According to Australian black belt Lachlan Giles, students who take charge of their own Brazilian jiu-jitsu training tend to see the fastest improvements. On a recent podcast with host Steve Kwan, Giles explained that he has noticed a pattern where grapplers who get “good fast” typically have a high degree of autonomy in their learning.
As Giles stated in the podcast:
“Students who improve quickly tend to take charge of their own training. I think that’s so important more and it’s, it’s like possibly the most important thing about improving rapidly.”
He shared the example of training partners from years ago who would study footage of Marcelo Garcia and work extensively on new butterfly guard and open guard tactics. This was happening even as their gym coach was teaching a different game.
According to Giles, having a willing explorer’s mindset along with a dedicated training partner for troubleshooting issues are both key factors for rapid skill development in BJJ. However, he clarified that instructor guidance can provide helpful strategic tips and techniques to shortcut the learning process.
Ultimately Giles feels a blend of guided learning from coaches combined with self-directed study and live experimentation produces the best results.
The willingness to let students take partial ownership over their training is still controversial in some gyms.
As Giles stated, “I think a lot of people, a lot of coaches probably get a little scared about doing that. They don’t want to take away some of their power and give it to someone else.” But for both student development and gym culture, cultivating self-driven learning seems to be the way forward.
But an individual is not the be all and all, you can’t really progress without a good training partner:
“I think actually having a good training partner is his key for this as well, because probably most of these people that I’m thinking of as well, they usually had like one or two people that they would always work with, just like they’d just be sitting there workshopping with.”