Sep 07

Are You Consumed With the Question of Why

Are You Consumed With the Question of Why

I know I am.

I realized early that understanding why a technique works makes it easier to figure out how to make it work for me. So I became a conceptual learner.

Another factor in that choice of focus came as a result of a method that my coach, Mike Moses, used to use often when he taught. When he wanted to focus your attention on the concept of the technique, he would say if you take nothing else away from this class remember this.

It worked.

I would always remember the concept when he did that, and I noticed that once I had the concept down the method wasn’t that far behind. It was an incredible thing.

At some point, I can’t tell you when, I also realized that it made intuitive sense to split technique up into two separate components. Obviously, one of them had to be the concept, and then on the other side there was the movement.

The next logical step was to think about those two components in the larger framework of Jiu-jitsu as a whole. It made sense to believe that there was a one-to-many relationship between those two components and technique.

The reason is simple.

One concept can be applied to be many techniques. The same is true of movement. So these individual building blocks have a wider range of effect than individual techniques. Why not focus on them?

Of the two, concepts are easier to learn. That has been my experience. More than that though, the question of why is so interesting. Why does it work? Why are you using that grip? Why do you move that way?

There’s endless avenues of inquiry, and I recently pursued one myself.

I was in the advanced class at Evolve and Master Mike was teaching. He went over a series of attacks from the underhook half guard. One of the techniques was the knee tap. I’m familiar with that. I’ve been doing it since I was a white belt, but his setup was different from any of the ones I use.

I drilled it, and it didn’t feel right to me. So I started asking questions because I wanted to know why. That process helped me identify possible uses for the variations, and that’s far better than just discarding it.

That example illustrates why you will benefit if you explore why things work.

The next time that you’re in class, speak up and starting asking questions. If your goal is to improve, focus on understanding the concept behind things. Why does this work? Why do you grip there? What if I did this, what would happen? Ask away. Your instructor will probably love it and you will benefit.