My instructor has always encouraged all of his students to take notes. Take notes for Jiu-Jitsu? Say what? I’m here to roll and fuck shit up! I did not do well in school and my handwriting sucks. I would rather just forget most of the details of the move you are going to show and hope to remember the next move. I am here to have fun and taking notes does not sound like fun!

I would sometimes take notes. Mostly at seminars or if I was on travel to another gym but, I got all the way to being a successful competitive blue belt without taking consistent notes. Then something changed. I realized that my Jiu-Jitsu was not progressing as the way I wanted it to. Once I got to the cusp of blue to purple, just hoping a move or two would work on people was not enough. If you can remember moves, you will certainly beat a lot of people but if you don’t use all of the attributes available to you (some you don’t even know you have) you will never know how good you can really be. My favorite thing to do in Jiu-Jitsu is to outsmart who ever it might be I am rolling with. Could be my training partners, competition opponents, or even my instructor. My goal is to show you I know more than you in any given situation and I will beat you based on technical details. The step needed to move me in this direction (and I’m still learning) was taking notes.

Learning Jiu-Jitsu has always been likened to learning a new language and the key to learning a new language is vocabulary and practice. So you must collect words and practice. In Jiu-Jitsu those are your techniques and gym time. To truly master a language it takes more than just words, sentences, and paragraphs. You must also learn the culture. The culture defines tones of emotion and depths of expression, even body language, you will use in your conversation. Without these elements, you will not be able to partake in effective communication. In Jiu-Jitsu, this is the same as knowing the correct situation or time to use the proper techniques. The culture that surrounds a move are the problems you are going to face and the details to make the technique successful. You must learn the culture of the moves.

To address the importance of the problems associated with moves and techniques I created my own note taking system. Let’s have a look at how this works.

 

 SilverFox Feather Notes System

SilverFox Feather Notes System

 

Let’s go ahead and break these boxes down.

 


 What technique you are using goes here.

What technique you are using goes here.

The specific technique or set of moves to be worked will go here.


 “Position” remains unchanged

“Position” remains unchanged

  • “Position” never changes. It is a heading for the columns to the right.

  • “Position I’m in (Nage)” will change to the position you start in.

  • “Position of opponent (Uke)” will change to the position your opponent is starting in.


 These are static headings for the columns below.

These are static headings for the columns below.

These are static headings for the rows below that will follow.

  • Problem

    • What is the problem or resistance my opponent will employ to defend?

  • Solution

    • What is the solution I must use to get to the next step in my sequence of moves?

  • Details/Steps

    • What are the details I must pay attention to, to employ my solution?


 These are the rows that follow the Problem, Solutions, and Details/Steps headings

These are the rows that follow the Problem, Solutions, and Details/Steps headings

Here we list the steps for the Problems we will face, what our Solutions are, and the Details to make our Solutions work.


 Triangle finishing notes.

Triangle finishing notes.

This is an example of using my notes system on how to finish a triangle.


This note taking system allows me to create libraries of sequences that can be applied to many techniques and situations. When I recognize a technique or a set of moves I can just “plug-and-play” what I have already taken notes on. I NEVER take notes twice. I never have to worry about forgetting details because they are already captured and I can easily add details to already existing notes. Having it in digital format also makes it easily searchable and shareable as well.

Now I am NOT suggesting you question every step of every technique your instructor shows. In fact I think at some point you will begin to recognize on your own what the central problems are that you are facing. Quite possibly if you just listen close enough your instructor is already pointing out the problems you are going to face for you. This is just one way of taking notes. I encourage you to find your own system that works for you.

Just Don’t Stop.