Troubleshooting as a white belt

skribs

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I'm a white belt. And surprise, surprise, most of my techniques fail. One of the difficulties I'm having is that when a technique fails in BJJ, you often don't even get a rep at it. Compare this to when a technique failed in Taekwondo, I at least got a rep, and it was easy to see why my kick missed. Part of the problem in troubleshooting what failed is that there are a ton of possibilities for why it failed.
  • Did I use the wrong technique for the situation? If so, what technique should I have used, or how could I have changed the situation?
  • Did I do the technique incorrectly? If so, which detail(s) would have fixed it?
  • Was I just too slow and need more reps instead of troubleshooting?
  • Did I make the right calls and execute at my level, but because my opponent is stronger, faster, or better than me, I need to get better before I can make it work on them? (For example, one of my training partners is 80 pounds heavier than me, another is significantly stronger than me, or if I'm matched with a blue or purple belt who are obviously way better than me).
It's very difficult for me to to figure out which of the above diagnoses is correct, and what is the right course of action to fix the problem. Again comparing it to my Taekwondo experience, if I miss a kick and my opponent hits me, then we're both still standing and I can try to kick again. If I miss a sweep in BJJ, and my opponent passes my guard, then we're in a different position and I can't really try again until the next time I get them in my guard.

What method should I use to figure out what I'm doing wrong when I roll? Right now my approach has been "just show up, have fun, roll, and try and do a little better each time", and I am doing that. But if possible, I'd like to be able to better assess my mistakes and be able to actively fix them.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Excellent question. There are a few ways you can approach this and I recommend trying all of them.

  • Talk to your partner. Especially if they are more experienced they may be able to offer insights as to why something didn't work on them.
  • Review all the details you know about a technique and then play back the video in your mind of the moment you attempted it. Can you spot any details that you left out or got wrong?
  • Ask your instructor
  • When you get to an appropriate pausing point in your roll (like after a tap or when you've reached a neutral position, ask your partner "hey, can we reset back to the position where I was trying that sweep? I'd like to figure out what I did wrong."
  • Instead of starting a roll from the knees (the dumbest idea ever to invade BJJ), ask your partner to start out in specific positions which will afford you more opportunities to attempt the techniques you are trying to refine.
  • Ask a friend to record video of you rolling so you can observe your technique from the outside.
In my classes I always set aside a few minutes for Q&A and troubleshooting at the end after rolling. That's the time for students to ask "hey, I went for that scissor sweep like you just taught us, but I got squashed and passed. What gives?" Because their sparring partner is still there and the events are still fresh in memory, we can usually recreate the scenario and figure out where things went wrong.
 

wab25

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If your school has any open mat time (some times you can show up a few minutes early or stay a little later, or maybe there is an open mat time....) you could get a partner and set up some drills. Pick a technique from a position that you have trouble with, and work that 5 times, resetting each time. Then let the other guy do it to you 5 times. You will get a bunch of feedback from the drill, as you see what parts need more emphasis, you may get feedback from your partner and don't forget to pay attention to what your partner does when he is drilling. You learn a lot about a technique and what it takes to make it work by having it done to you.

You are still comparing your bjj experience to your tkd experience.... If I, as a DZR guy, showed up to your tkd school as a white belt in tkd... how long would it take me to start hitting you in the head with a reverse roundhouse kick during sparring? You would shut it down every time I tried it. How would I know why I failed?
  • Did I use the wrong technique for the situation? If so, what technique should I have used, or how could I have changed the situation?
  • Did I do the technique incorrectly? If so, which detail(s) would have fixed it?
  • Was I just too slow and need more reps instead of troubleshooting?
  • Did I make the right calls and execute at my level, but because my opponent is stronger, faster, or better than me, I need to get better before I can make it work on them? (For example, one of my training partners is 80 pounds heavier than me, another is significantly stronger than me, or if I'm matched with a blue or purple belt who are obviously way better than me).
As a beginner in tkd, I would have the same questions.... Probably, my attempts at a reverse roundhouse to your head would fail for all of these reasons at different times.... sometimes (ok lets be real, most times) I will be guilty of at least 2 of these, if not all 4. What would you tell the new students in this situation in tkd?
 

