Let’s start off with a question. What are the components of an effective technique?
As you think about that question, focus on one word. It’s the one that makes all the difference. If we took it out, the number of possible techniques would increase by leaps and bounds. Including it though, allows us to focus all our attention on what works.
When it comes to evaluating techniques, all that matters is if it works or not. Is it effective? To answer that question, we must first bridge the gap between theory and application.
Training Acceleration Theory
We’ll start off with outlining the components of effective techniques:
- Entries - Moving the match into a situation where it’s possible to perform a technique.
- Initiation - Moving through the bulk of the steps required to increase the possibility of performing a technique.
- Execution - Smashing through resistance in order to successfully perform a technique.
If you notice, there’s a beginning, medium and end there. Often though, instruction focuses on the middle. To help you visualize that, I’m just going to make up some numbers. We’ll say that it generally rolls out to be about a 25/50/25 distribution. It’s almost like a wave that starts low rises high and then drops back down.
If you don’t see it that way right now, I’ll explain. Take a moment to think about a technique that you do. After that, ask yourself a question. How many different paths exist to get you to the situation where that technique can be performed? It’s countless, isn’t it?
It’s because it depends on when you decide to create that situation or when you recognize the possibility. So the start point can vary a lot and the path isn’t always a straight line.
On the other end of the scale is the execution, and that’s where your opponent’s reactions matter a great deal. No one is going to let you choke them unless you’re drilling. They’re going to focus on taking away the things you need to do what you want to do.
We can focus on all those reactions and prepare responses for dealing with them. Focusing in this area is the true dividing line between basic and advanced technique. It’s why Roger Gracie’s cross choke is so much more effective than anyone else’s..
The lesson here is that there exists three different areas of innovation for technique. You can improve the entries, the initiation and the execution.
The theory of training acceleration is really simple. It’s about making a decision to focus on depth over breadth. An example would be if you took one technique that you want to develop to a high level. You start off by drilling it how you learned it, and then you focus on the entries.
Find multiple paths into situations where the technique can be performed. Work them and streamline the process, and then focus on the execution. Figure out the common defenses. Figure out how they work and then work on obliterating them.
It’s not a complex idea at all. It’s just another way to think about learning technique.
The inspiration behind this thought process is based on some unrelated research I was doing. I once saw tape from a series of seminars that Nick Delpopolo did at Crazy 88. I studied them and I noticed a disconnect between the focus on grip fighting and the focus on throws.
When he taught grip fighting, he would really focus on it and briefly mention throw possibilities. Then when he taught throws, he would really focus on that and briefly mention grip fighting entries. I think that’s very common in technique instruction, but I wondered. What if it wasn’t?
For example, in the framework of judo instruction, what if this training acceleration theory was applied? Let’s say that one throw was taught, then the focus shifted to multiple entries to that throw, and after that recounters to your opponent’s common reactions were worked on.
Time would be a factor, but the lesson could be stretched out over time or it could be done in a long seminar.
One benefit is that that one technique would be reinforced over and over again, so there would be a high probability that the lesson would sink in. Also there would less chance of it becoming boring since small variables would be changing and relevancy would increase with the addition of multiple entries.