If you are anything like me, you can quickly get overwhelmed learning the multitude of techniques and struggle to remember the minute details involved with jiu-jitsu. We all learn differently. Some people learn by watching and drilling, others by having the technique executed on them and others, okay me, learn best by a little bit of both along with writing everything down.
I have been taking notes for as long as I have been training jiu-jitsu, and I still have all of my notebooks. And yes, I use plan Jane spiral notebooks, although recently I’ve moved to a three-ring binder. I know that are many products out there for taking notes. I have never had the opportunity to review these, so I have no opinion. I know what works for me and I believe “if it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it.”
If you are new at jiu-jitsu or have trained for years, the information and details taught can be overwhelming and hard to keep straight. I strongly recommend to anyone, at any belt rank, if you are struggling to retain and recall techniques to start taking notes. I have found writing has helped me remember, even if I never re-read my notes. It is a way to keep the details from the various techniques straight.
I’m not sure how other people take notes, but this is what works for me. I use an outline, just like I learned in grade school when mapping out a research paper. It is the same technique I use to outline my books and in-depth blog posts. Here is an example of a recent class:
I don’t know the specific term for the outline technique I use, but I’ll call it an alphanumeric sentence outline. I start with the date, which class I’m taking and who taught it if it’s not the head instructor. At ‘A’ I site the general technique we are learning: Basically, the theme of the class. If there is a starting position we are working off of then I would list that under ‘A’ as ‘1’. Under ‘1’ I write out the specific details in sentence form. I repeat this for each technique learned for that theme. If there are multiple ‘themes,’ for example, often we will do positional sparring to drill the technique we learn. I would list this as a new ‘theme’ write out what I was successful at and where I struggled. This helps me focus on what I do well and where I need to improve.
I do this every time I take a class, regardless if it’s an instructional class or straight training rounds. If the class is a review of technique that I learned the previous day. I still take notes, noting any details I might have missed.
As you may wonder, how is it possible to take detail notes, outline form, and make them legible during a 60-minute class. It’s not. My final notes are written off other notes. I always have a small notepad I keep by the side of the mat so I can take rough notes and then when I get home I sit down and write them out in the formally.
This is what works for me. It might not work for you. Find what works for you and use it. I don’t care what rank you are. At some point, you just won’t be able to recall all of the information. If you are having any trouble either remembering techniques, struggling with a position or submission, or want to develop a specific game, I strongly encourage you to get a notebook and take notes. If that means dropping $15 on a jiu-jitsu notebook; do it. Or $7 on a fancy journal at Half Price Books; do it. Do what works for you. It’s your money and time you are putting into your journey, and it is no one’s responsibility to track what you are learning, expect you.