Jan 02

Training Acceleration: A Different Way to Think about the Learning Process

bright idea1 Training Acceleration: A Different Way to Think about the Learning Process

I just had a revelation, and I want to share it with you. Others have probably had it as well, but I want to outline it in a way that can be clearly understood and applied.

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.  You could probably guess which one it is, but I’ll tell just to make it clear.  It’s “effective” because for a technique to be effective it has to work against resistance.

Now often, in class, techniques are taught by demonstrating and explaining a specific set of steps in a specific situation.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but what if there was a better way to start bridging the gap between theory and application in the instruction?

Training Acceleration Theory

Alright, so let’s get into the meat of it. We’ll start off with outlining the components of an effective technique:

  • 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.

All those reactions and what your responses should be generally aren’t focused on. It’s understandable because there are so many possibilities. So often, you’ll have to fill in those gaps by yourself.

It’s absolutely essential that you do it too because the entry and the execution are the most important parts of effective technique.


With all that said, 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 Genesis

The inspiration behind this thought process is based on some unrelated research I was doing. I’m blessed enough to access to tape from a series of seminars that Nick Delpopolo did at Crazy 88. I was studying 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.


Let me know if you see the possibilities that could come from applying this theory. Also if you have a different idea, feel free to share it. It might help someone.


  1. Natan

    Excellent post, Kenneth.

    In my academy we focus on depth over breadth by something my instructor calls “300 in 30″. He will choose a different technique for each student. Let’s say you’re given a simple sit-over sweep. Over the course of 30 days you’re focused on hitting that sit-over sweep 300 times during sparring. And yes, we keep track on a white board (and everyone knows what everyone else is shooting for). You’re not limited in any way to just that technique, but the focus placed on the entry, initiation, and execution tends to hone things to a ridiculous degree, all things being relative. Break the magic 300, and get a one-hour private.

    291 bread-and-butter chokes to go…

    1. Kenneth Brown

      That’s a very innovative idea. I like it. It’s a goal with a deadline mixed with friendly competition. There’s even a prize as well.

      Hmm, I can definitely see how that could motivate action. More gyms should try stuff like that.

  2. The Ghost

    That is a great idea!

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