dunc

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I'm a white belt. And surprise, surprise, most of my techniques fail. One of the difficulties I'm having is that when a technique fails in BJJ, you often don't even get a rep at it. Compare this to when a technique failed in Taekwondo, I at least got a rep, and it was easy to see why my kick missed. Part of the problem in troubleshooting what failed is that there are a ton of possibilities for why it failed.
  • Did I use the wrong technique for the situation? If so, what technique should I have used, or how could I have changed the situation?
  • Did I do the technique incorrectly? If so, which detail(s) would have fixed it?
  • Was I just too slow and need more reps instead of troubleshooting?
  • Did I make the right calls and execute at my level, but because my opponent is stronger, faster, or better than me, I need to get better before I can make it work on them? (For example, one of my training partners is 80 pounds heavier than me, another is significantly stronger than me, or if I'm matched with a blue or purple belt who are obviously way better than me).
It's very difficult for me to to figure out which of the above diagnoses is correct, and what is the right course of action to fix the problem. Again comparing it to my Taekwondo experience, if I miss a kick and my opponent hits me, then we're both still standing and I can try to kick again. If I miss a sweep in BJJ, and my opponent passes my guard, then we're in a different position and I can't really try again until the next time I get them in my guard.

What method should I use to figure out what I'm doing wrong when I roll? Right now my approach has been "just show up, have fun, roll, and try and do a little better each time", and I am doing that. But if possible, I'd like to be able to better assess my mistakes and be able to actively fix them.
I really feel more BJJ academies should embrace specific sparring
Honestly technique is developed so much more quickly / deeply during specific sparring than free sparring
 
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You are still comparing your bjj experience to your tkd experience....
What's wrong with that? TKD is half my life and the majority of my experience in learning martial arts. It's my entire frame of reference. Whenever I'm teaching anything (be it Taekwondo, or helping my customers in IT), I try and make things make sense to them. For example, if a doctor doesn't want to answer troubleshooting questions and wants me to "just fix it", then I explain to them if they were trying to diagnose a patient and the patient just said, "just make me healthy", it wouldn't really work.
If I, as a DZR guy, showed up to your tkd school as a white belt in tkd... how long would it take me to start hitting you in the head with a reverse roundhouse kick during sparring? You would shut it down every time I tried it. How would I know why I failed?
  • Did I use the wrong technique for the situation? If so, what technique should I have used, or how could I have changed the situation?
  • Did I do the technique incorrectly? If so, which detail(s) would have fixed it?
  • Was I just too slow and need more reps instead of troubleshooting?
  • Did I make the right calls and execute at my level, but because my opponent is stronger, faster, or better than me, I need to get better before I can make it work on them? (For example, one of my training partners is 80 pounds heavier than me, another is significantly stronger than me, or if I'm matched with a blue or purple belt who are obviously way better than me).
As a beginner in tkd, I would have the same questions.... Probably, my attempts at a reverse roundhouse to your head would fail for all of these reasons at different times.... sometimes (ok lets be real, most times) I will be guilty of at least 2 of these, if not all 4. What would you tell the new students in this situation in tkd?
Let's go through the process for a technique failing in TKD and a technique failing in BJJ.

TKD, I attempt a roundhouse kick.
  1. I chamber by bringing my knee up.
  2. I turn my hips towards my target.
  3. I snap the kick out. It misses the target.
  4. I drop my foot down and also get kicked in the ribs.
  5. I can try another kick.
BJJ, I attempt a flower sweep.
  1. I set the grips I think I need to control my opponent and prevent them from posting.
  2. I open my guard and kick my legs in the direction I think I'm supposed to kick them. My opponent doesn't move.
  3. My opponent passes my guard. I now need to work on side control defense instead of getting another crack at the sweep.
In the TKD attempt, it's often easy to narrow down why the kick failed. You may not get the exact reason, but you can at least see something. It's easy to tell if it failed because your opponent was too close or too far away. Let's say your opponent was too far away. Is that because they were able to slide back to dodge the kick, or were they just standing still and you completely whiffed?

In my attempt at sweeping my opponent, what was it that made me fail? It's much less clear.

In the TKD attempt, I can also try the same kick again, and often the second or third roundhouse will hit the opponent. In BJJ, even if my opponent doesn't pass my guard, trying the same sweep again will probably fail even harder, because my opponent is going to respond harder to it.
I really feel more BJJ academies should embrace specific sparring
Honestly technique is developed so much more quickly / deeply during specific sparring than free sparring
Typical class at my school is drill a pass, drill a sweep, do a pass/sweep round, do a live roll from the position of the pass/sweep, and then do a live roll from the feet. Complete newcomers will usually stick with just pass/sweep the entire class.

