The other day in class I witnessed something that I would like to share with you. Two white belt (beginner) students were practicing a technique, designed to help a student escape when someone is on top of them. The student on the bottom was struggling, and giving their best effort, but didn’t seem to be able to make the technique work. This was one of those challenging times for me as an instructor, where I did not know what to say. Of course, I first looked for any technical errors in the execution of the move, but the student appeared to be setting everything up correctly. For some reason, it just wasn’t working. I gave the student a few general tips and words of encouragement, but she was still stuck in that position.
Anyone who has trained in jiu-jitsu knows how hard it is to be stuck in the mounted position. Oftentimes, this is due to the fact that if one’s training partner is skilled enough to achieve the mounted position, they are usually skilled enough to hold it very effectively. Therefore, I had a pretty good idea of what the student was feeling, but I didn’t know what else to do other than to think, “I feel your pain,” and tell them to keep practicing. However, at this point the student on top told the student on the bottom to make a minor adjustment, and voila! The technique worked.
There are a few points I’d like to make regarding this exchange.
1.) I was very impressed with the knowledge of the student (a white belt) to be able to tell the student on the bottom what they needed to do to make the technique work.
2.) I was equally impressed with his ability to explain it in a non-condescending manner. Both students felt better about themselves after the class, not worse.
3.) Sometimes when determining why a move isn’t working or what needs to be done differently, it helps to be the “uke,” or the partner that is actually having the move done to them.
This occurrence reminds me of why the martial arts are such a wonderful individual, as well as team activity. Few other experiences can help us to learn the value and ability of teamwork. In this class, both students were winners! I feel that these white belts already understand the true spirit of the martial arts as we study them.