Taking Private Lessons

Private lessons are one of the key ways students can rapidly excel at Jiu Jitsu.  In a one on one setting the student gets to feel the weight distribution and can be given the small personalized adjustments to make movements work.  Taking a private lesson is an irreplaceable way to improve.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was initially taught exclusively in a one on one or extremely small group setting.  I’m glad that training has expanded to allow more people to appreciate the art, but the occasional private lesson is still a great tune up.

When Should I Take A Private Lesson?

Most people should take at a minimum one private lesson every 6 months.  After the first 6 months of training, you should have a basic concept of some of the core movements.  You have an idea of what techniques you like and do well, versus what you don’t feel comfortable with.  A private lesson with no infrastructure of knowledge under it is a much worse return on the investment.

What do I mean?

You can learn many of the basic concepts of Jiu Jitsu as part of your attendance in every day class.

  • frames/barriers
  • don’t turn away from your opponent
  • respect their grips
  • good and bad grips

Applying these concepts in live rolling gives you feedback as to how well you understand them.  These concepts would be covered in the regular classes at your academy.  Private lessons are best used like a turbo booster to really accelerate growth on your own individual journey.

Some Great Reasons To Take A Private Lesson

Private Lessons To Fix A Blind Spot

Private lessons are great at filling in blind spots.  What I mean by a blind spot, is an area where you know you aren’t getting a concept based on your results.  The key here is you also don’t know why.  If you know the why, then the answer is probably drill that particular movement more.  Your instructor should be able to put you in your “blind spot” scenario and make quick corrections by feeling what you are doing there.

lucas walker guard passOften in these blind spots I find that students are falling for “optical illusions” in Jiu Jitsu.  “Optical illusions” are areas where the student sees the movement and interprets an aspect in a way that makes sense to them but is actually slightly wrong.

An example of this principle is a private lesson I showed the other day on the trap and roll mount escape.  Many people do exactly that, they trap and then they roll.  There is actually a key step in between which is the bridge.  A solid bridge with feet close to the butt shifts your opponent’s weight from your hips (which you need to turn) to your chest.  Now your hips have a better chance of turning to come on top.  Seeing this move, it is easy to miss the distinction, but once you have felt the difference it makes complete sense.

Your blind spots tend to be areas you dread going into.  If I am thinking “I hate it when I get stuck in the bottom of turtle.” I need better options from that position.  Every position has technical options, they just may not be obvious at first.  Fixing these blind spots is an important tactic when you are one of the worst grapplers on the mat.

Preparing For A Tournament

At least 2 weeks out from your first few tournaments I strongly recommend a private lesson to build a game plan.  Tournaments aren’t about who has the better overall Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but who can implement their gameplan and play in a way that favors them.

Your coach can help you build all of the elements and make sure your plan connects together.  Once you have a game plan honed by your coach, it is your job to work it every chance you get during rolling.  Make sure it stays sharp and there are no surprises.

Tweaks And Fixes After A Tournament

Win or lose in a tournament there are always things we could have done better.  The losses stick with us more sometimes.  If I lose, my number one goal is to patch the way that I lost so that I have to lose IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WAY at the next tournament.  Losing the same way a few tournaments in a row is an error in my preparation.Private Lesson After A Tournament

Video or seeing your match live should give your coach an idea of what alterations need to be made.  You should also have a list of things that you felt about your matches strategy and techniques.

Sometimes from the outside watching a match, I don’t consider something a problem because the competitor got lucky.  As a coach it is easier to focus on the larger adjustments and the more detail oriented the competitor is the more we can preventively make corrections for future tournaments.

Improving Finishes

Once you have honed a position so you reliably beat people of your own skill level, it is time to upgrade your abilities to start pursuing upper belts.  Your instructor will help you develop a system of built in responses to the most common reactions, and tighten up details that allow room for escapes.  This step is key to becoming one of the best grapplers on the mat.

Conclusion: Take A Private Lesson With Your Instructor!

Figure out what part of your game needs to be super charged, take a private lesson, and improve today.  Make sure you TAKE NOTES after your lesson is over.  The surest way to waste money is to learn some awesome details you feel like you will never forget, but after the weekend you can’t remember where your other hand is supposed to be and the move isn’t working anymore.  A quick look at the notes, will give you a flashback of the whole private lesson usually and you will remember things that you didn’t even write down!

Also, remember to get in your repetitions and drill what you just learned to commit it to muscle memory as quickly as possible.  Don’t make the mistake of working on too much at once, instead focus your progress.

Take A Private Lesson With CaioWhen high level practitioners perform seminars they often have private lessons available for purchase.  A private lesson with a Jiu Jitsu star will cost more than one with your instructor but get a chance to train one on one with a legend of the sport.  Worth it for the memory, and learning part of their A Game.

Note:  Don’t waste their time.  Be thoroughly prepared!

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