next time.

Sonny: Beautiful. Steve, have a wonderful day and thank you again so much.

Steve: You too. Take care.

Sonny: Cheers.

The Talent Code By Daniel Coyle – Summary & Notes

The Talent Code written by Daniel Coyle says that developing talent requires three elements: deep practise, ignition, and master coaching. The central theme of the book would be the concept that talent comes down to practice and not innate traits, genetics or environment.

The summary of the talent code will be split into sections on talent defined, talent & myelin, deep practice, ignition, master coaching and a conclusion.

Talent Defined

The book defines talent as the possession of repeatable skills that don’t depend on physical size.
It suggests that developing talent requires three elements: deep practice, ignition, and master coaching.
The development of all skills alters the cellular mechanism of production of myelin which creates neural pathways.
Making mistakes generates talent as it will produce myelin growth.
The central theme of the book would be the concept that talent and skill development comes down to practice and not innate traits genetics.

Talent & Myelin

Myelin acts as an insulating layer around nerves that regulate electrical impulses transmitting to nerve cells
Thoughts and movements are the results of these electrical impulses moving through our brain to our muscles.
A thicker layer of myelin allows these electrical impulses to move faster and more precisely, making it crucial for the development of skill.
Growth of myelin occurs when you make mistakes as it causes new nerve circuits to fire, which results in the thickening of myelin.
Execution of skills comes down to the accurate firing of neural circuits; practice builds the myelin for these circuits, so skill development on a neurological basis depends on the efficient production of myelin.
The most efficient way to create myelin would be through deep practice.

Struggle is not optional—it’s neurologically required: in order to get your skill circuit to fire optimally, you must by definition fire the circuit suboptimally; you must make mistakes and pay attention to those mistakes; you must slowly teach your circuit. You must also keep firing that circuit—i.e., practicing—in order to keep myelin functioning properly”

– Daniel Coyle

Deep Practice

Deep practice requires struggle, attention, focus, making mistakes and correcting those mistakes while setting a goal that exceeds your current ability—deliberately causing you to fail and then repeating the process after reflection on what caused the failure to reach your desired goal. Choosing the correct goal requires finding the sweet spot between too complicated and too easy, where you will struggle, but can still manage.

Focus and attention will be critical; you need to be consistently noticing your mistakes, correcting the errors and then repeating the process. Chunking skills up into smaller units will allow you to accelerate the method of deep practice. Instead of practising a long sequence, increase your focus by breaking it down to smaller chunks so you can repeat it quickly, notice the mistakes more clearly and fix them more efficiently. Alter the speed that you perform the chunks, slow it down till you do it perfect and then you can speed it back up and then piece the fragments back together into the entire sequence.


Ignition or motivation provides the energy to overcome the uncomfortable and tiresome struggle that you will experience during deep practice. Therefore, deep practice will require a sustained level of high motivation and energy which then gets converted into skill. Ignition will be triggered by an external cue that will give you the desire to achieve a skill and also the belief that it will be possible.

The cue might be an idea of you you want to be or what you want to achieve and the knowledge that you are capable of attaining, which then sustains you during deep practice. In some areas, you can observe ignition after a single person makes a breakthrough in their sport which then acts as a cue to trigger the belief that it would be possible for similar athletes to achieve the same result.

“Growing skill, as we’ve seen, requires deep practice. But deep practice isn’t a piece of cake: it requires energy, passion, and commitment. In a word, it requires motivational fuel, the second element of the talent code. In this section we’ll see how motivation is created and sustained through a process I call ignition. Ignition and deep practice work together to produce skill in exactly the same way that a gas tank combines with an engine to produce velocity in an automobile. Ignition supplies the energy, while deep practice translates that energy over time into forward progress, a.k.a. wraps of myelin.”

– Daniel Coyle

Master Coaching

Talent will rarely develop on its own without a teacher, coach or guide. Master coaching often doesn’t look like the typical stereotype of great coaches giving boisterous motivational speeches. Usually, it seems more subtle, with selectively targeted feedback containing precise information on how to correct errors and improve performance. The continuous feedback process assists the athlete in the reproduction of deep practice.

Coaches can also provide ignition and motivation, but that can seem much different from coaches that assist in deep practice. Motivation to continue during the awkward beginner stage of learning will be required. Such motivation is fostered better by a friendly coach who knows the athlete personally and can tailor their advice to make them feel good and remain encouraged to continue persisting with their development.

Master coaches will then need an expansive knowledge of their sport to be able to meet the individual needs of their athletes. A master coach can then connect deep practice to ignition, providing them with the motivation to be able to persevere so they can then be lead into the state of deep practice. Master coaches offer short, clear, precise and straightforward instructions that when followed, translates the technical knowledge of the coach into the growth of the athlete’s myelin.

“…the teachers and coaches I met were quiet, even reserved. They were mostly older; many had been teaching for thirty or forty years. They possessed the same sort of gaze: steady, deep, unblinking. They listened far more than they talked. They seemed allergic to giving pep talks or inspiring speeches; they spent most of their time offering small, targeted, highly specific adjustments. They had an extraordinary sensitivity to the person they were teaching, customizing each message to each student’s personality. After meeting a dozen of these people, I started to suspect that they were all secretly related. They were talent whisperers.”

– Daniel Coyle

Conclusion of The Talent Code Summary

Talent becomes dependant on the growth of myelin, a sheath around your neural circuits. The growth can occur with the process of deep practise, training at the edge of your ability, making mistakes and correcting them.

Talent will demand long term motivation to endure the struggle and frustration that transpires throughout deep practice. Motivation can ignite due to external cues which give the athlete a belief in their capabilities.

Talent can be encouraged by master coaches who transform a wealth of experience into clear, precise, actionable feedback and produces the motivation that meets the individual needs of an athlete.

“The talent code is built on a revolutionary scientific discovery involving a neural insulator called myelin, which some neurologists now consider to be the holy grail of acquiring skill. Here’s why. Every human skill, whether it’s playing baseball or playing Bach, is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying a tiny electrical impulse—basically, a signal traveling through a circuit. Myelin’s vital role is to wrap those nerve fibers the same way that rubber insulation wraps a copper wire, making the signal stronger and faster by preventing the electrical impulses from leaking out. When we fire our circuits the right way—when we practice swinging that bat or playing that note—our myelin responds by wrapping layers of insulation around the neural circuit, each new layer adding a bit more skill and speed. The thicker the myelin gets, the better it insulates, and the faster and more accurate our movements and thoughts become.”

– Daniel Coyle

Peace, Love & Raging Waters,
Sonny Brown

The Spectrum of Teaching Styles for Martial Arts & Grappling

The spectrum of teaching styles appears as a unified theory of teaching that aims to describe the structure of all possible teaching methods. It starts from the basis that education will be a chain of decision making with each teaching decision being a result of the previous one.

It identifies that the decisions can come from either the teacher or learner and in three distinct phases of a learning experience which are pre-impact, impact and post-impact. Pre-impact will be the planning and intention behind what you want people to learn; impact will be the decisions made during the lesson, and post-impact will be assessing how the experience went and incorporating any feedback.

Depending on the configuration of decisions between teacher and learner will determine where the teaching style will fall on the scale. The two extremes are if the teacher makes all the decisions, which will result in a military-style strict drilling lesson. The other end will be if the learner makes all the decisions, which results in a concept style of self-teaching.

Reproduction & Production

The full spectrum illustrates 11-landmark teaching-learning approaches that appear divided into cognitive clusters. The first five styles are Command, Practice, Reciprocal, Self-check, and Inclusion. Together they form a group that focuses on reproduction and memory. The remaining six methods, which are Guided Discovery, Convergent Discovery, Divergent Discovery, Learner-designed Individual Program, Learner-initiated, Self-teaching focus on the production of new knowledge.

The reproduction styles will focus on the reproduction and recall of already existing knowledge. In contrast, the discovery styles focus on the learners to produce new information they did not know previously, such as concepts and principles. In future posts, I will outline the details of the 11 landmark styles and the space between these, which becomes a wide variety of teaching variations known as canopies.

As you can see to view grappling training as a choice between “Techniques or Concepts” comes at the problem in an oversimplified manner. In reality, the spectrum could illustrate a more nuanced and informed approach to learning grappling.

The spectrum of teaching styles was developed by Muska Mosston in 1966 and did not propose a one size fits all solution for what would be considered “good” teaching. Instead, it offers a range of styles that could be best suited for a lesson based on its intended objective. Each style has its purpose, and just because you attempt to use a style does not mean it will be better. Each method has its positives and negatives so a style can still suffer from misuse in a given context.

