It used to be that people would joke about learning jiu-jitsu online. If you did something unusual, something that wasn’t taught in class, your training partners might sneer, “Where’d you learn that from? YouTube?? Ha. Ha. Ha.” Thankfully, that’s all behind us, and studying BJJ videos – whether from someone’s DVD series, through a subscription to an online jiu-jitsu website, or yes, from YouTube – is considered an important supplement to your jiu-jitsu training.
But are you studying the right way?
Here are five tips to help you watch jiu-jitsu training videos, and retain all of that valuable information you’re learning off the mat.
Find an Instructor You Like
All BJJ training videos are not created equal. This is largely due to the person teaching the technique. Just as with attending class in person, you’ll find that there are certain instructors that you have an easier time learning from than others. It might be because of their language abilities, their teaching style, how detailed they are or aren’t, or even just the tone and pace of their voice. If you have difficulty learning from someone, this doesn’t necessarily mean he/she is a bad instructor – others might not have any issue – but it does limit your ability to grow your jiu-jitsu with that person.
The best way to find an instructor that you like is to basically “shop” a few different instructors. I suggest selecting a very basic technique, maybe some kind of submission or sweep from closed guard, and see how each instructor breaks down and explains the technique. You’ll quickly be able to determine which instructor has the right vibe and amount of details for you.
Just as you would in a regular class at school, you should always be taking notes when you study online jiu-jitsu techniques. In fact, you should even be keeping a notebook for the classes at your home academy. Research has shown that taking notes, especially by hand versus digitally, helps you to better retain the information that you’re learning. This is because the physical process of taking notes facilitates the encoding of the information into your brain, because you have to think back to what you learned, process it all, and summarize that information in a way that makes sense for you. Additionally, when you take notes, you have a permanent reference source, allowing you to look back and review what you learned at any time, without having to rely just on your memory.
Watch to Your Level
It’s easy to get caught up in watching some new crazy move. Jiu-jitsu is exciting, and it’s rapidly evolving, so there’s always going to be a ton of videos out there of very advanced, complicated techniques. But if you’re just beginning your jiu-jitsu journey, it doesn’t make sense to watch those videos, as you don’t yet have the foundational knowledge required to really understand what you’re seeing. That isn’t to say that you’re forbidden from watching them. Watch away! Just don’t be too upset if you have no idea how to actually implement them live, because you weren’t able to notice those subtle details that make them work.
Instead, try to “watch to your level.” If you’re a white belt, search for those positions that you’re currently focusing on in class or working on with your instructor during your private training sessions. Simple submissions, sweeps or defenses from the closed guard, mount, back, or side control are great options for you. If you’re a blue belt, look for variations of the techniques that you’re working on in class, to discover new details or options that might not have been covered. Higher belts should also be reviewing positions or techniques learned in class, for the same reasons, as well as expanding their knowledge of technique chains and sequences – where one technique might lead into another, or responses to your opponent’s defense of your initial attacks. By at least purple belt, you should be able to have enough of a foundation to be able to do this.
Just as consistency is key with your regular jiu-jitsu training, you should also be consistent in studying online BJJ training videos. Get into the habit of setting aside a certain amount of time each day to study. It doesn’t have to be much… maybe 10-30 minutes, more only if you have the time. When you establish a habit of studying jiu-jitsu videos, not only are you training your brain to be more receptive to this kind of “off-the-mat training,” but you are also accumulating a lot more hours of your brain being focused on jiu-jitsu than someone who just attends class.
Implement What You Learned
Of course, all of that time studying jiu-jitsu isn’t worth much if you don’t actually try to implement it live, at the academy. The best way to do this is to find a good drilling buddy, set a specific time – maybe before class, after, or during an entirely separate time during the day – to drill what you’ve been studying. This is where your notes will really come in handy. Or, as this is the age of technology, you can flag your favorite techniques online (Atos Online has a “Favorites” feature that allows you to easily do this), and play them during your drilling session. Once you feel you’ve become fairly proficient with the technique, attempt it during live sparring. You may fail a time or two – or many – but gradually you’ll be able to see what works, what doesn’t, and you’ll be able to go back to the video and identify what you might have missed.
The motto of the Atos Online Academy is “Train Smarter. Study More.” Studying online BJJ videos is guaranteed to help you train smarter and learn jiu-jitsu better and faster, but only if you’re studying the right way. We hope these tips will help you do just that!