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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

28 October 2016

28/10/2016 - Q & A Workshop | New Heterarchical Class

Class #777
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 28/10/2016

Artemis BJJ is approaching its third anniversary in a few months, meaning that the experience level of the students is rising. There are a few people who have been with me for more than two years, some almost three. I try to vary up the classes I teach, refining what I already do and challenging myself by adding in at least a few classes I haven't taught before each month. However, it's important to have something for those more experienced students who are interested in exploring different areas. To that end, I have several new classes in mind.

One will be starting next Wednesday taught by Paul (18:30-19:30, while I teach the women's class upstairs). That's currently got the title of 'advanced gi', but I might change that in future. Paul is interested in areas of BJJ I'm not, so can bring a new perspective which will help vary the stuff people learn at Artemis BJJ. That used to be something students got from Donal, and it's been missing since he moved to Wales over two years ago now. It's therefore awesome that they will now be able to get that 'fancy' part of BJJ (for want of a better word) from Paul, hopefully. ;)

The other class is going to be my version of an 'advanced' class. I've never been comfortable with that designation, because it feels exclusive. Also, I'm not sure what exactly distinguishes an 'advanced' technique from a 'basic' one (it's hard enough to define 'basic': my latest attempt is here). So instead of the technique being advanced, in my new Friday class (19:30-20:30, after the gi class) it's the format that is going to be more advanced. Most classes are taught in a hierarchical method: one person disseminates their information to a group, correcting and demonstrating. That's how I teach most of my classes too, as it's the easiest way to do it. I try never to be "this is the only way to do it, I am always right, do not question me," especially as I'm only a purple belt (so I still have lots to learn myself).

A video posted by Artemis BJJ (@artemisbjj) on

My background in teaching is from university, when I used to teach poetry to undergraduates (if you are very bored, here's a short paper I gave on the kind of stuff I was studying back then). In a university seminar, the structure isn't as hierarchical. You don't so much have a teacher as somebody to lead the discussion. My idea was for this new 'workshop' format at Artemis BJJ was that anybody could bring something up, which we'd then work through as a group. That worked exactly as I hoped tonight, with a couple of students playing around with de la Riva and inversion. Neither of those are games I play, so we had a discussion to get something we could drill, then tested that out in pairs.

The bit I could add for my training partner was a simple drill for practicing that spin through the shoulder blades, as she hadn't done that before. It was also handy for me to practice, as it's been ages since I've done that (especially as I've grown increasingly protective of my neck and back). It also reminded me we haven't done that spinning around the legs drill for a while in the warm-ups either.

I probably won't write these classes up too often, but I'll see how it goes. Depends if it becomes something where I get to practice stuff too that I want to make sure I remember. It could also be that it descends into an hour of open mat instead, but I'm hoping it's going to get to a stage where even if I'm not there, students work through some techniques as a group. :)

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