Reproduction Styles

Teaching styles that are instructor centred and focus on direct instruction fall under reproduction styles cluster. Five distinct styles exist called command, practice, reciprocal, self-check & inclusion. Each style slowly gives the students more input into the decisions in the lesson.

Most commonly in martial arts, the warm-ups will be run in a command style. The class gets instructed on techniques and perform them all at the same time or rhythm. It becomes beneficial to run a warm-up with this style for the sake of being efficient with the time available to teach.

Reproduction styles are negatively stereotyped as being old, outdated, and lacking the option for creativity. But if you keep in mind that every method has its purpose based on the constraints and goals, then it still has plenty of utility. Take the warm-up example, telling people to warm up on their own might work once they already know what they need to do and how they need to do it. But until they reach that point of proficiency instructing everyone together will be a time saver. Also, they can be appreciated by the student who simply wants to turn up to class and be told what to do without having to think so much, after a day of work they might want to do the reps and get fit.

Primarily, the reproduction styles rely on taking knowledge discovered previously and letting the students memorise and repeat it. While looking at the ideas of BJJ concepts (especially my podcasts with @schoolofgrappling), I started to realise that although we can create a list of concepts and principles, these are often still taught in a reproduction style. In a manner of “Here are some concepts I prepared earlier”. In further posts, I will go through each reproduction style to explain how they operate before crossing the “discovery threshold” into the production cluster of teaching styles.

Production Styles

Teaching styles that are student-centred and focus on indirect instruction fall under the production styles cluster. Six distinct styles exist called guided discovery, convergent discovery, divergent discovery, learner-designed individual program, learner-initiated and self-teaching. The styles encourage students to come up with new knowledge and information to problems that the teacher comes up with and eventually to issues that they come up with on their own.

On the spectrum of teaching styles these are found once you pass the “discovery threshold”. As these styles are best suited to teaching concepts and principles it would make sense for these to work for concepts in grappling, but I have not seen too many examples of this being the case. The idea being that whatever solution to a problem the instructor has in mind you give the student enough guidance that they come up with the answer on their own instead of being told.

With the reproduction cluster of teaching styles, the instructor aims to get students to replicate knowledge through repetition and memory. 

Remember that it does not need to be a one size fits all approach, the different styles have different benefits based on your goals and multiple styles could be used in a single lesson.

A- Command Style
The instructor makes all the decisions for the class. Including the timing of when the students will perform. It is useful when safety considerations have to be taken into account and It can also ensure the maximum amount of time will be spent on task as the instructor sets the pace. Often seen in warm-ups, think of military-style drilling.

B – Practice Style
The instructor will show the technique and then the students will be given time to practice and drill at their own pace. The instructor moves around the class giving individual feedback. The practice style would be the most common style of teaching for grappling that I have seen.

C – Reciprocal Style
The instructor designs drills for pairs or small groups and provides criteria for feedback on the technique. One student performs the technique and the partners give feedback from the criteria. The style increases socialisation between students, placing trust in them and gives them an active role in the learning process.

D – Self Check Style
Similar to the reciprocal style but the students assess themselves against set criteria. The instructor can circulate through the class and work with students to set their own goals which will focus on the result of a technique and not the technique itself. Students monitor themselves and self-correct their own learning. 

E – Inclusion Style
The instructor designs a variety of drills or tasks that have multiple levels of difficulty. The students then decide which level of difficulty they want to attempt based on their ability level. The style caters to individual needs as students can increase their level when they feel ready or decrease if they find it too difficult. 

With the production cluster of teaching styles, the instructor aims to get students to produce knowledge or techniques that are previously unknown to them. The discovery process remains an ideal way to teach concepts, principles, theories, strategies & game tactics. Students will need a base level of skill to use the styles effectively. But once a student knows the fundamentals, it would be possible that they could develop more rapidly and find the process more enjoyable using the discovery styles. The following summarises the six of these landmark styles from the spectrum of teaching styles.

F – Guided Discovery
The instructor designs a series of questions and problems that lead the student towards discovering a specific predetermined concept or principle. Like climbing steps of a ladder, one question leads to the other in a logically sequenced manner.  

G – Convergent Discovery
The instructor chooses a situation that is unfamiliar to the student so that they must discover the single predetermined response by using their logic and reasoning ability.

H – Divergent Discovery
The instructor selects an unfamiliar situation, and then the student will produce multiple solutions to the problem. The instructor does not look for any single solution but encourages the production of numerous solutions.  

I – Learner Designed
The instructor selects and area for the student to investigate. The student then designs their plan to examine and find solutions to the problem and will grade their performance.

J – Learner Initiated
The student will design their own learning experience and decide on the problems and solutions they will investigate. The instructor’s role becomes a facilitator to ask questions of the student on the decisions they made.

K – Self Teaching
When the student becomes the teacher. They are now in charge of all their learning decisions which becomes a continual process. Consider this the 36th Chamber of Shaolin.

Spectrum of Teaching Styles for BJJ, Grappling & MMA

Most of the way that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu still seems taught seems firmly on the reproduction side of the spectrum. It focuses on replication and memory, which can be great for teaching routines, previous models of techniques and rules.

I think that this may have its place for beginners as they need to become accustomed to the fundamentals, and this can be a time-efficient way for them to learn them. The production styles are said to be better suited to teaching principles, concepts as it leads the learner to make a discovery, which may be more suitable for higher belts past a certain rank.

But what may be surprising would be that the majority of ways I have seen teaching “CONCEPTUAL BJJ” still fall firmly in the reproduction side of the teaching spectrum.

While they may be showing a concept, the methods they are using appear based on the already dominant replication styles. According to the teaching spectrum, it would not be the best way to reach the intended outcome of teaching a concept.

Each style has the capacity to uniquely contribute to human development and content acquisition.

“No teaching style is inherently good or bad. Each style IS. Each style accomplishes the objectives intrinsic to its specific Teacher – Learner decision configuration.”

Reference: Mosston, M., & Ashworth, S. (2008) Teaching physical education: First online edition. Spectrum Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Website: https://spectrumofteachingstyles.org/

Jahred Dell of Articulate BJJ

In this episode I talk to Jahred Dell of ArticulateBJJ.com where he writes excellent articles about the art, sport and lifestyle of Brazilian jiu-jitsu wi and who also happens to be a high school teacher and we discuss his thoughts on the crossovers between teaching a class of high school students and jiu-jitsu students.


Note: Machine translated so may contain errors.


Sonny Brown: (00:14)
Welcome to episode number one of the Sonny Brown breakdown, a podcast where I discussed the training, teaching health and education of mixed martial arts. In this episode I talked to doe of Articulate Bay GI gi.com where he writes excellent articles about the arts, sport and lifestyle of Brazilian Jujitsu. And he also happens to be a high school teacher. Now let’s go to the podcast.

Jahred Dell: (00:36)
Jared, I came across your work with articulate BJJ and was very interested in some of the articles that I was reading there and some of your thoughts on it. And one of the most interesting things I found out was that you are actually a school teacher as well. And that’s also my interest in how we can improve the teaching and learning of martial arts and Brazilian Jujitsu. So one of the things I was wondering is your thoughts on what the most significant crossover from teaching a class of school students is like to teaching a class of Brazilian Jujitsu students. Um, you know, the thing for me is, um, I’ve been teaching for five years now and um, I’ve always kind of worked with students with a range of learning abilities. And for me, I think that if you’re going to think about teaching on the mat or in a classroom, that’s like the lowest common denominator in teaching. We say always teach to that. I teach the lowest common denominator. So the idea is that everyone’s coming in with a different range of experiences and you have to assume that some people on the math, it’s the case of the white belt in the classroom. It might be the case of someone I’m with the very low reading ability or writing ability, you have to teach to that person. And if you can enrich the learning, then everyone else can benefit as well, if that makes sense.