I think it's a pretty good balance, but it still makes it difficult when live rolling to troubleshoot. Sometimes all I get out of it is "I'm not good enough at X", but with no clear indication on how to fix X. Kind of like the Check Engine light in my car.
 

wab25

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What's wrong with that? TKD is half my life and the majority of my experience in learning martial arts. It's my entire frame of reference.
I never said that there was anything wrong with that. I was trying to show a similar situation, where you would be at the other end, not the new guy.

In the TKD attempt, it's often easy to narrow down why the kick failed.
It may be easy for you... but to people with no experience in striking arts... sometimes its not so easy for them. Often, they are doing so many things wrong at the same time... Fixing any 3 of them, wouldn't help the technique land, as so much else is wrong.

In the TKD attempt, I can also try the same kick again
If you don't correct the issues, I would not expect a different result. Sure, I can rep it again... but I would be reping the faults of my technique.

often the second or third roundhouse will hit the opponent.
From a 3rd or 4th degree black belt in tkd, sure... you would figure it out pretty quick. But, the new guy in class will not be hitting reverse roundhouse kicks to the head anytime soon in sparring. Sure, he can get the front snap in...

In BJJ, even if my opponent doesn't pass my guard, trying the same sweep again will probably fail even harder, because my opponent is going to respond harder to it.
Which is why I suggested setting up drills for your technique, from the position you want to work.

Complete newcomers will usually stick with just pass/sweep the entire class.
Maybe just stick with pass/sweep and reset for the entire class for a while.... especially when they go over a pass or sweep that you want to work or need to work....
 

Tony Dismukes

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I can try another kick.

My opponent passes my guard. I now need to work on side control defense instead of getting another crack at the sweep
This is why I think specific scenario sparring is so useful in BJJ. In striking arts you have a limited number of techniques and you can try them over and over again in a sparring match. In BJJ it's possible to have multiple sparring sessions in a row where you never even have the chance to attempt a specific technique that you want to work on. That's why I like to give my students scenarios where they have a chance to get more attempts at executing the moves we are working on under pressure.

For example, last week I was showing some tips on how to finish the triangle choke from guard. When it came time for rolling, I had the students start in a triangle setup position (top person already has one arm and their head inside their partners legs, bottom person has their ankles crossed but doesn't have the figure four locked yet). Goal was for the bottom person to get a submission, sweep, or stand up while top person had to escape back to a neutral position or pass. Everybody got a lot of reps trying to finish and trying to escape the triangle and thus had opportunities to troubleshoot what they were doing wrong.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Excellent question. There are a few ways you can approach this and I recommend trying all of them.

  • Talk to your partner. Especially if they are more experienced they may be able to offer insights as to why something didn't work on them.
  • Review all the details you know about a technique and then play back the video in your mind of the moment you attempted it. Can you spot any details that you left out or got wrong?
  • Ask your instructor
  • When you get to an appropriate pausing point in your roll (like after a tap or when you've reached a neutral position, ask your partner "hey, can we reset back to the position where I was trying that sweep? I'd like to figure out what I did wrong."
  • Instead of starting a roll from the knees (the dumbest idea ever to invade BJJ), ask your partner to start out in specific positions which will afford you more opportunities to attempt the techniques you are trying to refine.
  • Ask a friend to record video of you rolling so you can observe your technique from the outside.
In my classes I always set aside a few minutes for Q&A and troubleshooting at the end after rolling. That's the time for students to ask "hey, I went for that scissor sweep like you just taught us, but I got squashed and passed. What gives?" Because their sparring partner is still there and the events are still fresh in memory, we can usually recreate the scenario and figure out where things went wrong.
I forgot one item on the list.

Instead of worrying too much about why the specific technique (sweep, submission, pass, whatever) didn't work, focus on the smaller elements. Ask yourself - did I compromise my opponent's structure before I attempted the technique? Did I compromise my own structure in the process of attempting the technique? Do I even understand what the correct triggers are which should lead to me attempting that particular technique?
 

Tony Dismukes

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If you don't correct the issues, I would not expect a different result. Sure, I can rep it again... but I would be reping the faults of my technique.
I have a different perspective on that. Each attempt at a technique is an experiment that helps gather data. If I throw 100 kicks in a sparring session, they might possibly all fail. But it's highly unlikely that they are all exactly equally wrong in exactly the same way. Some will fail one way, others will fail in another. Some will come close to landing, some will be wildly off the mark. Some might land, but without power. Some might leave me off-balance, while others might leave me in good position for a follow up. That's all useful experience that my brain will be processing even if my conscious mind hasn't yet figured out how to understand it analytically.

