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Old 05-06-2010, 03:05 PM
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Default The Banking Method of Jiu Jitsu

Not really sure where this belongs, but I figured that since it's about BJJ & MMA , it should go here in the Training section.

It's a really interesting article discussing a Brazilian educator's philosophy of information retention & comprehension coupled with BJJ. It's from a blog called "The Inner Game of Jui-Jitsu", and I highly recommend it to everyone. This guy is really insightful & has, multiple times, made me stop & realize that I had a gaping flaw in my mental game that I needed to address.

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Since Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a Brazilian art, let's talk about the Brazilian educational system. Their most well known educator and educational theorist and philosopher is a guy named Paulo Freire. I am no expert by any means as you can get advanced degrees on his work. But I know a little, just enough to get my mind thinking.

He believes a flaw in education and learning is something he calls the banking method of teaching. That we the students are empty vessels to be filled by the educators. We have no critical analysis, no self reflection, no consciousness. We are shaped by whatever gets filled into our empty coin slots of a mind. There is also then a dichotomy between teacher and student, authority and subject.

He thinks there are two ways to learn, unconscious practical knowledge and self reflective knowledge. To make it simple the way we learn now is passive learning, we know info and can regurgitate it but we have no idea how to apply it. As many new college graduates realized they know a lot of stuff but no way to apply it. We always call these people "book smart" because they seem to be an encyclopedia of knowledge but of little practical use. So the difference lies in passive learning, just storing information, or active learning, owning information. He questions knowledge and doesn't believe you know anything unless you know why that information is important, thought about it, and can apply it in some way.

This also happens in BJJ or a lot of martial arts. We are considered an empty vessel to be filled by our instructor. With no discussion, no self reflection, no dialogue. Whatever our instructor tells us or shows us becomes a belief but it never becomes knowledge. Knowledge is shapped by discussion and critical self reflection and dialogue.

So we learn this move, then that move, and whatever our instructor tells us is right. No wonder it seems like in BJJ there is some sort of destiny where some people get it, and some people never get it...no matter how long they train. If BJJ is based on math and physics and logic, then it should be something every last human being should be able to grasp. But there is a high turnover rate especially at blue belt of people who quit because they never got it. Even people who get their ranks out of commitment, even though "they never get it."

There is even a problem with the whole teacher and student dichotomy. It's not a good organic environment to truly shape knowledge of there is someone in charge of it, who dictates if something is correct or not correct, and if they are the master of all that you learn. Freire believes there should be Teacher/Student and Student/Teacher. Meaning the teacher is always still a student who is willing to learn and the student is also a teacher who is willing to share discoveries.

Sometimes in training, when the class is over and there are a lot of good guys, just training, talking, sharing ideas, this is the hot bed of life in Jiu Jitsu. When your game will grow like a living organism. It won't be stuffed and stifled down by rules or waiting to ask questions or just sitting there and letting the teacher show you want he wants, now what you need. No wonder Robert Drysdale says sparring is more important than drilling. He may not realized it but during that time is when things bend, move, get reshaped and shaped. Knowledge is created. Not all the time but when the environment is right.

Some people feel this kind of learning has no structure. Well most active learning doesn't seem to have a structure because it is so organic but it definitely does. Don't mistake, teacher talks, you listen with structure.

Even drilling a move incessantly is a form of passive learning. A mistake some people will make is, to thinking just because you drill a lot you are technical and have a grasp of Jiu Jitsu. It is just taking what the teacher showed you, and doing what he just showed you without the teacher being there. Basically an autonomous empty vessel who will now refill his mind slot with the teacher's information on his own...ad nauseam.

The structure to active learning is, identity, purpose, method. Identify what is being taught, what is the purpose of it, what is the best way to apply it. For instance I am training with someone and he is almost passing my guard. I must identify what he is doing, low pass! What is the purpose of this move? To pass my guard. What will be my method to retain my guard?

If we compete like we train, and in training we are just automatons who do the teacher's bidding, we will definitely have a hard time. Now if in your training you learned to identify, calculate purpose, figure out a method to change this threat, then you will also do this while sparring or competing.

Question what you think is truly "being technical" or a "good teacher" or a "good student." Then throw out the idea of student and teacher and being technical.

BJJ SHOULD BE LIKE A LAB, NOT A CLASSROOM.

Challenge everything you think you know and you believe. Then make the correct adjustments to your training.
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Old 05-06-2010, 03:57 PM
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Great article. The last couple weeks I've been really busy with a couple plays I'm in. The time committment has made it impossible for me to get to my thursday, Saturday, and Sunday session for Muay Thai. I have, however been able to make it to Boxing/Sparring on Monday nights. Even though I'm missing some important technique classes I have foudn that through the sparring I'm improving a great deal each week.
I'm a big supporter of this learning and I also agree that sparring (correctly) is the best way to get better.
I'm very careful that if I make mistakes and get beat to stop and go over what I did wrong and also to ask my partners what they're seeing and vice versa.
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Old 05-06-2010, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Llamafighter View Post
Great article. The last couple weeks I've been really busy with a couple plays I'm in. The time committment has made it impossible for me to get to my thursday, Saturday, and Sunday session for Muay Thai. I have, however been able to make it to Boxing/Sparring on Monday nights. Even though I'm missing some important technique classes I have foudn that through the sparring I'm improving a great deal each week.
I'm a big supporter of this learning and I also agree that sparring (correctly) is the best way to get better.
I'm very careful that if I make mistakes and get beat to stop and go over what I did wrong and also to ask my partners what they're seeing and vice versa.
That's one thing that I love about the gym I've joined: everyone I've ever rolled with there is more than happy to help out & answer any questions I have about when I get caught. I also try to make sure that I roll with Andrew (our instructor) at least once per class so that I can just get completely tooled & reminded just how hard I need to work!
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Old 05-06-2010, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by VCURamFan View Post
That's one thing that I love about the gym I've joined: everyone I've ever rolled with there is more than happy to help out & answer any questions I have about when I get caught. I also try to make sure that I roll with Andrew (our instructor) at least once per class so that I can just get completely tooled & reminded just how hard I need to work!
definitely! one of my muay thai sparring partners just joined my boxing class and I got cracked a couple times pretty good only to find out that i was hanging my jab after I threw it. he is a lot more experienced than me and I love sparrign him because he'll actually take the time to let me know what I'm giving him.
Glad you're back in action, Ben!
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Old 05-06-2010, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Llamafighter View Post
definitely! one of my muay thai sparring partners just joined my boxing class and I got cracked a couple times pretty good only to find out that i was hanging my jab after I threw it. he is a lot more experienced than me and I love sparrign him because he'll actually take the time to let me know what I'm giving him.
Glad you're back in action, Ben!
Dude, I know exactly what you mean. There's this guy that I met for the first time during Monday's Gi class named Bjorn (Asian guy, maybe 25-26, 5'7", 160ish). He came to the MT class last night, which was just me, him our BJJ instructor (Andrew) & the MT instructor (Jarrett). We worked combos (jab-left elbow-spinning right elbow-right kick; jab-overhand right-right up elbow) with one guy holding the thai pads & the other two taking turns (i.e. Andrew held, Bjorn & I traded turns striking), then we rotated who held. Between MT & No-Gi, I asked Bjorn what I could have done to work the pads better. Since I'm about a foot taller than him, it was a little bit awkward when I held for him. He gave me some good tips, but the coolest part was that once BJJ class started, he knew I was willing to learn & take correction, so he paired up with me & really helped me out with all the little stuff that a newb like me typically misses.

I love it when I get to learn new stuff!!
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