Sonny Brown: (01:57)
Yeah, no, that does make sense. So [inaudible]

Jahred Dell: (02:00)
in that case then, how, so you would have a class of BJJ students, you know, white belts to black belts and would you then feel you’re just focusing on just enhancing that white belt learning? Would that not then say make it boring for some of the higher belts? Well, yeah, that’s a good question. Um, you know, from the, I mean I’ve been, I’ve been teaching and covering classes for the last like I’d say three years now when it comes to Jujitsu. So obviously like I’m more experienced in the classroom and I would not, I would not pretend like I still have a long way to go with my Jujitsu teaching. But from, from what I’ve seen is that if you can bring a detail oriented approach to the beginners, um, there’s always going to be details to be shared there with the advanced students that, hey, I’m going to inform back into the class of the less advanced students. But it’s also, it’s also a chance for the students to, to add and enrich stuff that they’ve [inaudible] might have forgotten well that they’ve been neglecting. So, you know, I, I s I do see mirror at full, like beginners and advanced classes being separate. But I think that being mixed is still crucial. Otherwise it’s just stuff that’s not getting shared across those two categories of students. If you want it, put it that way. [inaudible] [inaudible]

Jahred Dell: (03:23)
and in keeping that, that theme of, of then making it interesting for all the ranges, uh, one thing I’ve always thought of is in the classroom when the students are not engaged, they can start, uh, playing up. And the best way to keep them engaged is a, you know, is a well designed lesson. Um, and in Brazilian Jujitsu, although people won’t mock up as such, um, you will look around and get those blank stares. I think coming back at you when showing a technique or something. Yeah. If they aren’t engaged and wondering, taking those lessons from the classroom, how do you feel the best way to keep that engagement rate high in the Brazilian Jujitsu Room? Yeah, man. Um, I mean, I definitely see exactly what you’re talking about the, either that or you see guys slacking off and they’re like, oh yeah, I’ve got my, like my 10 reps.

Jahred Dell: (04:13)
And then they just sit in there, you know? Um, I think that the key thing there is specifying to those advanced students late this, inform your strategy and put it into your game. [inaudible], you know, by the time someone’s getting to late blue, early purple, they’ve got some idea of the greater context that that technique that you’re showing fits into. Um, personally I think that like a person at that level, which we’re starting to consider advanced, maybe getting purple, light, light blue, purple, Brown, black, even those guys should be seeing the move in that context and have enough responsibility in their own learning to let that in format and build from there. Um, you know, so let’s say, let’s say you’re showing like basic della Hiva entry and details for like, or a beginners [inaudible] wrap their head around. The advanced students should be able to go from that to say, oh, well this is a BACTEC I like, and then start injecting that into their drilling, you know, or, um, you know, giving good feedback to their, their training partner and stuff like that.

Jahred Dell: (05:20)
So, you know, that’s the other thing that I’ve found from teaching, and this goes back to your first question, but it also answers this is the students that I saw taking the biggest or ownership in the learnings were the ones that progress the fastest. So the advanced students, oh, the beginner student who’s just sitting there and going like, oh yeah, coach just told me to drill the arm-bar. So I’m just going to drill the Armbar. That’s great. But it’s the one who’s like going a little bit beyond that. Even if it’s just adding one detail, putting more of the setup into it because they know it and they, they’re adding it to that context, they’re going gonna progress. It’s just, okay. Yeah, it, yeah. And it creates more engagement. So yeah. So then you definitely think in the same as in the classroom where you’d encourage that creativity on people to follow the, their own interests.

Jahred Dell: (06:12)
Carry that over to the Jujitsu room where you’d give them more once, once for the higher belts, you know, they’ve got down the basics, give them more that guided discovery style of learning to show them the fundamentals and then allow their own interests to kind of take hold. Yeah, absolutely. Um, I think, I think that’s a good way of putting it. You know, um, I guess, you know, when it comes to teaching kids, like in a classroom setting or Jujitsu, they don’t know any different. So if you can start with them then and you’re putting, you’re injecting that idea into them that they are going to benefit much more later on. Um, you know, in, in the New Zealand curriculum, they’ve got a really nice statement that I like and they talk about fostering lifelong learning [inaudible] now on its own, it’s sounds a bit like catchy and Corny, but when you think about it, learning just another habit, you know, like you get up and make your bed or you wash the dishes, like learning as the same.

Jahred Dell: (07:10)
It’s putting yourself into a mindset where you can absorb and, and like informed. And I think we as adults forget that a little bit when we like step onto the mat and we like, Oh yeah, well I pay fees to be here. You know, like there’s all these other things going on in our heads and we forget that we’re actually there to absorb. And sometimes the back end, which us away from the learning and say, Oh, I’m just going to do what my coach is doing and, and like you kind of relieve yourself from any responsibility and how you’re progressing. And I see those guys progressing slower than ones who take on board all of that. They asking the [inaudible] the right questions and also adding the right techniques. [inaudible] very interesting. Yeah, we have that in the New South Wales curriculum as well. And I think what you’re trying to get at is then maybe, so we have the instructor showing the Jujitsu techniques, but it’s really, as long as people are bringing the, uh, you know, kind of that, that mindset that it’s not just the solely the moves that they’re showing that the instructor’s showing itself, but what else they can add to those moves.

Jahred Dell: (08:16)
And the, uh, benefit as a whole is going to be more constructive than just that, that one technique that they’re learning. Yeah, man. Um, uh, agreed like that all of the best instructors that I’ve seen then not just showing the move in isolation, they’re explaining to you the bigger picture of why you’re doing it. And I think that that is it, it really helps to inform you as the student on where you want to take that. Like, Oh, if he’s passing my God, he has like this retention technique that we’re working and we’re like micro drilling or we’re doing it in positional sparring. I’m not just going to do that. I’m going to add it onto things I know and see how these things work in synergy with each other. So like you’re having, you’re having your teacher there to guide you and facilitate that, like experimentation in a way that you can get strong feedback. You can ask questions. Um, and yeah, that those are, those are the times when I felt I’ve learned the most, like my progression and the like working with people like that, you just, it’s measurably different. You know?

Sonny Brown: (09:23)
Yeah. So then you would, how would you fall on the, uh, the spectrum of, you know, drilling versus concept, uh, based teaching? Um,

Jahred Dell: (09:35)
oh yeah.

Sonny Brown: (09:36)
You know, there’s, there’s always a bit of debate going on there and I think there’s always some benefits to drilling. Um, yeah. But what, what would your take on that be?

Jahred Dell: (09:46)
Yeah, I mean, you know, this is, yeah, it’s the ongoing debate. You know, like I, I’ve heard this debate, I mean, since I originally saw stuff from like kid Dale, you know, and I was like attracted to this idea because essentially I’m a lazy person. Like I was like, oh, I don’t have to do the psych a thousand times of mean like great. But, um, and I’ve heard it from Keenan as well, but to be honest, I think it’s that, it’s that contrast between beginner and advanced. Again, like you can just go to the beginning of like, Hey, here’s a concept. When they have no idea of the [inaudible] [inaudible] yet, you cannot expect them to understand. And I think that that’s the difference. You know, like Sherling is great. Well why? And even blue belt, like you can, you can get through those two belts, in my opinion on drilling because you, you’re drilling stuff to get the breadth of Jujitsu down, understanding all these techniques and how they work and then conceptually from there, once you have that right [inaudible] understanding you can build the depth underneath with concepts.

Jahred Dell: (10:51)
Um, now that’s not to say some guys are going to be not good and benefit from one way or the other more less. But I find that, yeah, that too. To kick the ladder out from drilling, I think everyone forgets what it was like to start. Like you’ve got to drill a number. Like you’ve got to drill a [inaudible] like no white belt is going to come in and going to know what you mean about framing unless they first learned how to put those frames in place. So I think the interplay between the two is really important. [inaudible] [inaudible] you can’t take either of them for granted.

Sonny Brown: (11:23)
Yeah, definitely. I think, you know, although the, I, the idea of only having to learn concepts is very attractive. Yeah. Especially for beginners. It’s, it’s difficult. You might take, you know, it might take

Jahred Dell: (11:36)

Sonny Brown: (11:37)
tens of hours just to explain some basic moves through concepts only and that might pay off dividends for them later. But it’s much easier to, in terms of economy of time for people who are, you know, have professional jobs outside of training to just show them what we’ve already learned through through thousands of hours of practice and get them to drill that. But yeah, there is that benefit too to, uh, to conceptual learning as well. Um, which brings up, what would, you know, what would you say one of the most powerful things that a Jujitsu student taking charge of their own learning that they can do to help increase their, their rate of development?