As I mentioned in a previous comment, this is one training advantage for striking. It's easy to go into a boxing sparring session, throw 100 jabs, and start to discover patterns regarding what makes the jab work or not work. But I don't think I've ever been in a sparring session where I had the opportunity to attempt 100 triangle chokes - even during training sessions where we did nothing but spar for a solid hour.
 

wab25

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I have a different perspective on that. Each attempt at a technique is an experiment that helps gather data.
I don't think we are actually too far apart. We are both suggesting setting up drills, to get repetitions of the techniques.

The point I was trying to make with tkd, is that the beginner may get lots of reps in sparring, and gather lots of data... but he does not yet have the knowledge or experience to do much with that data. If I miss my strike, because I can't reach the other guy... in a 100 attempts, I may find that lunging and reaching helps me get closer and perhaps tag him a few times. The problem is that I am sacrificing structure, balance, power, mobility, defense and any number of things... because I don't know any better. The better striking instructors I have had, limit what techniques I can use at first, so that he can develop stance, movement, timing, defense... This is the same as you suggesting:
Ask yourself - did I compromise my opponent's structure before I attempted the technique? Did I compromise my own structure in the process of attempting the technique? Do I even understand what the correct triggers are which should lead to me attempting that particular technique?

The advantage for striking is that I can put in 100 reps, before someone lets me know what I am doing wrong. The disadvantage of grappling arts is that I only get one shot at it. But, by setting up drills... I don't need to put in a 100 reps of doing it wrong, before I start to fix it.

When I miss my reverse round house kick to the head... likely, I did not set it up right, was not in the right place, telegraphed my chamber, chambered wrong, timed it wrong.... A good instructor, methodically goes through these... giving me little wins along the way. Over time I, get to landing the reverse round house to the head... and I get the experience to process the raw data. Same thing goes for grappling... compromise my opponents structure, keep my structure, know the triggers, get the set up...
 
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I don't think we are actually too far apart. We are both suggesting setting up drills, to get repetitions of the techniques.

The point I was trying to make with tkd, is that the beginner may get lots of reps in sparring, and gather lots of data... but he does not yet have the knowledge or experience to do much with that data. If I miss my strike, because I can't reach the other guy... in a 100 attempts, I may find that lunging and reaching helps me get closer and perhaps tag him a few times. The problem is that I am sacrificing structure, balance, power, mobility, defense and any number of things... because I don't know any better. The better striking instructors I have had, limit what techniques I can use at first, so that he can develop stance, movement, timing, defense... This is the same as you suggesting:


The advantage for striking is that I can put in 100 reps, before someone lets me know what I am doing wrong. The disadvantage of grappling arts is that I only get one shot at it. But, by setting up drills... I don't need to put in a 100 reps of doing it wrong, before I start to fix it.

When I miss my reverse round house kick to the head... likely, I did not set it up right, was not in the right place, telegraphed my chamber, chambered wrong, timed it wrong.... A good instructor, methodically goes through these... giving me little wins along the way. Over time I, get to landing the reverse round house to the head... and I get the experience to process the raw data. Same thing goes for grappling... compromise my opponents structure, keep my structure, know the triggers, get the set up...
A striking coach can stop after 1 rep or 10 reps to fix a problem in the same way a grappling coach can. They typically don't and let you get more reps in, because often those repetitions will help fix the problem without requiring active intervention. Too far or too close is easy to adjust to, because you have a frame of reference for where it failed. I need to be closer or I need more space. The question then becomes "how do I close that distance" or "how do I keep them from making that distance" instead of "why didn't it work".

Similarly, if you try a reverse roundhouse to the head and you hit the body, it's most likely clear why you didn't hit the head. Your foot wasn't high enough. Instead of "why didn't I hit the head", the question becomes, "how can I kick higher?" I also don't expect a beginner to try a reverse roundhouse kick to the head in the first place.

Striking also takes "need more reps" mostly out of the equation, because you are getting the reps. The very nature of striking sparring by itself removes one of the bullet points in the OP. Especially because in most schools you've probably done hundreds, if not thousands of roundhouse kicks by the time you start sparring. Compared with BJJ, where I've probably got tens, maybe low hundreds of drills on any one technique so far in 4+ months.
 

