David Jacobs' BJJGround Ability vs Knowledge

9 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 8611

I am a strong believer that ability is the main factor in success in any sport including Bjj. It is also the measure of progress. It's not what you know... it's what you can do. Ability is ableness. In other words, ability is simply being able to apply the techniques one has learned and practiced on a resisting opponent.

In my opinion, one's ability is the determing factor for growth, development, progress and success in Bjj. Now here's the thing: I don't think ability can be instilled. You either have it or you don't. Ability can be nurtured, coached, directed and guided but a coach/instructor can't give to a student nor can a student get it from a coach (or any other source including the accumulation of techniques). Incidentally, in my view, ability, as it relates to Bjj, is coordination, body awareness, body control, body mechanics.

Indeed, I think some people struggle with Bjj because they either lack ability and/or don't know how to maximize and develop the ability they have.

 

Thoughts? 

  

9 days ago
10/28/08
Posts: 1957

The most important knowledge anyone can have is how to learn to execute techniques on resisting opponents.  Everything else is bullshit.

8 days ago
12/26/02
Posts: 11938

mg, I'm shocked to hear you saying that ability is not instilled. 

My experience has been nearly opposite:  some folks come in with a high level of coordination and require little "instilling."  Everyone else needs coordination, body awareness, body control, and mechanical training.  

I think some people struggle because the instructors assume a baseline of these things that isn't present. But I also think that it behooves a professional instructor to be able to help students develop them.  (I'll cede that there is a certain percentage of people...let's generously call it 5-10%...who lack these general abilities to an extent that we could label "disability."  I'm exempting them from this discussion for now.)

8 days ago
11/11/11
Posts: 23394

Aptitude more than ability

7 days ago
3/2/04
Posts: 458
TheBearStare -

Aptitude more than ability

Yeah, I'd say the OP is describing aptitude (or possibly talent), though this gets into semantics. There are plenty of athletically gifted, talented students who pick things up really fast, then drop out because either they get bored (it comes too easily), or life gets in the way. 

As an instructor, those kind of students are great, because they're easy to teach. However, it can be much more rewarding to work with the students that aren't gifted but nevertheless manage to develop skill. I know that for me, my proudest moment so far was when a student in her 40s, with multiple chronic injuries (mainly nerve damage in her back), got promoted by my instructor and I to blue belt. 

7 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 8612
twinkletoesCT - 

mg, I'm shocked to hear you saying that ability is not instilled. 

My experience has been nearly opposite:  some folks come in with a high level of coordination and require little "instilling."  Everyone else needs coordination, body awareness, body control, and mechanical training.  

I think some people struggle because the instructors assume a baseline of these things that isn't present. But I also think that it behooves a professional instructor to be able to help students develop them.  (I'll cede that there is a certain percentage of people...let's generously call it 5-10%...who lack these general abilities to an extent that we could label "disability."  I'm exempting them from this discussion for now.)


Good point!

I agree some folks come in with a high level of coordination and require little "instilling."

I also agree many instructors assume each and every student have the same degree and level of movement experience and motor control.

You're right in that it is the instructors duty to help each student develop coordination, body awareness, and body control.
6 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 10780

I think a big issue when discussing these things is the emotional baggage that gets attached to these concepts.

When people are given a fixed term like "Ability" or "Talent" there is this idea that they can't improve, or they don't have control over how much they can improve. That is - if a person is of low ability... why bother? And of course no one wants to believe they are low ability.

The reality is that even if someone is low ability - they'll be able to make amazing progress not just compared to themselves, but compared to what the general population can do at large. Ability is the material you start out with, hard work/knowledge is what you do with that.

For example - it's pretty well established that on average a man's ability to life heavy things is significantly greater than a woman's ability to lift heavy things. However - most men don't do a great deal to explore that ability, and so this means there are women out there who are (without the use of steroids) measurably stronger than most men. Not a lot of course (becuase they're dealing with a smaller upper limit) - but enough to demonstrate my point. Same thing with martial arts, chess or any other pursuit.

Intelligence is another - some people have incredibly inate gifts, but do little to explore them so their performance in this case might be called "stupidity" or "ignorance". Conversely, a person who has a low or average IQ, but works diligently and consistently to improve themselves and what they can see/understand would be "smart". The final height they might be able to achieve might be lower - but in the end that's almost meaningless as their effective intelligence is going to be a combination of their small amount of "ability" in this case and an enormous amount of hard work.

But overall I think people should just focus on the fact that they're in a position to improve what they can do in any field simply by working harder/smarter at it. Being better than the person you were the day before, and not worrying so much if that means you will or won't be the next Rafa Mendes.

4 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 8615
robert bentley - 

I think a big issue when discussing these things is the emotional baggage that gets attached to these concepts.

When people are given a fixed term like "Ability" or "Talent" there is this idea that they can't improve, or they don't have control over how much they can improve. That is - if a person is of low ability... why bother? And of course no one wants to believe they are low ability.

The reality is that even if someone is low ability - they'll be able to make amazing progress not just compared to themselves, but compared to what the general population can do at large. Ability is the material you start out with, hard work/knowledge is what you do with that.

For example - it's pretty well established that on average a man's ability to life heavy things is significantly greater than a woman's ability to lift heavy things. However - most men don't do a great deal to explore that ability, and so this means there are women out there who are (without the use of steroids) measurably stronger than most men. Not a lot of course (becuase they're dealing with a smaller upper limit) - but enough to demonstrate my point. Same thing with martial arts, chess or any other pursuit.

Intelligence is another - some people have incredibly inate gifts, but do little to explore them so their performance in this case might be called "stupidity" or "ignorance". Conversely, a person who has a low or average IQ, but works diligently and consistently to improve themselves and what they can see/understand would be "smart". The final height they might be able to achieve might be lower - but in the end that's almost meaningless as their effective intelligence is going to be a combination of their small amount of "ability" in this case and an enormous amount of hard work.

But overall I think people should just focus on the fact that they're in a position to improve what they can do in any field simply by working harder/smarter at it. Being better than the person you were the day before, and not worrying so much if that means you will or won't be the next Rafa Mendes.


Excellent post!
4 days ago
6/21/13
Posts: 51

Every student is different. No two are the same   as the learn at different rates , learn from different teaching methods , and definitely attain the "skill"to hit techniques on fighting opponents usually using their own intellectual method developed through constant practice.  To treat every student the same is a beginners mistake at instruction...and have seen many times through my 20 years in the art.  

The very best instructors I have witnessed always talk to the individuals ..address individual issues with any given technique due to body size, strength , etc  . and I have always tried to emulate this while teaching . But the ability mentioned can ONLY be obtained through individual instruction AND practice hitting techniques on fighting opponents. Otherwise... we end up with internet black belts who cant hit the most basic techniques on an uke . Another thread for sure ..