Jahred Dell: (12:20)
I think it’s like the enjoyment man. Like, um, you know, you at the bottom line, we, we do this because we like it, right? And I think some people over long hours of drilling the same stuff, maybe, um, being informed by, um, a Karcher has a specific game and then trying to emulate that, um, Mike gets stuck and frustrated because I finding stuff that isn’t working either for their physique or their technical preference, but as soon as you start to take ownership of that and you’re, you’ll call it fully conscious of your training and what you’re doing, you can start to build your own game. And I guess that’s the really attractive [inaudible] of Jujitsu is there’s no right one right way to do it. It’s this really subject of thing, but you can’t reach that unless you are fully engaged. [inaudible] that process and going, okay, okay, well why does this work for me? But why doesn’t this work for me? Like I just can’t get it [inaudible] this one’s set up to work and then looking back at it objectively and taking that ownership rather than just expecting your coach or a DVD to fix it. Um, I think

Jahred Dell: (13:30)
everyone has that answer if they take the time to reflect it. And I mean, look man, uh, I know it’s hard when people have got okay jobs and Jujitsu’s maybe just a place they coming to find some enjoyment, but that’s what it comes down to. You want to enjoy it more. [inaudible] just take some ownership of that learning process. And I think that circle, that circle of learning is, hey, for that, you know, it’s going to keep your training longer. Um, it’s gonna make the time that you do spend on the maths more enjoyable. You’re not going to leave frustrated all the time. So I really try and preach that like, um, if I’m, if I’m working with like a beginner in a private or even in a larger class, just like come back to that, how does this work for you? Why do you like to do it that way? Um, but yeah. Yeah, I guess, I guess that’s my thinking towards that. Really.

Sonny Brown: (14:19)
Yeah. So, and then that way I think if, if they are, if they are enjoying it more than that’s gonna decrease the rate of, of people dropping out and quitting Jujitsu, which you know, is a very common thing. Or, you know, for plenty of white belts and blue belts who, who, you know, don’t get that attraction to it or just don’t make it through that, you know, that that plateau of blue belt. And I guess I seem to be hearing the, the biggest thing is just creating that lifelong learner and creating that love of learning in Jujitsu. Yeah. Within individual. So what would you feel would be the best way to just to open that possibility up to someone who’s maybe coming into Jujitsu, you know, say, you know, mid, late twenties or something. They’ve got a job,

Jahred Dell: (15:05)
the, you know, the kind of set in their ways outside of there and have just looked looking for something else too to take up their free time. How would you use Jujitsu as the catalyst to open up that love of learning again? Alright, uh, that’s, that’s a really good question man. I think there’s like quite a few things there that you can angles you could take, but like the big one I would think because I see, I see this with people, you know, I was one of these people like, yes, I was 21 when I first started Jujitsu, but I’d come from a background and doing like other martial arts, you know like judo, Moitai, boxing. I’d tried all these things out as kids, so I understood what it meant. Do a martial art. I think if it’s like people’s first exposure coming in, the biggest thing is like turning off that narrative in your head.

Jahred Dell: (15:56)
That’s his like that has all of these preconceived ideas about ourselves. You know, like when we’re sitting in our jobs, we have an idea of what we’re good at, what would that at what, like what’s going on, where we fit into a structure. We have the same thing in our social lives, in our relationships, but when you come onto the mat, like as a white belt, that doesn’t really exist [inaudible] also, you don’t even know what you just is yet. You don’t know how like other people are seeing it. You, you’re still developing like what Hanzo calls Jujitsu eyes. [inaudible] I love that. I love that expression. And I think it’s so true. Like if you come in in a state of naive ignorance, you don’t even have the eyes for it yet. And I don’t mean naive ignorance as in like an insulting thing. It’s just that, that initial stage of learning when you don’t even know what you don’t know.

Jahred Dell: (16:48)
And I think people need to accept that. Like you can’t deny that when you put on a white belt. I’m a beginner, I’m new, I’m learning new things and I see that struggle and that comes back to that drop out rate. I think it’s so high because at white belt blue belt, some people are getting by on athleticism or [inaudible] um, some previous experience or even just turning up. And that’s great. [inaudible] it’s awesome, but you, you can’t late it then hit a barrier and go, oh, well I’ve now hit my perception of myself and this is confronting and then step back and not engage. Um, so yeah, I think that that would be, that would be like my number one thing. It’s just remove your internal narrative from the Mat. Just trust in the process. You know, like I think without that you’re never really going to stick at it.

Sonny Brown: (17:41)
Yes. So that, that trusting in the processes obviously then going to come back to that, the kind of that mindset first and then creating change in physical abilities that can help create a positive feedback loop that once they start learning a few of the basic techniques from the process, have some success with that, then they can kind of create their own motivation too to get those, to get those small wins that keep them coming back. So when we’re, when we’re teaching then students like how do we, what’s a good way to create those small wins for them to create that, you know, to, to fuel them.

Jahred Dell: (18:26)
Um, well I guess there’s a couple different strategies you can put in the, I think the big ones, the big ones are bite sized pieces, you know, like okay. Positioning, putting them in positions where they can see how techniques work. I don’t think there’s much point in putting like a white belt into a class and going, hey, here’s an ombre. Okay, now we’re rolling for an Alex. Go for it. And then they’ve got no idea, you know? Um, I think things like positional sparring, um, even some just specific drilling at higher intensities with a little bit more resistance can help them build to that idea of confidence, especially if they’ve never come from any like contact or, um, you know, it kind of sparring oriented martial arts. They need to understand how another body feels and where they can find that success. Um, so it’s about framing that class, you know?

Jahred Dell: (19:22)
Um, and yeah, I don’t know if introducing your [inaudible] three session brand new white belt. It’s aspiring, it’s exciting, but that can be a big turn off right off the bath with someone if they, if all they know is an AAMBAA, you know, they don’t even know like clothes God, yet things like that. So smaller bite sized chunks I think are really good. It’s something that I’ve seen my instructor up kid doing. You know, like you have your color belts in the middle. Working with rotating begin is coming through doing positional sparring and giving them the leeway to practice that. Take Nick, you know, if things mock up, they get punished for it. If it’s working, they get to see why it’s working and why it’s successful. Um, [inaudible] I see that working well, you know, cause your higher belts should be the ones that can help facilitate that learning process, you know?

Sonny Brown: (20:17)
Yeah. It’s interesting now I think there’s, you know, over time there has been a bit of a, a shift in some attitudes with Jujitsu because I feel a lot of the, the higher belts at least, uh, than I know when they first went into Jujitsu schools, it was still, you know, being proven, uh, or, you know, not still being proven, but had a lot to prove, uh, as a martial art. And like, my first experience I remember was getting, you know, it was getting smashed. Uh, but for whatever reason I thought, you know, this is something, all right, I have to learn. You know, I want to, I want to be able to do that. I want to see what was going on there. Um, how was your, your first experience and what drew you to, to, to keep coming back then?

Jahred Dell: (21:04)
Yeah, mine was, mine was pretty similar to be honest. Spray it like I was, um, I was at uni and I was doing boxing and at my, at this academy that also had Jujitsu, um, having done judo as a kid, I was pretty familiar with what a gay was and what like a Randori and there was was so like ground technique and everything. But when they, um, when I saw it there in person, I was like, oh, hang on, this is, this is that shit they were doing in UFC. And I was like, this can’t be harder than getting punched in the face. I think I’m going to give it a try. Like it can’t be that, that, and then I’d go fuck that. Like real bad, my first session man. But it was fortunately, it was, it was in a class where I felt comfortable, you know, it wasn’t like absolute murder.

Jahred Dell: (21:53)
I wasn’t getting like [inaudible] wasn’t yeah. [inaudible] Dick move kind of ass whipping it was that like kind of controlled technical feeding that you get from it. Nicely behaved high belt. Um, I do like what you said earlier though, you know, like yeah, some seasoned like some seasoned and older more experienced belts are gonna experience that like, um, yeah, that had to test that against people who don’t necessarily believe it’s true. But I think, I think there’s something important to consider in that the fact is not everyone’s coming to do that. A lot of people these days especially are coming in because they interested in learning and these, um, you know, the higher belts are your first, your first line of people who can contribute to that learning, not just the instructor. So yeah, I guess you’ve heard that saying as well, where it’s like you’re, you, you’re not there for yourself, you’re there for someone else. I think people need to let that inform it. You know, even the athletes, like even active competitors and stuff. In my opinion, I feel that these people are the ones who should be really helping out begin as where they can, you know, not for like two hours after a class, but if the guy’s got a genuine question, um, I think, I think that’s a valid, a valid place to be doing it, you know, contribute, give back like the same that we were given, you know?