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I also don't expect a beginner to try a reverse roundhouse kick to the head in the first place.
Which is why I used the example of reverse roundhouse kick to the head. You have beginners work on more basic and fundamental things. Stance, movement, distancing, basic kicks, defense.... You work them up to being able to throw the reverse roundhouse to the head in sparring. If I am a beginner, and can barely throw a front snap kick, and still break my structure and lose balance every time... how many times is the instructor going to let me attempt a reverse roundhouse kick while sparring? The good ones will ask you to focus on the front snap kick, so you can work on all the other parts while developing your skills. Later, the reverse roundhouse kick will come.

Spend your time on the little pieces first. The ones Tony mentioned. Don't worry about whether the sweep happened or the submission happened. Just work on the little pieces. When you get the little pieces right... the moves will happen.

A striking coach can stop after 1 rep or 10 reps to fix a problem in the same way a grappling coach can. They typically don't and let you get more reps in, because often those repetitions will help fix the problem without requiring active intervention.
The good ones get the right balance. They let you go to figure it out on your own... but they also try to keep you from developing bad habits that will be harder to break later. Many times though, even with all the reps... it still helps to break it down into a drill, to get the right movement and timing... and then go back to sparring.

Typical class at my school is drill a pass, drill a sweep, do a pass/sweep round, do a live roll from the position of the pass/sweep, and then do a live roll from the feet. Complete newcomers will usually stick with just pass/sweep the entire class.
This is the perfect set up. During the pass/sweep round, ask your partner to reset to the pass or sweep you just learned... so you can continue the drill. Then keep doing that through the live roll portion. When you get to the stand up part, go from stand up straight into the position your sweep/pass was from and continue. This is how you get reps in. This is how you focus on detail. Then, when you ask your instructor how to do it better... he will know what to say as he just watched you do it all night. And, he will want to share it with you, as you are putting in the time to learn the art, and master the technique not just pound the other guys...
 
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Which is why I used the example of reverse roundhouse kick to the head. You have beginners work on more basic and fundamental things. Stance, movement, distancing, basic kicks, defense.... You work them up to being able to throw the reverse roundhouse to the head in sparring. If I am a beginner, and can barely throw a front snap kick, and still break my structure and lose balance every time... how many times is the instructor going to let me attempt a reverse roundhouse kick while sparring? The good ones will ask you to focus on the front snap kick, so you can work on all the other parts while developing your skills. Later, the reverse roundhouse kick will come.
How is this relevant to the discussion of how to troubleshoot techniques I'm using in class? The techniques I'm using are beginner techniques.

This is the perfect set up. During the pass/sweep round, ask your partner to reset to the pass or sweep you just learned... so you can continue the drill.
You say this like it's advice, but that's literally the game. This would be like saying "during bag work, hit the bag."
Then keep doing that through the live roll portion. When you get to the stand up part, go from stand up straight into the position your sweep/pass was from and continue.
Did you miss the part where I'm a white belt? I don't have the control to always get into the position I want to be in. Even if I do get into position, my opponent might not be acting in a way where I can even attempt the sweep. Even if I do, I've usually got one attempt before he's past my guard, and it's a struggle to get back to that.

I'm sure that if @Tony Dismukes were rolling with me, he'd have at least a dozen times in a 5-minute round with which to rep the exact same sweep on me, because he has the skills in order to do get me into that position, either from pulling guard or recovering position when he allows me to get into a pin position. Half of my rounds I never even have my opponent in closed guard.
 

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How is this relevant to the discussion of how to troubleshoot techniques I'm using in class? The techniques I'm using are beginner techniques.


You say this like it's advice, but that's literally the game. This would be like saying "during bag work, hit the bag."

Did you miss the part where I'm a white belt? I don't have the control to always get into the position I want to be in. Even if I do get into position, my opponent might not be acting in a way where I can even attempt the sweep. Even if I do, I've usually got one attempt before he's past my guard, and it's a struggle to get back to that.

