The Value of Private Lessons

Yesterday I had a private lesson with my instructor John Lawrence. This is the 3rd or 4th private I’ve had with various instructors at the school where I train, Hurricane Jiu Jitsu, and each one of these lessons has led to epiphanies regarding my practice. I pretty much get tunnel vision when I’m rolling, so it’s hard for me to see what areas of my game I need to fix. I find it super helpful to have someone else guide me through my plateaus. In past privates I was fixated on developing my guard, both closed and open, so that I could feel more comfortable attempting submissions and knowing that I could recover back into guard from a failed submission attempt. I pretty much went into private lessons with the intention to sharpen my closed guard. This time around we did things a little differently. I still had specific questions about how to increase my attack percentage from closed guard, but my instructor suggested that we roll a bit at the beginning of the lesson so he could analyze how I moved and make suggestions from there.

We started the roll with him in my guard and I attempted to break down his posture so I could best control him, and then went for a collar choke. He postured out of that, and when he did I swept him and mounted, then went for the Americana. Since this roll was for analysis he let me work my game with very little resistance on his part, which gave me the chance to try to chain things together the best I knew how to do. When we finished he was able to break down how I did and from there had A LOT of suggestions to improve what I was doing.

One problem that I tend to have is that when someone is in my closed guard, I can generally keep them there for a bit pretty well, but if I go for a submission I often open up an opportunity for my partner to break out of guard, escape and pass. Because of this I tend to be really reserved in my attacks from guard, just out of the concern of getting passed in the process. John saw what I was doing while I was trying my game on him and offered many suggestions for continuing to control my partner while going for subs. He pointed out that at various times during our roll I overlooked a possible triangle, omoplata, collar choke and sweep, all that I could have done while trying to control him in my guard. In a sense, they were all moves that I knew about, but in the tunnel vision that I have during a roll I just didn’t see those opportunities. What I saw was the potential for him to pass my guard if I tried for a sub and missed, and what he saw was a myriad of potential attacks that I just was not confident enough to recognize.

And that is where the value of private lessons lie. Like most things in life you can put a lot of effort in, work hard, have the right attitude, but just be too close to a problem to see solutions. It is extremely helpful to ask someone who has been through all those same sticking points in their training to check out your game in a focused way and show you the things that you might be missing out on.

I haven’t been to class yet since the lesson yesterday, but I know from past experience that it will be a huge boost in my game. Every¬† time that I’ve taken a private lesson my game has jumped up after, and I fully expect the same to happen again this week.¬† I made sure to write down as much as I could remember when I got home (next time I’ll take video of the lesson), and I’ve been reviewing my notes, trying to download all that data into my brain. This week coming up I’m going to take one or two of those ideas and try to get as many attempts at making them work as I can.

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