Some of the questions I get asked about the most are related to Alive drilling methods. So I decided I would devote this article to some details on that subject.
As most of you who follow SBGi to some degree know, my main message is that of Aliveness. If Aliveness doesn’t come first, then everything else unravels to some degree and what we are left with isn’t even the same animal. So in order to be on the same page when teaching somewhere new, I always start with that vital principle.
After that comes the curriculum itself. And this gets into my entire teaching thesis, which I have laid out here in various articles. The basic premise being that the entire curriculum, stand up, clinch and ground revolves around the fundamentals of the delivery system. And because of this, each individual athlete is given the freedom needed to develop his/her own style; one that is optimum for their own body, mind and temperament.
In a Gym that focuses on fundamentals, as opposed to a technique-by-technique template, each and every purple belt (as one example) will roll using very different types of games. And this not only produces better athletes/technicians quickly, it also helps impart and preserve the core Art (delivery system) itself.
It is about giving students not just the game, but also the understanding behind why the game works the way it does; a point that is for me as a Coach, very important. Learning to think critically/rationally, and understanding why things work the way they do as opposed to simply how something works, is very important to me as a teacher.
Of course certain core movements and techniques help form that curriculum, but as you will see in the article below sometimes these can be as simple as a posture, or a concept.
To be clear this teaching thesis is not new, and certainly not something I claim to have invented.
My first big BJJ influence (and the person who gave me my blue belt) was Rickson Gracie. And I owe a lot of credit to my understanding of how important focusing on fundamentals is to him. *(My Coach who awarded me my purple, brown and black belts is Chris Haueter, and he had a massive influence on me as well. I will talk about that influence later on in this article) If you have ever watched Rickson teach you will notice he seldom (if ever) shows anything that your average blue belt has not already been exposed to at some point. Yet each and every time, a new detail or key point is revealed in his class about that core movement. And that is for me, the definition of a great Instructor.
As a recent example of the contrast that sometimes occurs, a few of our blue and purple belts recently visited another BJJ schools competitive open roll run by another BJJ black belt. One thing everyone noticed quickly was that everyone from the other Gym was using more or less the same set of techniques. The same couple of guard passes, the same escape series, the same attacks, etc. By comparison, every blue & purple belt on the mat from our Gym was playing a different type/style of game. Needless to say, our athletes did extremely well.
We have many visitors at the Portland Gym who travel from all across the USA and World. And this point about the wide variety of styles represented on my mat always gets noticed. It’s no secret, it is just the natural by product of focusing on the fundamentals.