Advice for slow learners

This section is a work in progress, consisting mostly of cut-and-pastes from my contributions to discussion forums.

I am a very slow learner, and a couple of things that have helped me:

As soon as I get home from class, I write down what we did- including all the details of the Technique(s) of the Day. Note what worked and what didn't work.

Take a few minutes before or after class to grab somebody and ask, "Hey, would you mind whipping out a few reps of _____ with me?" Drill yesterday's technique, or something else that you've been working on. Then make sure you ask the other guy what s/he'd like to do, and let hir get some reps in. Even five minutes before each class can make a difference.

Pick an upper belt, or someone else who appears to know hir way around what you're working on, and ask hir if s/he would mind spending a few minutes before class or during open mat going over it with you and fine-tuning your technique. When something is just not seeming to work, I really need someone to help me figure out *WHY*, rather than just beating my head against a wall. Many classmates are nice about helping if you ask- make sure to thank them sincerely. Have a few different people to go to so that you're not driving one person nuts with all your questions.

Do the techniques on one side only until you have it solid. One of my profs is really insistant that we do everything on both sides, alternating reps, and I can see that.... but if I can't do it correctly on my *good* side, trying to fumble through every other rep on my stupid side is a waste of my time. Often, it'll be the fourth class on that particular technique before I start working the stupid side.

That said, *do* attempt the stupid side when you're ready- surprisingly, sometimes your stupid side turns out to be your better side for certain things.

Try to get a good drilling partner for class. The Ideal Drilling Partner will give you feedback- in the form of, "Your left hand feels a little too low to get that choke really tight" or "OOoo, that last rep where you turned your foot out more really messed with my balance and made it harder for me to fight the sweep". You do the same for your partner. Note that this is not necessarily instruction- it's feedback. Neither of you are the teacher, but even a first-day white belt can answer "Does it feel tighter when I turn this way or that way?"

I used to feel like I had to master the Technique(s) Of the Day as they came, and if I didn't, I was a failure. Well, if I go to class four days a week, that's going to be 9-12 techniques, and that is just too much for my little brain to absorb within seven days, so I learned to put less pressure on myself. All those techniques are going to come around in the curriculum again. And again. And again. They ain't going anywhere, and neither am I. Often, it'll be the third or 4th time I see a certain technique in class that it finally clicks. By that time, I've seen it enough that I can get all the niggly details- and every time I see it again, I pick up new details that I missed before.

I do as many classes as I can, especially "reruns". That means, if I know we're going to cover XYZ technique on Monday and Wednesday mornings, I try to make both. Whatever zoomed over my head on Monday, hopefully I can catch up with on Wednesday.

I severely limit advanced level classes. If there's an advanced class and a basics class at the same time, often I will take basics (even if it's just me and a sea of white belts). I'd just rather be really, really solid with basics as opposed to having shaky basics along with a random handful of flashy complex techniques that I can only remember seven of the twelve steps for..

It's fine to just drill and not roll sometimes. I mean, you can't do that forever, but I did almost no live rolling my first six months. I just didn't feel like I knew what I was doing or had any tools to do it with. So I focused on drills, and some positional training at reduced intensity. When I find myself getting really frustrated with my performance at live rolling, I think, "OK, I need to just take a break from this and focus on drills for a while."

I accept that there are people around me who are shown a technique once and then they're doing it perfectly on everybody, left and right, in live rolling. I accept that I am not one of those people. There are also people around me who can bench press five times what I can, and run ten laps in the time it takes me to do one. It's difficult to not compare oneself to those people, and conclude that you suck and should just give up. That's kind of a daily challenge. "Just keep walking in the door," I keep telling myself.

A lot of people get frustrated because they're not subbing others. It seems that those of us who are smaller, not quite as athletic, and/or and not quite as quick to memorize technique end up having to focus on mere survival (ie, escapes and defending) for a long time. I still get very few subs, myself. It's been very frustrating. But I am getting to the point now where my escapes and defenses are getting really good. The time to add subs to my game in a significant way will come, but it's just not here yet.

"The teacher shows a technique, and when it's time to drill, my mind goes blank!"

You will have to figure out a mnemonic method that works for you.

I watch the technique and translate it into steps, each step signified by a word or short phrase- which I chant to myself under my breath with each rep. Sometimes it seems to help my drill partner, too, especially if s/he is a white belt. I drill the technique first, with the narrative; then if s/he struggles when it's hir turn, I can prompt hir with the same steps.

One- right foot on hip.
Two- sit
Three- swing left foot out
Four- replace guard

After about 3 reps, this gets briefed to:

"One, right foot. Two, sit. Three, swing. Four, guard."

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