By David Figueroa-Martinez
I’ve recently found myself going back and forth with the idea of proposing a new class to both Jason and Professor Regis. My worries were that either the idea would be shot down, or if approved, that the class would fail miserably. All valid concerns if I’m being honest, but my time in Jiu-Jitsu has been about setting goals and pushing past them. If the goals themselves don’t shake me, then they weren’t lofty enough for me. Keep in mind, I don’t like public speaking and I generally hate being the focus of attention. Teaching, unsurprisingly, embodies both of these aspects, yet my want of helping people get better overshadows what makes me most uncomfortable.
As an observer, one of the things that I’ve noticed is that not many White and Blue Belts drill before or after class. While someone who’s been training for a while can get by with not drilling due to years of muscle memory, a new student has to build that dexterity up in order to have decent responses during training.
Another thing I noticed was that there weren’t enough advanced students taking lower belts under their wing. Don’t get me wrong, yes it happens, but I just don’t feel like there is enough of it. I think that it's just part of the sport. Attrition among White and Blue Belts is high and the advanced students know it. So naturally, you’ll find some advanced belts who are a bit standoffish about investing their time in just anyone.
In putting this class together, my hope is to solve both of these issues.
For example, the class is available only to White and Blue Belts, and will be structured around the needs of the individual students. What I mean by that, is that the students will decide what they want to drill during part of their time with me. If Jason for example, comes in and wants to drill an escape that Professor Regis taught earlier in the week, he can do so. His partner on the other hand, may have seen a completely different technique that intrigued them. He or she has the ability to drill that technique during their allotted time.
My goal with this approach is to empower the students to take some ownership over their training and develop their own game plan based on their interests.
Ultimately, whatever they decide to drill during this class will be their homework assignment for the week. By making that technique part of their game plan during their rolls, they’ll be able to gather the necessary data to fine tune it. When they return the following Sunday, we can discuss what went well and what did not, and offer solutions or counters then drilling those.
Depending on what I see during class, I may also show an additional technique and offer time to drill that. Following that, Situational Sparring, rolling, and an opportunity for Q and A will round out the class before we call it a day.