I'm sure that if @Tony Dismukes were rolling with me, he'd have at least a dozen times in a 5-minute round with which to rep the exact same sweep on me, because he has the skills in order to do get me into that position, either from pulling guard or recovering position when he allows me to get into a pin position. Half of my rounds I never even have my opponent in closed guard.
FWIW my teacher advises beginners to first work on closed guard
Because youll probably be on bottom and its a pretty easy position to hold
So probably as a white belt when youre rolling really try to get your opponent into closed guard (grab an arm and pull as you sit back is a good place to start). At first itll suck, but after a while youll be getting there, buy maybe not being able to cross your legs, then after more time youll be able to establish the guard, but get passed easily, and so on
Its a painfully frustrating progression, but if you work on small gains towards a particular personal goal, then over time youll see amazing progress
 

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How is this relevant to the discussion of how to troubleshoot techniques I'm using in class? The techniques I'm using are beginner techniques.
The beginner techniques are made up of even more basic pieces. Until you get your stance right, your chamber right, your hands in the right position... your kick is not going to work out too well. Additionally, you have to create the opening for the kick, and get it past their guard. In focusing on landing the kick to the head so much, you are neglecting to focus on all those other bits. At this point, don't gauge your success or progress based on if you sweep, pass or submit the guy. Gauge your success and progress on whether you kept your own structure longer than you did last time, were you able to effect his structure, did you identify the right time where you should have moved, did you get your grips right...

You say this like it's advice, but that's literally the game. This would be like saying "during bag work, hit the bag."
When taking a striking art... I would watch the instructor work on a combination, with the entire class for the first part of class. Then we get to sparring. There were two types of students. The first type spend most of the sparring rounds trying to use the combination that was working on that day. They would try to apply it and then set themselves up so that the other guy could try. Sure, they may mix some other stuff in, but the focus was on trying to use what was shown. The other type completely ignore the combination that they worked on earlier and went back to the things they always do, with the focus on winning the match. I am suggesting that you spend more time on the stuff shown in class and less time on trying to win.

Did you miss the part where I'm a white belt? I don't have the control to always get into the position I want to be in. Even if I do get into position, my opponent might not be acting in a way where I can even attempt the sweep. Even if I do, I've usually got one attempt before he's past my guard, and it's a struggle to get back to that.
"Hey, I would like to work on the combination from class... mind if we start there?"
"Hey, can we go back and restart... I am really trying to work on what the instructor showed today?"
"I would like to stick with the pass/sweep only bits today..."
"I would like to keep working on what was taught today, can we do a takedown, into that starting position so I can get a few more reps?"

I have always had good luck, asking people to run a few more reps during the live rolling part of class. If we start hitting the techniques as taught we often carry on a bit before resetting... But I have never had someone say "no" and then just tap me out relentlessly. They usually offer me feedback to help me get better at it.
 
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The beginner techniques are made up of even more basic pieces. Until you get your stance right, your chamber right, your hands in the right position... your kick is not going to work out too well. Additionally, you have to create the opening for the kick, and get it past their guard. In focusing on landing the kick to the head so much, you are neglecting to focus on all those other bits. At this point, don't gauge your success or progress based on if you sweep, pass or submit the guy. Gauge your success and progress on whether you kept your own structure longer than you did last time, were you able to effect his structure, did you identify the right time where you should have moved, did you get your grips right...
I'm going to briefly summarize my understanding of your points, because none of this makes sense:
  1. A roundhouse kick is an advanced technique, because to do a kick correctly requires you to be advanced.
  2. We're still comparing a spinning hook kick to the head to a basic sweep in BJJ.
  3. Beginners in BJJ should not even do techniques, we should just establish grips and...do stuff with them.
If #1 is true, then nobody would ever be able to use any technique in striking, because you can't use it until you're advanced, and if you're not advanced then you can't use it. I don't even think that is true, because a large portion of students are able to do a basic roundhouse kick with very limited experience. They may not be able to land the kick on a black belt who's actively trying to not get hit, but they can land the kick against similarly skilled opponent's.

I still don't know why you're talking about kicking the head with an advanced kick when comparing it to a white belt struggling with white belt techniques. This is not a kick we typically teach to white belts. The head is not a target afforded to white belts. I do agree with you that you would struggle to be a white belt in a Taekwondo class, because you have a lot of assumptions on how Taekwondo works that just don't exist in reality.

To that notion, these are techniques we were taught in class. Am I supposed to not do the techniques we worked on? This is confusing, because later on you say that we should, and even give advice on how I can practice those techniques. Going back to your earlier point, how can you even work on those basics in striking sparring if all of the techniques are too advanced for white belts to even do? Do you just chamber your roundhouse kick?