Sonny Brown: (23:15)
Yeah. Yeah. You raise a good point in that, although there’s always, you know, the head, the head of the school or the class instructor, the, the entire culture of a, of a gym or a classroom will really have a bigger effect on the, on the individual if, well everyone involved in the class is all helping each other and, you know, you know, you have the competitors helping them, the, the white belts you have the, and you know, vice versa. And, you know, what is

Jahred Dell: (23:46)
the best way to kind of encourage that, that culture of, you know, cooperative learning and, and peer teaching, uh, within, within the martial arts school and within the classroom as well. Yeah, man. Um, so I think one of the reasons I’ve gotten into that mindset is because I saw it in the classroom at first. Like a student would never ask me first if they didn’t understand what I’d said. They turn to their friend and they are, you know, like, you know, when I first started you just saying I was coming up, um, like to, to any form of technique, sometimes you instruct is not right there to ask you. And being a white belt and regularly being partnered with a purple belt or a brown belt like really, really helped me to understand this man because I was working with [inaudible] patient guys who do like really wanted to help me.

Jahred Dell: (24:38)
When they saw I was keen on learning and I was there every day, I think that was a huge thing cause they said, oh cool, well here’s a body that I can use. Um, he’s keen on learning and he’s not going to complain. [inaudible] and you know, I just said, cool man. Well [inaudible] you know, you’re this purple bow, you’ve been doing this for like eight years. Like help me like, and you know, not constantly badgering them for answers, but you know, in the context of it, getting feedback from them I think is such a huge thing. Do you feel that sense of collegiality and sharing in your school? I think that’s probably the best way to get it kicked off because

Jahred Dell: (25:17)
as an instructor, you know when you model that behavior you see other people doing it too. Oh that was cool. How’d you do that? Asking questions like even even if it’s to a low belt, some guys just do cool shit you’ve never seen before. And I think, I think it’s really important for any instructor even if you know it, to kind of ask that and yeah, it comes back to giving students ownership but something, hey, that was a really cool detail. How did you do that? Like that over this basically it’s engaging for your students in your class. Well like they’ve got something greater to offer. Um, I see, I see my instructors doing that all the time and you know, they’ll go, hey, you know, this is something you do really well. Like you caught me with that legitimately, why, how do you get it to work? Show us. And then, you know, it taking a step back, not having to be the one, um, right at the center of the room or at the front if you want to put it that way. But like allowing these people to also inform the bigger picture of what’s going on.

Sonny Brown: (26:14)
Yeah. So I think that that idea of that feedback, uh, that feedback loop is so important then and like getting that feedback from the students, which of course in the classroom is something that’s always, you know, talked about as being most important, um, giving that constant feedback to students. And so we’re in the, when Jujitsu’s going on, what do you think, you know, where are the best spots to apply that feedback to the, um,

Jahred Dell: (26:44)
because there’s only one, you know, there’s one instructor up, up the top, front of the class. They can’t see everything. How do we create that, that constant feedback loop within the, within the Jujitsu classroom? Yeah, that’s a good question, man. Um, you know, uh, that can start with something, like I say, uh, like this, there’s going to be other ways that I’m sure people will be able to suggest. But the ones that I see working the best is making sure that you have the time during drilling sequences to get around to people, um, seeing how they’re doing things and then also addressing the common errors in the classroom. That was a great, um, a great, like that piece of advice that I was given by a, an old coach of mine was if you’re teaching and you see the era being done by a number of people, not just to try and fix it with one person, but to actually bring everyone back together and then address that because it’s clearly something that’s occurring for a number of years.

Jahred Dell: (27:41)
People. Um, I thought that that was a nice way. That’s hey, economic and it’s efficient. So to address that and give a lot of people the same feedback that’s obviously needed. Um, you know, things like positional sparring or how are you, even if we say shark tank, God forbid, but like I think that that’s great. You know, if you’ve got like active competitors who need to get their cardio up and they’ve got things coming up, put them in the middle, um, it get them cycling through with fresh opponents or fresh training partners. And then you can see and critique both people’s feedback in a very controlled way, you know, start them from specific positions. Um, you know, all of these different modalities exist for us to mess around with as an instructor. Um, and then, you know, also just seeking advice at the end of class.

Jahred Dell: (28:31)
You know, like I’m under no impression that icon improve. And I think the first thing to do there is just to ask questions. Hey, how’d you think that Class Wade did I did you think I missed anything? Like I’ve got a number of guys who, if, if I have to cover a class and I’m, I’m teaching, I’ll ask and pick their brains afterwards, you know, how’d you think that went? What can I do to improve? Yeah. Piece of teaching. Um, but yeah, it’s just modeling the same kind of learning you want to see in your students all the time. I think, yeah, that’s a, it’s an interesting point with getting feedback from the class. Cause I’ve, I’ve always found that if I, you know, if I ask for feedback, everyone’s generally very polite and that they’ll always feel that I’ll always give positive feedback and it’s can sometimes make it hard to actually know if there’s something that they would like to say, but just, you know, social decorum prohibits them from feeling confident enough to say, Oh, you know, you could, could’ve improved here or you could have improved there. Um, have you experienced that yourself or you have any thoughts on, on dealing with that? Yeah, yeah, definitely. I’d agree with you there. Like, um, it’s very seldom that I’ll actually ask the entire class and that’s not because I don’t value their opinion, but some people don’t understand, um, how to give formative feedback. Hmm. So

Sonny Brown: (29:58)

Jahred Dell: (29:59)
Um, my first thing is to ask people that I trust my regular training partners, [inaudible] guys that have been, that attained the same classes as I do. They’re also like the ones that are close friends of mine, I’ll pick their brains because I know they’ll be honest with me. I mean, I guess that’s a, that depends on you like to keep a strains. But, um, I’d rather, I’d rather my friend from training shoots from the hip and it tells me exactly where I fucked up, you know,

Sonny Brown: (30:27)
may Tom.

Jahred Dell: (30:29)
Yeah. So I’d rather ask very specific people that they know me, they know my technique, they know my teaching style, so they can go, yeah, look, I thought that was a great class. Everyone was engaged, but, um, I’ve thought that you may be, I could have spent more time on this detail or something like that. And yeah, just even small gems like that, I feel, um, I can take away and then it informs me for next time.

Sonny Brown: (30:55)
Yeah. Okay. So, yeah, definitely having that, hopefully those, you know, those trusted people in the classroom, in the classroom, in the Jujitsu room that you can, you can rely on. I think that is one thing with, uh, with teaching, you do get used to that, you know, that formative feedback and uh, yeah, so that’s, you know, that kind of comprises the role of what the, the teacher can do. Um, you know, how to feel that the, you know, students, we can, we can encourage them to give feedback to the, to the other students. I mean, I like one idea that I’ve come across is, you know, giving them a set set list of things to pay attention to during, during roles and, you know, then bring those up at the end of a roll with their student without, uh, with, with their rolling partner, without coming across as of course, condescending because there’s always the, the inevitable dread of, of having to, to criticize someone else, um, on what they’re doing. Is there a, is there a good way of approaching that?

Jahred Dell: (32:05)
That’s a, that’s a good question, man. Lie. Um, I think, you know, like we said earlier, some people are more understanding of how to give feedback then other people are. Um, and I don’t know, like sometimes I guess with rolling that can be a difficult thing cause we get like, I see a whole range of that kind of narrative playing out from then you’re really strong, you know, like the underhanded in. So

Sonny Brown: (32:33)
last time

Jahred Dell: (32:34)
you’re very athletic but not using much to take knee to the, uh, it was more of a crank and it’s I, yeah, but I love that one because it’s like it was a crank, but you tap so he’s, it’s like, yeah, it’s not good feedback. It’s like, look, that was cranking, I had to tap because of appreciate it. But the, the strangulation wasn’t the primary reason I tapped. I think that if they can, if they can communicate it more clearly and it doesn’t come across as that, like real salty, um, yeah, you only won through physical strength kind of five, you know? Um, so communication, I think it comes down to communication and they only gonna know how to do that, whether it’s rolling or drilling because of what is explicitly stated by the instructor. Maybe that time actually needs to be taken to say, hey guys, if you find yourself in a crank tap to protect yourself and then give you your opponent or training partner, however you want to say it.

Jahred Dell: (33:41)
Some feedback on how they could have made that more of a strangle or more of a more effective. So yeah, I dunno. I guess it just comes back to clear communication and not ruffling people’s failures. You know, cause I’m communication gets lost, you know, like the adrenaline’s up. Um, you know, you’ve just had six, seven, 10 minutes of rolling, keep it short, say something positive. Um, and if even if it was something negative, try and frame it in a way that doesn’t come across as, oh, he was upset, he got subbed or he was just upset that this work, even though it was just string. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a really good point that we have. We have these names, all these sayings like, you know, we know it’s, you know, it was a crank moves more of a crank or you know, you’re very strong as those underhanded compliments or the, we have these maims for feedback that are actually useless for feedback.

