BJJ is exactly like ESL. I brought this up in this post. Now to expand a bit.

In our TESOL certification program, when we teach lesson planning, we use an E-I-F framework: Encounter, Internalize, Fluency. During the “Encounter” portion, students are introduced to the new vocabulary or grammar or situation. In the “Internalize” section, students practice practice practice the new language in controlled situations. Finally, during the “Fluency” part, they have a chance to use the language on their own, in a freer context.

Actually, it’s also sometimes called P-P-P, Presentation, Practice, Production. But for now we’ll stick to EIF, since that’s what we call it in our program. It is certainly not the only way to do it–you can also have students do a task, then teach based on what you saw, then have them do the task again. That’s called T-T-T, or Task-Teach-Task. And actually, if you were teaching me how to make cookies or brownies, you may want to see what I already know and what I’m doing so that you can know what to teach, then teach it, and have me do it again, adding what I’ve learned to the mix.

But back to EIF.

From what I’ve experienced, as well as what I’ve read about on forums, BJJ classes roughly follow that EIF framework after they do the warmup.

Encounter: Teach a new technique
Internalize: Students practice this, then perhaps do positional sparring
Fluency: Students spar

You COULD also call the Encounter part “Teaching,” the Internalize part “Drilling,” and the Fluency part “Sparring.”

It can take a bit of time to go from the practice to the application, especially if the new vocabulary is over the students’ heads. It’s one problem with mixed ability classes. One way that some instructors deal with this is to show a technique that everyone, including beginners can work on and that more advanced can refine, then add to that technique so that the more advanced can practice something extra, while the beginners continue to focus on the basic.

When I first started learning, so much was flat out over my head. I was an absolute beginner mixed with folks who had been doing it for years. I was working on vocabulary I had no real chance to use. A bit like trying to teach someone how to use past perfect when they haven’t grasped past tense.

So I was absolutely THRILLED when last week I actually applied what I’d learned in the class during sparring. It was a simple move–some basic vocabulary–but I did it. It was locking down a half-guard.

My poor little brain couldn’t figure out how to transition

I had to stop the teacher during the drilling portion to ask how to get my feet to go from basic half guard to the lock down, since I was doing it in the least inefficient way possible. To be honest, half the time I can’t tell whose leg is whose and have to focus on the gi colors. 🙂 Then, in sparring, I had my partner in half guard and a light went off in my head and I smoothly moved my legs from half guard to the lock down.

I did a happy dance in my head. Could I remember what to do after that? Heck no! But darn it, I applied what I’d learned. THAT is a good teacher–someone who can teach you a technique or vocabulary or grammar that is IMMEDIATELY useful. Part of my teaching philosophy is that language needs to be accessible and used, so it was very nice to feel on the receiving end of that.

To clarify: I don’t believe that one way is the absolute best way. But what was nice was this meshed well with my personal teaching philosophy, and it was super fantastic to be able to use something immediately. It gave me a feeling of success.

So how about you? How successful are you at applying what you’ve learned? Does your instructor give you language that’s useful for you immediately, or is it more of a situation where you’re memorizing words and then several months later you finally are able to use them? Does your instructor follow a different format?