When taking a striking art... I would watch the instructor work on a combination, with the entire class for the first part of class. Then we get to sparring. There were two types of students. The first type spend most of the sparring rounds trying to use the combination that was working on that day. They would try to apply it and then set themselves up so that the other guy could try. Sure, they may mix some other stuff in, but the focus was on trying to use what was shown. The other type completely ignore the combination that they worked on earlier and went back to the things they always do, with the focus on winning the match. I am suggesting that you spend more time on the stuff shown in class and less time on trying to win.
To recap:
  • You said that when we do pass/sweep, I should try the sweep, and if I get it or if they pass, I should reset.
  • I said that you are literally describing what pass/sweep is.
  • Then, the above quote.
That doesn't change the fact that you were literally describing the game of pass/sweep. I don't know that there is an equivalent in striking. We're always in the same position, and we generally both have the same goal: hit the other guy without getting hit. In grappling, it's asymmetric. One person has the goal of advancing position, the other of recovering or switching position.

If I were to sweep my opponent and keep going, my professor would tell me to reset. If my opponent passes and keeps going, my professor tells us to reset. There is nobody going past the pass/sweep during that game, because it is not the game. What you did is basically tell me that I need to follow the rules of the game, which I am already doing. It served no purpose.

Going back to your point about sparring, live roll is a different issue. In TKD, you're always standing, so you can always practice a kick. In BJJ, when I'm standing, I can't sweep. I can pull guard. Sometimes I get into guard, sometimes I don't. If I get into guard and my opponent passes me, then I can try and recover. Sometimes I recover back to guard. Sometimes I get into a different position, like half guard or open guard, where I'm not in the same position to try the sweep the same way from closed guard. Or I can't recover position and spend the next minute or so defending against submissions.

Or my opponent lands a take-down on me, and maybe I get into guard, maybe I only manage half-guard. Half the time I'm already in side control or mount, or maybe turtle. And I'm defending their attacks instead of working on the sweep. Or maybe they pull guard, in which case I'm put into the top position, and would have to give up position in order to practice the sweep.
 

wab25

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To that notion, these are techniques we were taught in class. Am I supposed to not do the techniques we worked on?
You seem to be working off the assumption that the beginner techniques are beginner techniques because they are easy. They are beginner techniques, because they teach the fundamentals of the art. Of course you are supposed to work on the technique you were shown in class. But, you should gauge your progress against the small things. Improve all those small bits, then find more small bits to work on. If you get enough of the small bits, the technique will happen. You will also get very good at the small bits.... and you will be able to reuse these small bits later, in different ways, to get different techniques done. Do the techniques shown in class, but don't worry that you did not succeed in making the technique work. Find the small, incremental things to work on and improve.

If I were to sweep my opponent and keep going, my professor would tell me to reset. If my opponent passes and keeps going, my professor tells us to reset. There is nobody going past the pass/sweep during that game, because it is not the game. What you did is basically tell me that I need to follow the rules of the game, which I am already doing. It served no purpose.
Hmmm....
Typical class at my school is drill a pass, drill a sweep, do a pass/sweep round, do a live roll from the position of the pass/sweep, and then do a live roll from the feet. Complete newcomers will usually stick with just pass/sweep the entire class.
Drill a pass - drill the pass
Drill a sweep - drill the sweep
Do a pass/sweep - do the pass/sweep round, resetting as the professor wants
Do a live roll from the pass/sweep position - let your partner know that you want to continue just doing the pass/sweep and reset
Do a live roll from standing - let your partner know that you want to continue doing the pass/sweep and reset... start standing, get taken down into the start position, then trade. You even mentioned that folks are allowed to continue doing just the pass/sweep for all of these.... so do that to get your reps in.

I do agree with you that you would struggle to be a white belt in a Taekwondo class, because you have a lot of assumptions on how Taekwondo works that just don't exist in reality.
And you may have a few assumptions about how I train. When I started Shotokan, they offered to let me wear my black belt and train with the black belts... I insisted on wearing white and training with the white belts. During class, I do exactly as the sensei askes, to the best of my ability... and without questions. I assume that there is a reason he wants me to do this thing, this way, even if I can't see it yet. I show up to class and get on the floor 30 minutes before class... to practice my stances, walking forward and backward up and down the floor, doing nothing but stances (front stance down and back, back stance down and back, side stance down and back....)... sensei told the white belts that this would be good practice... so I did it, and continue to do it for the last 10-11 years, no matter what my rank is. I have found a lot of stuff to work on in my stances...