Jahred Dell: (34:43)
Those whenever that happens is a good point, is a good moment to actually share something interesting. And instead we have these memes of, you know, the underhanded kind of, you know, ego changed comments that Jujitsu’s really supposed to. Yeah. We’ll advertise that it will, that it will get, you know, a remove from a students. So definitely. So, yeah. I I, yeah, that’s, that’s pretty cool point. Yeah. Sorry to interrupt that point there. But like I think, I think the other big thing is this, certain positions to come out of with the back is always going to sound better and there’s some way, it’s always gonna sound worse. Like if you just got subbed and then you want to like give a guy feedback, it’s very seldom that a person is going to be able to take that well because they’re gonna feel a number of ways.

Jahred Dell: (35:34)
About that. Whether it’s like, oh, he was trying to coach to the submission or ah, yeah, he was only giving me that because he felt bad about getting subs. Like I can totally see where that comes out. And then in that situation, if that’s happening in the gym, I think it’s up to a coach to be like, Hey, yeah, only trust certain people that give feedback. You know, like the me, the feedback process was a bit different because [inaudible] I love, I went through a stage where I was like obsessed with foot locks, you know, and a lot of guys were trying to figure out the defense and the training room. Um, a lot of the defense was incorrect and I’d have to let go of the sub, not to injury guy. Mm. At that point I’m just going to leave it. And then at the end of the role address it, you know, after everything’s happened because I’ve started to kind of, um, think about this idea of like, no talking while you’re rolling, but once I get to the end, then I’ll give some feedback to the guy, you know, like, Hey, you know, um, that time you tried to escape the footlocker there, I actually had to let go to save you.

Jahred Dell: (36:39)
This is what you should be looking at doing. But this was already in a position where I was a more experienced belt. So I don’t know if you maybe want to put in rules about like, yeah, I’ve done no talking during rolling or, um, if you’re a low belt, please ask like a high about, you know, I’ve seen some schools with these kind of a more structured ways of doing it and I don’t think there’s any one right way to do it. You know, it all depends on the dynamic of who you’re teaching. You know, you’ve got a room full of athletes, competitors, um, have you got a lot of like, um, hobbyists, you’ve got a, you’ve got a since the room before that. Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good point. So yeah, even for myself, I remember I used to, um, you know, on a couple of occasions people would be going for chokes and it wouldn’t be quite right.

Jahred Dell: (37:27)
They would be a lower belt and I’d feel, you know, I’d start coaching them through how to finish. And it wasn’t actually until I saw the maims from that that I realized that that’s what I was doing and have quickly, you know, stop doing that now. We don’t, we’ll only give the feedback once the roles, once the roles finished. Um, yeah. But yeah, it’s so funny how my name’s three that I like. It’s things that like they funny as hell, but then they go, oh shit. Like, oh was not doing that. Like, and then it makes us reflect light. Even, even if we thought what we were doing was right and it still might even be, it’s funny how like that perception can be a lot [inaudible] changed by that I guess. Yeah. Well and so universal as well. Yeah. Like it’s, you know, probably similar on the other side of the world doing the same thing.

Jahred Dell: (38:21)
And I thought, oh my God, that’s me. That’s me. I better stop that. Okay. Yeah. Um, you know, and I think that it’s one of the funniest things about seeing the community is like everyone has the same problems, you know, like you just lose the same everywhere. Like you can’t tell me any different because like you see it, like whether it’s New Zealand that whether it’s I can Thailand anyway, man that I’ve traveled the same shit happens on the mat every way, bro. Like, um, and I think on reflection of that, you just go, yeah, you know, these things, you know, it is funny and it should be viewed as fun. Like, I think the worst parts of Jujitsu occur when people take the too seriously. [inaudible] in any possible scenario. Okay. You see the most toxic stuff coming out when stuff happens too seriously. Hmm. So that’s a good point of keeping, you know, keeping learning fun as a way to, to keep people engaged.

Jahred Dell: (39:23)
And this is something I’m struggling explaining to people, really understanding myself when, when dealing in the classroom that there’s inevitably going to be things that a student’s going to find boring that you know, and then it’s becomes the job of the teacher to somehow make that uh, engaging. But there’s always still those things that, you know, getting, getting the reps in is just going to be part of it. You know, taking, there’s always going to be the bad days that, you know, that’s just something that you’re just not enjoying. Um, and then, yeah, when, when that’s happening in the classroom and in Jujitsu, how do you take those things that unnecessary but very, you know, difficult to make. Interesting. And how do you make someone, you know, how do you bring them along to find those things? Interesting.

Jahred Dell: (40:19)
Yeah, man, I think that comes to the core of anything. Then there’s just going to be shit that’s not fun. Mm. Like, you know, there’s always going to be something about a process that is going to be hard work and it’s not going to be enjoyable. And you know, like I, I’m [inaudible] 28 now and I see a lot of people around my age who like, if I want all the best parts of a process, but as soon as this resistance, Nah, it’s too hard, or I’ve got better things to do and you know, then the excuses start to come out and it’s like pushing against the inertia of ego. Um, and yeah, I just, I think for me that’s the big thing is trusting in the process wholeheartedly. Because, you know, in any training room you see dudes who’ve got to purple to Brown and to black bell, they got their embracing the same sucky stuff that we’ve got to do now.

Jahred Dell: (41:18)
Like there was no shortcut. They didn’t just roll up with like a black belt one day. Um, you know, I see some people going like, oh yeah, well, you know, go on Ryan. Or this guy got his belt. And like three or five years. And it’s like, yeah, because they were in the training room for six hours a day. You think that they just short, how did the, the worst parts? No, they just did it. Boston like that did more of it. They got the 10,000 hours quicker. Um, and that’s something I say to my life, um, to my kids in a, in a teaching environment, like in a high school environment because I’m saying to them, you know, like if you are here and you’re engaged, you will, you won’t just pass, but you’re going to learn. And it’s just about like consciously rolling up and, and doing what has to be done.

Jahred Dell: (42:05)
Sometimes it’s going to be cool. They aspects of anything that’s fun to do, but when you start getting into the finer points, you’ve actually got to push. You’ve got to push against stuff that’s really hard. You gotta put stuff against things that confront your description of yourself and you know, you’ve got to, you’ve got to work around it. Um, and the people that aren’t willing to do that are usually the ones like you said earlier, that, um, are affected by the high attrition rate of the sport. They don’t like what they’re shown when that Murray gets held up. Um, and you know, okay. It’s so hard to say that you just lose for everyone. Mm. It should be if everyone can engage with the process but some people are unwilling to Jujitsu’s for everyone but not everyone is willing to do what it takes. Mm.

Jahred Dell: (42:55)
And I do wonder, we’ve discussed, uh, so much you know, on or generating the feedback and building that, that culture. But if when it comes to that, just doing what needs to be done that a does have to be more of like an authoritarian approach with the instructor just being strict and, and then the by process then the student being strict on themselves and that this, there’s certain things that they’ll just have to have to do no matter what. And Yeah, keep it, keep on turning up when you know, when its been a rough week, when it’s been a rough day and can stay in consistent no matter how they’re feeling, if that’s just something that has to be, you know, I’m just that authoritarian mindset for, for that particular part. Okay. Yeah man. Um, you know the one thing that was um, drilled into me early on at Teacher’s college that stuck with me and I see it now in Jujitsu as well, especially now that we’re talking about it, but it’s the idea that a teacher is like in a way an actor like and a bit of a chameleon because not everyone in that room wants the same thing from you.

Jahred Dell: (44:12)
So you can’t just go in and be the, like you said, the authoritarian to everyone because you might have a room one night that has no competitors in it and it’s got some people that are hobbyists and people that are doing it for self defense or just even for fun. And you need to saints the room and be the person that need you to be as the teacher they paying at the end of the day. So that’s your responsibility. It’s your job. It’s literally what they’re expecting from you in your service. The thing I think that comes from the student’s perspective is how much you’re putting into, you know, and to be honest with yourself about that, I see hobbyists who, um, have that have this air about it, that they, they are doing the most in the room and it’s maybe because they don’t know any different or maybe they haven’t engaged enough to see that or they think that the three times a week that they coming means that everyone else was only doing three days a week.

