When I went to my first seminar, I admit to being disappointed that it was triangles from closed guard. Early on, the instructor barked at me, “I said start from closed guard!!”
“Yes sir, thank you.” Immediately, I recognized there was some reason going all the way back to closed guard was relevant. The content did not get more complicated. But, anyone will tell you that a seminar with Dustin “Clean” Denes is a complete education. Well worth the time and money.
How can we make the most of drilling something we already “know”? There’s really no debate about drilling. Science has clearly documented that we learn from repetition. Taking the time to repeat to a high degree allows us to see things from several outlooks. There is a time to drill fast, but slow is usually best in the initial learning phases.
Recognize the starting point. Every movement has a cue, the moment when it is best to begin. Drilling is a great time to explore why this time is the best, and what can go wrong when the window is missed.
To further assess the study of timing, there are points of variable speed priority. Learn which points must be transversed quickly, and where it is possible to slow down. There are openings that must be closed off to stop escapes, counters, and stalling nuisances. Slowing down or speeding up at specific points can produce predictable reactions that lead into the next step.
Notice the key details. Every instructor has certain high priority details that make their techniques work. Taking the time to understand why they matter will help both that movement and overall progress in jiujitsu. Sometimes it’s a specific grip, movement, weight placement, angle, or element of timing. There is always something.
Put your time in.
Have you ever watched someone who’s movements seemed effortless? That’s because they are. When we do something repetitive, the mind and body work together to make it as easy on the body as possible. Dealing with pain from high repetition is an important factor in the long term. This helps us to understand good form in a new way. Posture, weight distribution, using certain muscle groups, and not gripping too hard all become considerations with long term repetition. While there is no substitute for time and deliberate effort, it can be fun. People joke, laugh, and tell stories while drilling. It depends on the specific purpose of that session, and the level of the technician.
Drill on your own time. Taking a few minutes at open mat to work on something specific frees us from the restraints of a formal class. There is no pressure to move on when the instructor says, and asking questions about alternative possibilities is acceptable. There is also something about drilling on our own that makes drilling in class better. Drilling itself is a skill that must be learned and sharpened. Keeping a good attitude and attention span is developed with practice just like everything else.
Now go drill!!!