Many times, students will scarcely remember a technique they practiced in class by the end of the week. Sometimes the move is entirely forgotten by the end of the class! With so many techniques being executed weekly, it’s challenging for BJJ practitioners to keep up and have those moves fresh in their heads to use while rolling. Here are a few tips to staying organized and on track, to memorize your BJJ techniques:
The old saying goes, “practice makes perfect,” but in the case of BJJ it should be more like, “drilling makes perfect.” The more a student drills, the more they learn. The more they get a feel for the technique, the easier their body can absorb, and adjust to it. When you first learn a new move, your body is pretty sluggish, and awkward at executing it, and you may even forget the order of the steps to do it in.
“I drill techniques – my main techniques, my ‘A’ move, my ‘A Game’ sweep, the guard pass and sub I hit the most, over and over again,” said Keenan Cornelius, a Hawaiian BJJ black belt known for his infamous “grand slam” in an interview with GracieMag. “ I’ve drilled them so many times, my body just reacts now. I can go out and let instinct take over. Most of our training is drilling, based on our individual games and what we do best.”
Cornelius goes on to say that before big tournaments, he sticks to the moves he’s mastered. “I just drill it to death,” he told the magazine. “If you’re thinking about what to do next, your competitor is already moving to his next move. It’s best to just react and let your body take over.”
Note taking is an excellent way to keep track of the moves you’re learning at practice, and help you stay technical. Many black belt BJJ holders, have kept a track record of notes since their first day of class! Can you imagine looking back ten years later, at a note titled, “what is side control?” Do it the old school way and get yourself a notebook dedicated to BJJ, or use your smartphone to write down notes. But keep in mind that your phone can break, or fall into water, and all those years of collected notes can disappear in a blink of an eye. It’s best to backup all your content, or copy important notes into a book, just to be secure. If anything happens, you won’t have lost loads of precious information. Another great way to memorize techniques, is to ask your coach for permission to film them. You’ll have the visual content from your class right at your fingertips. The other useful thing to do is to type the technique into a YouTube search bar. Yes, it’s that easy nowadays.
Many times while I’m trying to memorize a new technique, I’ll make up code words for certain key steps and moves, to help me remember exactly what to do. Since I trained for a long time in Brazil, I actually prefer to remember the names of techniques in Portuguese. Luckily, I roll with a girl who’s Brazilian and we can invent some ridiculous terminology to memorize the move as we practice it. For instance, to execute an arm triangle choke you must trap your opponent’s arm against their neck, slip your own arm under their head, and grab your bicep, on your other arm of course, then lift the arm you grabbed to the back of your head. My coach likes to describe that last part to us as, “answering the phone.” That’s the sort of short terminology that’s going to help you memorize the key details to your BJJ techniques.