Jahred Dell: (45:09)
They’re still in that stage of what we called naive ignorance. But man, it’s, it’s, it’s an inter interplay between the teacher and what the students bringing and they’ve got to meet in the middle. Like I know when I rock up, I need some times and authoritarian approach. Like I need my coach on a hard competition training to be like, you were in every round, this is what you need to focus on. Go ahead and do it. And there’s no excuse. And I’ve just got engaged in that and if I quit, then it’s on me. But then I haven’t trusted the process and my coach I have to trust. Um, and that’s, that’s from a competitive perspective as the hobbyist, I needed something different. But yeah, it’s this, you have to meet the needs I suppose.

Sonny Brown: (45:55)
Mm. And that’s something, I guess just knowing, uh, knowing the students and knowing the individuals so you can kind of, I guess Taylor Taylor, what you’re doing there with the, with the individual learning plan as such. And so that’s interesting. The idea of then the teacher as an actor. Um, because of course with martial arts, that’s something that can get taken to the extreme where people will bestow themselves with lavish titles and ask that, you know, all sorts of things from their students. Um, you know, with, with, you know, calling themselves master or, or you can, you know, or we can go down that path of what would be called Bull Szeto by acting too much. How do you think that that can, that can be tempered then within, uh, in Jujitsu or where do you think the, the line should be drawn between, between acting for in the, in the martial arts room?

Jahred Dell: (46:57)
I, yeah, that’s a, that’s a good question. I think it’s a, you have to have this moderated approach. When I say, when I say acting, I don’t think of it in the sense of amplifying personality because then we do get all of these feed and problems with ego and um, you know, trying to, it tried to have everything lone through your own trumpet. You see some of the best teachers in the sport, man, like you think of, you think of these names. Like, I certainly think of a Marcello [inaudible], you know, having seen how 80 bravo teachers, I definitely see, I definitely see that too. Um, these, these are people who are able to express their ideas in a way that retains attention but also requires engagement from their students. You know, they’ll regularly break instruction to ask a question or to give feed in from a student. Um, you know, I, that was something really good that I saw from them, you know, and yeah, it prevents a student from switching off, but it’s not about personality. It’s not going like, oh, you know, like back in 2012 I pulled this off in a competition that won me golden with three seconds to go. It’s not about that, it’s about like, it’s about being able to [inaudible] ah, like a context or um, a frame

Jahred Dell: (48:20)
that the student can see very clearly. Um, whether that’s the discipline of the classroom or literary the technique that you’re working on within one hour.

Sonny Brown: (48:31)
Yeah, that’s very, very interesting. Cause even I find myself sometimes tempted when, you know, teaching a technique, I wanted to kind of discuss, you know, yeah, this, this, this, you guys should have the confidence in this technique because it worked for me here, or, or, or such like that. Instead of just having that, that belief in it’s, you know, just in itself or just, you know, not having to feel the need to explain that to people. Um, so yeah.

Jahred Dell: (48:59)
Yeah. It’s, I like what you’ve said there because you know, a lot of people talk about high percentage, you know, is it objectively high percentage or is it high percentage for you because it’s a preference of yours. There’s a big difference there, so I’m glad you, yeah, I’m glad you hit on that.

Sonny Brown: (49:18)
Yeah. So then what do you feel like you talk about building that frames or just how is the best way to just give that confidence, you know, have that confidence within yourself that the students are going to have confidence within your teaching?

Jahred Dell: (49:33)
Oh Man. Um, the me, that actually comes from originally being really hard on myself as a teacher. Like I used to leave every class that I taught, thinking I’d bombed out, you know, and I started, I started down that route because when I was at the teachers college, I had like a, a bunch of, uh, people observing me that were really, really hot. Like probably a little bit excessively harsh. They didn’t like, it didn’t allow much reflection from me, but they were like, yes. So how did you feel that wins? Ah, yeah, I don’t think that was great. Like, you know, just

Sonny Brown: (50:09)

Jahred Dell: (50:10)
for me it was like these big knocks, the confidence, but it puts me into a state of mind where it made me realize how little I was actually aware of and about what I was doing in a classroom setting. So I built a natural reflection technique and they where I was going, oh, how do I think that went? How do I think that went? Like literally with everything I did, why am I doing that? Why am I trying to get students to do this? What’s the biggest picture? So anytime I teach a class in Jujitsu now w whether it’s filling in or whether it’s at a workshop, I’m saying, hey guys, the goal today is the specific thing I want you to leave with a the and see, you know, um, we’re going to have times with question and I lay it out, uh, lay it out before the class.

Jahred Dell: (50:55)
So students are aware and there’s no surprises. I think when you take surprises out of it, there’s is a confidence for the students because they like they can brace for impact if you want to call it that. [inaudible] and that can go great. This is what we’re working on. Um, oh I know some of us, I remember us doing this six weeks ago. Right. [inaudible] um, prior knowledge builds confidence too. So yeah, I think, I think all of those things play into me feeling confident in the students doing it plus thing. I see them rolling or whether it’s, um, you know, so this specific spiring um, positional stuff and I can say, oh yeah. Okay. I want to see your working from Della Hiva cause we’ve just been working now for three weeks. Um, and then if they still missing some details then I’m like, okay, well that’s a problem specific to this person.

Jahred Dell: (51:41)
And then you work on that and either give them that feedback in some spare time around the class, we’ll have them work on it, you know, um, because maybe they’re not aware that they don’t know [inaudible] [inaudible] and so you touched on something there that’s probably invaluable in that the process of lesson planning, um, to g to give you that confidence within the lesson and just, you know, knowing well beforehand, uh, what it is you’re going to teach and how you’re going to teach it. I’m just wondering then like what, what have you taken from planning lessons for the classroom over into the Jujitsu realm and what would your normal habit of planning for a Jujitsu lesson look like? So that’s, that’s really important I think, man. Like I think you see, you see some of these bigger schools, whether it’s like Gracie Bajo, Barrow, Jujitsu and stuff with the very comprehensive curriculum.

Jahred Dell: (52:36)
And I think this huge amounts of merit to that, um, you know, I’ve seen it in teaching as well. When you come into a department in a school that as well resourced has planned out curriculum and unit plans, if you want to call it that segments of learning, you know, it’s much easier to deliver that and inject meaningful light lessons, um, then kind of ragged all over the place stuff where you’re just nitpicking as it comes to you. I think in very few cases, unless you’re a really good natural teacher that that’s going to work. Um, just because, yeah, well if, if you don’t have a plan going in, you don’t have the time to consider the variables who’s in the class. All of those things we’ve been talking about. [inaudible] you have to free brain up. And I think sometimes the planning thing is crucial for that.

Jahred Dell: (53:29)
Um, I’m just, I’m very lucky that like, just, I think, I guess it’s the way my brain works in that and I’ve been doing it for five years in a classroom setting. I have a very good idea of the direction we’re going in. And what details need to be covered, but it’s because my oldest doesn’t know my students. Um, I can sit there and go, okay, well I know students one through five, I really confident with the idea of grammar, but students five through 10 I really struggling with full stops and commas, I’m going to address that as a whole class thing so that they don’t feel really dumb about what they do. I’ll take the same thing into my, into any teaching that I’ve got to do on the maths, you know, like, um, if I’m covering, if I’m covering an evening class where, um, one of our specific instructors for the last two weeks has been covering, let’s say, ah, God pulling, I’m gonna, I’m gonna stick with what they’ve been doing.

Jahred Dell: (54:24)
So there’s a theme that people are familiar with. I’m not about to go, hey guys, here’s some really out there Scifi shit that has nothing to do with what we’ve been building on, you know? Yeah. Like build, build on things that students feel confident with. Add one or two things. If you have advanced people in the room, give them the onus to add what they want. Awesome. Same questions to add in cause um, it’s been kind of regular now where like I’ll be, I’ll be a purple belt taking their class and you’ve got a brown belt deciding to drop in. I still want them to be able to get benefit out of that even if they’re not the one that’s going to instruct the class because they haven’t been there seeing direction and the structure and the curriculum of what’s going on. Um, yeah, I think it’s huge, man.

