I’ve been chatting with Megan from Tangled Triangle (You remember her awesome article A Microbiologist’s Take on BJJ, right?), and both of us expressed a desire to get more focused in our attempts to improve our jiu jitsu, and a bit of a loss as to how.

As you may know, I train English teachers. What you may not know is that every semester, students create a plan for improving their English, and I give feedback on it. One problem they often have is that when it comes to improving their grammar, often their only plan is to do grammar exercises in a book. The problem is that this is one aspect and there’s not often true reflection or even use. I wanted to take what I know about this and apply it to my jiu jitsu game plan in a methodical, thoughtful manner.

I picked the name Operation: Tattered Belt because I didn’t want this to just be about blue belts, or about achieving a higher belt, but if we spend the extra time on the mats, it should show up on our belts. ^_^

Saulo Ribeira’s book Jiu Jitsu University, specifically the first two chapters – white and blue belts, and Roy Dean’s video Blue Belt Requirements.We chose these based on their availability and because they are widely recognized as some of the best basic basic material on the market. Also because I spent the money and they’ve been just sitting on my shelf, and I really hate wasting money.

Click to go to Amazon.

Click the picture to go to Roy’s site.

Aha! My strength! I train teachers in important fundamentals, and these are areas I feel are important for a strong plan of self-improvement.

1. Beginning and ending evidence
2. Beginning and ending self assessment
3. Study/Planning (mental/solo)
4. Drilling/practicing (controlled output)
5. Using it in real life situations (authentic output)
6. Watch for it in use (noticing)

Can you improve without some of these? Absolutely, but it would be incomplete. For example, if you are in a class, your teacher is observing you and assessing you. On your own, you don’t have that luxury, so you have to operate as the teacher as well.

If a student of mine is looking to improve their use of conditionals, rather than simply do grammar drills, I’d suggest they take a self-quiz, write/record themselves in the context where they use it, identify strengths and weaknesses, study the form, do some exercises, then during the week use it as much as possible in conversations/writing, and listen for it in other people’s conversations or in their reading, then at the end of the week or month, write/record themselves again, and do a final assessment, either self or externally.

Applying that to jiu jitsu, my hope is to record myself (evidence) at the beginning and end, do some kind of self-assessment before and after – this could be through analysis or even anecdotal – how confident I feel, watching Blue Belt Requirements and reading Jiu Jitsu University, doing some drills and positional sparring after class, attempting to use it during sparring, and to watch people in class or online and see what they do in those situations.

We plan to break this up over one year’s time. Essentially a month (or more) spent on one fundamental, such as escape from side control. This gives some genuine time for employing techniques, drilling, focusing, and for some improvement.

By taking a year, we will have enough time to create strong fundamentals that become secondary and more automated.

This is the part Megan and I are still working out – how to post about this in an interesting way, but also to divide the work. We will not be posting nearly-identical content, but trying to do this in a really cool cross-over way. For example, I watch Buffy and Angel, and there were some Buffy episodes where Willow disappeared and showed up on Angel, then later referred to it. People who watched both shows enjoyed and appreciated the two series more – people who didn’t still had some general understanding. So – blogger crossover!

Ah Willow, you were such a freakin badass.

We’re also working out which aspects to share and how often. For example, I have no intention of making this blog highly technical where I share exactly which drills I did. Yuk – boring! But we may make use of Jiu Jitsu Forums, and our thought process, things we learned along the way, etc. We do plan to have weekly chats about what we’re doing so that we can help keep one another accountable. So this part is still in the works.

My hope is that we can invite people along on this journey! For example, in the 20-in-20 series, it’s been so helpful knowing that other people are following along, looking for some help/guidelines. Overall what I’ve seen is a lot of blue belts and white belts who are looking to improve their jiu jitsu in a more systematic/fundamental way and are lost on how to do that. This could get them started along the journey. Additionally, any advanced jiu jitsu folks can help give feedback, that could be useful as well!

What do you think? Is this something you might be interested in doing with us? If you have some experience with this, can you give some feedback on what I’ve put forth? There are aspects that will not change: our materials and our timeline, but there are other aspects that we are open to getting some feedback about.