Since most BJJ-practitioners are now quarantined and have to rely upon their own discipline, motivation and wit, we offer another analysis of how to embed Mr. Danaher’s concepts into kids’ classes.
Some months ago, I saw on the BJJ Fanatics Page the question raised whether Mr. Danaher also teaches children in a similar fashion as his Go Further Faster Series. Although that question was not directly answered (to my knowledge), it made my husband and me think: How could we make Mr. Danaher’s concepts accessible and applicable during BJJ Kids classes?
In a previous article we wrote about how we created the ‘Hipline-Balloon-Explode Game’. In this game, the kid playing bottom game has two balloons strapped to his belt and the kid that stands wants to pass the guard by exploding the balloons. This teaches, on the one hand, the kids to step their feet or knees on the hipline, a crucial step in passing anyone’s guard successfully. On the other hand it also teaches guard retention skills as the bottom player definitely does not want to have his/her balloons popped.
Increasing the analytical BJJ skills
In this article we wish to propose another learning method. This time it is about increasing a young student’s analytical skills by understanding offensive and defensive cycles. Mr. Danaher mentioned that many developing students do not sense yet when they should enter a defensive cycle and when they should enter or end with an offensive cycle after successfully finishing a defensive cycle. For instance, a student tries a cross collar choke (from bottom) and does not want to let go even though his/her opponent opened the guard and passed. Usually, he/she has no choice than to let go, eventually only to find him/herself in an undesirable situation. When, however, the student would have realised sooner that instead of trying to hold on a long forlorn choke he/she ought to have entered a defensive cycle, in this case guard retention, as soon as his/her opponent started passing, the student would have had better cards and the pass need not have been inevitable.
Mr. Danaher continues by explaining points of connection, usually grips with hands and feet, as well as some sort of hook with the leg/feet. The more points of connection a student has on another student, the bigger the chance that the sweep, pass, pin etc. will be effective and successful. In other words, knowing when to enter a defensive/offensive cycle strongly coincides with who has the most and better points of connection. This means that during a classic passing/guard retention battle, these points of connection can change swiftly.
Counting points of connection is a game
The game we play often with our kids is that we enter into a specific position, say, I have spider guard (4 points of connection) and my husband has two grips on my pants (two points of connection). We let the kids explain how many points of connection we have and who, in this situation, has the upper hand and why. Often they even surprise us with a follow up in which they share possible ways of neutralizing the current situation (this means that both have an equal amount of points of connection) or how we could improve our current situation if we find ourselves at a disadvantage.
After they analysed one situation we move on to the next. Say, my husband managed to get rid off my spider hooks and enters a shin/knee-slide pass. Again, the kids explain how many points of connection we have, who has the advantage and what the one who is at a disadvantage should do to either neutralise the situation or to drastically improve the situation. In this way, kids learn early on cues and signs when (at the latest) they should enter a defensive and/or offensive cycle. This we do for a few more situations and repeat is every now and then in class – you will be amazed!
We hope that this will provide other coaches with ideas to not only teach physical techniques and movements but to also train their young protégées to think analytically. Especially due to the Covid-19 imposed quarantine, this is something that can be easily done through videos / live-streams, thus resulting in an interactive learning experience.
Ps. Awesome anecdote: a mother told us about her daughter (8 years old) who loves to watch BJJ matches on YouTube. She was watching two ladies competing and could explain to her mother why the one trying to pass succeeded because she saw how she got more and better points of connection and that the bottom player was too late to enter an offence cycle!