Jahred Dell: (55:11)
I, I, I know some schools, um, you know, more competitive focus might not do it that way. There’s, there’s different structures and there’s, there’s merit to all of them. But I think if you, if you’ve got an academy that compensates for everyone and accommodates everyone, you have to have some kind of structure in there. Otherwise it’s just going to be a lot of people who lost and have good pictures of some of Jujitsu and then big holes in their game and other parts. And you know, [inaudible] if any, even hobbyists have aspirations to compete, big holes get exposed and that can often be a big, um, [inaudible] unmotivated or, um, disappointment for them and it can lead to that drop off once again. Mm. So that really drives home the, you know, the importance of curriculum and having a good curriculum established. Um, which is interesting cause of course Jujitsu changes so quickly and you know, there’s always such a, you know, especially with, um, you know, things like Instagram that there’ll be the new moves coming up every single day that students are coming to class to see. And,

Sonny Brown: (56:24)
you know, how would you feel the process of establishing something into the curriculum should go for some, for some UA things? Or would you think it’d be better just to have, you know, solid fundamentals in that, in that curriculum?

Jahred Dell: (56:37)
Man? Uh, that’s, yeah, I think the, the Shim massive inflammation on Youtube and social media these days really can dilute what’s going on within a school and within learning. I think it’s so uninformed to take a technique off like off of social media, off of Youtube, Instagram, where have you seen it? And they just teach it. You know, like that would be like me going into a history classroom. I’m going all right, well let’s watch like 20 minutes of a history documentary and then we’re going to write an essay on it. [inaudible] it doesn’t work. MMM. Like you have to understand the full context of why it’s happening. When does this work, have you applied it like against resisting opponents? Cause that’s the big one I see online and this is my biggest fear and like my friends and I, my friends and I have this running joke at the moment about [inaudible] like we call it a Scifi technique is one that’s just like done against the non resisting opponent. Never been trialed in competition and gets like 1,015 a thousand likes on Instagram or whatever. Yeah,

Sonny Brown: (57:51)
it looks very cool.

Jahred Dell: (57:53)
Yeah. Yeah. It looks like lasers and yeah, and like spaceships, you know. But at the bottom line cut the bullshit. Like, we want to see it work in real time. It trial tasted stuff, you know, like right. You got like a back flip entrance to like MNR a row like into like it outside of Hill Hook or whatever. It’s like, yeah, Grande. How many times have you hit this? You know,

Sonny Brown: (58:19)
I think I saw that one this morning.

Jahred Dell: (58:24)
Yeah, but look, okay I, and this is it. It’s not to knock the creative process of some people because at the end of the day it is called Marshall. Oh, it’s for a reason. Ah, it’s because these expression and these creativity in there and I think seeing some of these options that these guys come up with is [inaudible] is amazing. Like I have to, if I see something cool online, I mean don’t get me wrong, I still engage with it. I still like it. I still, I still want to know man, how did he do that? But I’m way past the point now of going, hey, do you mind if I try this one youtube technique on you? Like get Outta here with that Shit, man. Hit It on me when we roll, like see the live application of it, because that’s what’s really gonna make sense to a person at any level. White Belt, all black belt, you know, you’re not just going to pick up a baron Bolo and, and of offline and then suddenly expect a hidden in class the first time.

Sonny Brown: (59:16)
Doesn’t work that way. Yeah. So, sure. So, sure. So I think this has been a great conversation, Jared. And I’ll just finish up with one last question basically of is there any unusual habits on your martial arts training that you believe help you, we’ve talked about the structure of curriculum then, but is there anything unstructured or you know, Scifi stuff that you enjoy that a, that you think fits you?

Jahred Dell: (59:45)
Yeah, Bro, for sure. Um, you know, the big ones me when I was a white belt, right, right about to get into competition was having something outside of the training, outside of physical activity that’ll help me. Um, so for the first time when I was, I think I was like 23, I read, I’m Musashi’s, uh, the book of five rings, like classic. Okay. Cannon martial arts book to read, but from that point on, whether it was reading or completely disengaging from the subject of Jujitsu, I found that I needed like an hour a day to do that because it’s got to the point now at work where even though I’m working and I’m teaching and I’m engaged mentally, I’m still thinking about you, Jesse. Um, you know, it’s got that all consuming, uh, quality about it. [inaudible] as someone who’s a little bit OCD in that way, I had to find a way to switch off.

Jahred Dell: (01:00:39)
Um hmm. Not with physical exercise, not with anything. And so whether that gaming, like I do a fair bit of gaming. I’m watching a TV show, reading a book book, listening to a podcast. I Dunno if it’s Wacky, but like, I mean, I find for me that I need to do that to switch off. Otherwise I’m going into my training, not fully present and Boone’s out. Um, I’m just trying to think what other kinds of things. Yeah, I’d say, I would say that’s pretty much about it really. Um, you know, once you started getting into that routine, it’s pretty hard to, to get out of it. Like, I love watching a movie, like I’ll go and watch any kind of movie that’s on, especially on like a weekend, um, usually Sundays, the day off. So I’ll just do like literally nothing if I don’t have privates lined up, I’m not doing anything too, just to relate it on a Sunday. Um, and literally would just like try my best not to talk about it and not see any of that. Maybe write up my articles for the week and then that’s about it. You know, the writing process is a big one for me. Like if I’m grappling with an idea in my brain about Jujitsu, I’ll write it down. Um, that’s, that’s a huge one for me. Yeah.

Sonny Brown: (01:01:55)
So with that, uh, then if you’re, you know, reading the book, you mentioned the book of the five rigs or writing, is there, is there another book that you’ve, you know, that you’ve found most influential in your teaching style?

Jahred Dell: (01:02:08)
Oh, man. Um, I’m just looking on my shelf here. Um, it’s growing by the day. Um, yeah, I’ve got like, um, I do have Sally who barrows, uh, Jujitsu University. I found that really good. Yep. But I found mastering Jujitsu by Danaher to be pretty informative. Like I actually stumbled across that recently. Yeah, it’s really good. Um, I only got it recently. Um, and I still just go back to it and I look at some of, I mean it’s highly conceptual, you know, like we are talking about earlier, um, very like very abstracted ideas. And I guess that’s why Adeno is considered like almost in a mystical sense. Um, because he has these, he has an understanding of concept that I’d probably say second to none. Um, I will often read like some of my, um, some of my old favorite philosophers, like cal papa is a favorite of mine.

Jahred Dell: (01:03:05)
Um, he’s a philosopher of science. Yeah. Philosopher of science. Um, you know, he came up, you know, the tomb pseudo science. Um, yeah, he’s actually created to creating that term. So this is no, no small influence on the state of science. Um, I, I’ve, a lot of my learning has been informed by his ideas of how a paradigm is formed, you know, and the metagame of something in Jujitsu is closely related to a scientific paradigm. So I often go back to his stuff and I read, I read a lot of his things. Um, yeah, I’ll send you through some of essays. Um, excellent. He’s pretty well written. Yeah. And then guys like a bitch and Russell very, very interesting philosophers that there’s a lot of crossover that, you know, it doesn’t just apply within their field. It’s got that a kind of transcendence in a lot of ways. Yeah. Um, I guess pretty nerdy with the philosophy stuff, um, as it’s one of the things I teach, but I studied at university, so I guess that would be, and a little bit left field in terms of things I do outside of Jujitsu.

Sonny Brown: (01:04:12)
No, that’s good. I’ll be interested in checking out what you’ve got to send through to me. And Jared, this has been an excellent conversation that I’ve really enjoyed and have taken a lot from. Um, and hopefully when we share this out there, everyone else will, will enjoy from it as well. Um, so much to, to process. If the people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way they can, they can follow you.

Jahred Dell: (01:04:39)
Yeah. Thank you man. Um, so I am pretty active on Facebook through articulate BJJ. Um, obviously I publish all my writing too, articulate bjj.com. Um, I mean that’s my handle on Instagram as well. It’s just

Sonny Brown: (01:04:55)

Jahred Dell: (01:04:55)
articulate BJJ. You know, I, I tried to write at least three times a week, but um, I’m pretty active all the time. Yeah. Just if people want to hit me up, usually usually engaged with everyone that messages me through the blog. Um, but yeah. Thanks. Thanks very much for your time, man. It’s been really awesome to talk.

Sonny Brown: (01:05:15)
Yeah. Being great conversation. I really, really appreciate that. Well, um, yeah, thanks. Thanks a lot. And uh, hopefully we can do this again sometime in the future. Yeah, I’d love to. Thank you. Bye. Awesome. Right. I’ll let you go. You have a great evening. And that’s it for this episode of the Sonny Brown breakdown. If you can please leave a review on the apple store and also check out Sonny brown.net for links to my youtube channel and other social media pages. Thank you.