When sensei shows new combinations before sparring... I use those new combinations, exactly as he showed... even though the other guy can see it coming. I then give my partner the set up for the combination so that he can try it as well. This usually means that I get out pointed... as I spend most of the sparring time working on the thing sensei just showed... and while I might not be able to land it, I am able to get better at it, understand it more and perhaps later I am able to hit it...

I have a feeling that any instructor would like a student that does what he is asked. One who tries the things he teaches. And when it is suggested that we practice something before or after class... I do it. If this is not what TKD instructors like... let me know.
 

JowGaWolf

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I'm a white belt. And surprise, surprise, most of my techniques fail. One of the difficulties I'm having is that when a technique fails in BJJ, you often don't even get a rep at it. Compare this to when a technique failed in Taekwondo, I at least got a rep, and it was easy to see why my kick missed. Part of the problem in troubleshooting what failed is that there are a ton of possibilities for why it failed.
  • Did I use the wrong technique for the situation? If so, what technique should I have used, or how could I have changed the situation?
  • Did I do the technique incorrectly? If so, which detail(s) would have fixed it?
  • Was I just too slow and need more reps instead of troubleshooting?
  • Did I make the right calls and execute at my level, but because my opponent is stronger, faster, or better than me, I need to get better before I can make it work on them? (For example, one of my training partners is 80 pounds heavier than me, another is significantly stronger than me, or if I'm matched with a blue or purple belt who are obviously way better than me).
It's very difficult for me to to figure out which of the above diagnoses is correct, and what is the right course of action to fix the problem. Again comparing it to my Taekwondo experience, if I miss a kick and my opponent hits me, then we're both still standing and I can try to kick again. If I miss a sweep in BJJ, and my opponent passes my guard, then we're in a different position and I can't really try again until the next time I get them in my guard.

What method should I use to figure out what I'm doing wrong when I roll? Right now my approach has been "just show up, have fun, roll, and try and do a little better each time", and I am doing that. But if possible, I'd like to be able to better assess my mistakes and be able to actively fix them.
This happens in all martial arts once you start trying to use the intermediate techniques. The only difference is that in traditional MA people quickly abandon the technique after a few tries but in BJJ the students will work AR the technique until they get it.
 
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skribs

skribs

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You seem to be working off the assumption that the beginner techniques are beginner techniques because they are easy. They are beginner techniques, because they teach the fundamentals of the art.
Beginner techniques are usually high percentage techniques. This makes them both easier techniques and foundational techniques, and also generally more broadly applicable as well. You're giving me a "you think it's A, but it's not A, it's B", when in actuality it's A, B, and C.
And you may have a few assumptions about how I train. When I started Shotokan, they offered to let me wear my black belt and train with the black belts... I insisted on wearing white and training with the white belts. During class, I do exactly as the sensei askes, to the best of my ability... and without questions. I assume that there is a reason he wants me to do this thing, this way, even if I can't see it yet.
I'm assuming this based on how you've told me over and over again that I'm doing Taekwondo wrong, and now you're making more assumptions about how Taekwondo works. When you make these statements, you make them with such authority it sounds like you think you know what you're talking about, and somehow your experience in Karate and imagination of Taekwondo gives you a more accurate picture than my actual experience in Taekwondo.

So when my professor asks me to do a live roll, if I follow your advice of doing my own drills instead, is that not a deviation from "I do exactly as the sensei asks, to the best of my ability...and without questions"? Am I supposed to listen to him and do the live rolls, or am I supposed to do things the way you're telling me now?
 

Tony Dismukes

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Beginners in BJJ should not even do techniques, we should just establish grips and...do stuff with them.
I know this was a response to Wab25, but I'll try to clarify because I think he's trying to make the same point as I was in one of my earlier posts.

Absolutely, try to do your techniques, your sweeps, passes, submissions, escapes, etc. But when they don't work, don't fixate on "why couldn't I execute that?" Instead, think about your grips, your setups, your structure, etc and try to identify something you could have done better with those.

In addition, don't be in a rush to try those sweeps, passes, submissions, etc. Start by establishing your own structure, then getting your grips, then breaking your opponent's structure ... and then try your sweep, your submission, whatever. If you spend an entire round just fighting for grips and maintaining your structure without attempting a single sweep or pass, you will make more progress than if you spent the round trying to execute "techniques" without establishing structure and grips.
 
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