Keeping Track of positions pic

For those of you who train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the title of this post should probably bring you a slight smile, with a nod of approval.  That is why you are smiling, isn't it?  In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the most minor of details is everything.  These details include which way you shift your hip, do you grip with the right hand or left hand?  Hold the lapel thumb up or thumb down?  These are the subtleties that make or break a position.

During today's instruction, we spent about 10 minutes after class with our Black Belt instructor reviewing one one specific thing.  A flying armbar?  no.  An upside down triangle? think again.  We spent minutes going over the proper position of your foot in a specific scenario.  Keeping your foot flat, or keeping up on your toe.

This may seem ridiculous to some of you, but trust me it's not.  That slight difference changes everything.  One position provides a stronger base, better balance, leverage and power.  The other way you position your foot is inferior for that position and could cost you the fight, or your life in a self defense scenario. 

It's details like these that change everything, yet are we expected to remember this stuff?  For those of you who took school seriously, did you attend class with no pencil, pen or paper?  Did you just show up, listen patently and ace all the exams?  Probably not.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the same, we spend years wearing the same belt before we are promoted, this is because we spend years learning.  There is a lot to learn, that is why the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt is one of the most coveted belts in all modern martial arts. 

With regards to notes.  I've taken notes for class before, I think most of us have here and there.  It's important, because as a higher belt there are times that you need to explain or teach a lesson.   It's not a good idea to "wing it" based on how you remember a specific position being executed.  Years ago, I used to keep a journal book where I kept my notes, which sometimes included sketched out drawings for the things I couldn't even explain!

I also attempted to keep track of my positions in a personal blog that I kept.  That was working out very well for me.  Here's where the challenge begins:  Consistency.  It's a challenge consistently take a few minutes after class to write up notes on the lesson.  Ideally that same day or at the latest the day following, get those notes typed or written up, before you forget the details that "make" the position.   Sometimes these positions are like a sweet submission dream, a dream that when you wake up the next morning, you only remember dream, but not the details of what happened.

I would suggest to simply jot a few notes, maybe broken down by steps.  Here's an example:

Guard:  How to Repose Guard:
1) Details of this step
2) Details of this step
3) ....

I think most positions can be covered pretty well in 5-7 steps, with a sentence or two describing each step.  Although some positions I've kept notes of have taken up an entire binder page.  The topic, or position is important because that can help you begin to understand what positions you have notes for, and what needs more work.  This will help you begin building an arsenal of positions.  It will make your training more effective.

I know what you're thinking, "Man, I just wanna go out there and roll" or "C-mon bro, I don't want to take notes, I'm gonna feel like I'm back in school!"   I say this because I felt that way at one point.  Well, here's a cruel reality for you, you don't want to be the higher belt who rolls really well, but can't teach or even explain a single position to anyone.  Trust me, that's not who you want to become. 

By the way, this post was written based on the suggestion of a reader.  If you would like to suggest any specific topics for me to write about, please comment to this post, remember you can comment completely anonymously.   

One final suggestion, you may want to avoid the Hannah Montana binder for your Jiu Jitsu notes, just sayin' it would be awkward if we both show up to a Jiu Jitsu seminar with the same Hannah Montana binder.  Happy training to all, especially those of you who are reading this from a location that where Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not readily accessible to you.