Mastery Series Vol3: Chunking, Retrieval Practice Interleaving

Hidden Jiu-Jitsu Mastery Series Volume 3: Chunking, Retrieval Practice, and Interleaving


I hope you’re really enjoying this mastery series and seeing the potential of applying learning strategies to your Jiu-Jitsu practice.


We’re starting with solo drills because everyone is on lockdown for COVID-19, and it’s likely the easiest way to get the hang of many of these things. 


But in the future we will be applying these strategies to any and all of your Hidden Jiu-Jitsu techniques. 


So far, we’ve covered two series of solo drills movements, as well as some deep learning strategies that will help you learn efficiently, and remember everything you learn. 


Today, we’re going to look at some movements that strengthen the legs, and help you to develop rock-solid base and posture as you move, starting in the guard and moving to the standing positions. 


By now, you’re familiar with our algorithm for how to learn, and how to review. 


So we will start with the new video today (and a review will be posted below for convenience). 



In case you need a refresher…


Here are the steps I would like you to take to get the most out of this:


  1. Watch the video one time, and one time only. Pause and take notes if you need to, or pause and practice what you've learned so far (remember, this is all about “deep attention”  and by forcing yourself to watch the video one time, making note of each significant detail piece by piece, you will make sure to get 100% of the knowledge transfer. If you’d like to read more about why this is so effective, check out the story of Dr. David Handel here.)
  2. After you’ve watched the video, and mapped out each specific detail, I want you to go through the series of drills slowly for a couple minutes, being very careful to get the details right as you go.Do not move any faster than you feel you’ve got the movement down perfectly.
    If you need to slow down to get it perfect, great. We should only ever go as fast as perfect form allows.
  3. Once you’ve gone through all the drills a couple times, (shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes), I want you to set a timer for 20 minutes from the time you’re done.
  4. After 20 minutes have passed since the end of round 1, review each of the drills again, and practice them in the sequence outlined in the video. Because this is a review, it should take less time than the first round, 5 mins or less.
  5. Once you’ve finished round 2, set a timer for 40 minutes.
  6. After 40 minutes has passed from the end of round 2, start round 3. Same deal. Flow through each of the movements being careful to get them right, according to each of the details you mapped out earlier.
  7. Once you’ve done all 3 rounds (this will happen over about an hour of time if you’ve done it right, with 20 and 40 minute intervals between each round), and reviewed days 1 and 2, then you’re done for day one.You can forget about Jiu-Jitsu for 24 hours before you hit your next practice session.


Remember to run through Day 1 and Day 2 after you practice today’s work, and remember to go through Day 1 and Day 2 without notes or review as much as you can (should be a breeze by now if you’ve done the work up ‘till now). 


Now, let’s talk a little more about the learning strategies embedded into this series so that you have a deeper understanding. 




Chunking is breaking large bodies of information down into small bodies of information, something like how enzymes break down food. 


We all do this naturally to some extent, but doing it systematically can have dramatic results for rapid and lifelong learning.


That’s why I’ve chunked groups of solo drills that go together into “blocks” of drills. 


This leg crusher series, for example, mixes 4 different solo drills to focus on posture and base as you move. 


Clickable links to reference pages here:


[Unit - 27 - Posture in Guard]

[Unit - 4 - Standing Up In Guard]

[Unit - 7 - Hip Lift]

[Unit - 5 - Leg Lunge with Base]


Done this way, these drills become one “block” of information that you can remember together. 


The obvious benefit of this is like the old saying about eating an elephant one bite at a time. 


But there’s more to the story, that is not obvious, that will multiply the effectiveness of chunking information. 


And that is called…




Traditionally, we’re taught things in sequences. 


This is especially evident with mathematics. 


You learn math in a certain sequence, and typically build on one block of information before moving onto something else. 


But interleaving has proven to be much more effective than sequential learning in many areas, both academic and athletic. 


Here’s an example: if you were interested in learning 3 new Jiu-Jitsu techniques...


Let’s call them A, B, and C. 


Instead of practicing in sequential reps like this: A A A A A, B B B B B, C C C C C…


You could mix it up like this: A, B, C, A, C, B, B, A, C, B, C, A, C, B, A, C, A, B. 


By switching back and forth and exploring all the different possibilities simultaneously, in all the different orders, your brain is able to abstract patterns common to the different movements and avoid “ruts”. 


This would be especially useful for moves that compliment each other, like the kimura, guillotine, hip bump sweep series covered in White to Blue. 


You can even use interleaving within the drills themselves, by switching the order of the side you start on. 


So in this leg crusher example, if you’re used to stepping forward for the lunge forward with the left foot one time, step forward with the right foot next time. 


Or if you’re used to starting from the same position I taught, beginning with posture in the guard and moving through the movements ending with the lunge forward... see if you can perform the movements in reverse order, starting with the lunge forward and ending with posture in guard. 


Or you could switch up the order in which the movements themselves are performed, literally doing them backwards, starting at the bottom of the lunge and moving to standing, and then moving to the top of the hip lift and moving backwards so it’s a hip drop. 


There’s no right answer, because the idea is to explore and play with as many possibilities as you can. 


That very effort itself will lead to mastery, curiosity, and “wisdom” with the movements faster than most would believe is possible. 


The more possibilities you explore, the deeper you will see into the hidden side of things. 


To illustrate just how powerful this can be... I think most people know about the success of Ronda Rousey with the arm bar.


She was so good at that one technique girls would train for months to try to stop it and still get caught.


She broke at least 2 girls arms in MMA with it.


Well, she used to visualize and play with all the different ways she could end up with her legs across the body and head with the arm in between from all these different positions.


Knowing where she was trying to end up and figuring out how to get there from where she was at.


This made her into an arm bar master.


In a couple of her fights she entered into the arm bar in a completely new entry she just made up / discovered on the spot.


From all the years of just figuring out how to get the arm bar from whatever position she was in at the moment, her brain and nervous system had abstracted the patterns so well she could improvise in the fight itself.


A, B, C, A, C, B, B, A, C, B, C, A, C, A, B, C, B, A...


One more thing


Interleaving is simply switching from one chunk of information to another to keep things fresh, engaging and challenging. 


However, you’ll notice above I listed a very systematic way of interleaving. 


This I learned from Opher Breyer, who is the creator of the Stages learning method. 


He is also the music coach Yaron Herman credits with turning Herman into a piano prodigy, who in the space of roughly 3 years went from never having touched a piano, to one of the most successful musicians in the world.


Here’s Opher’s method of interleaving: take a given chunk of information like A, B, C, and list all of the possibilities you can by changing one variable at a time. 


Not only can this listing itself be a good mental challenge (how many possibilities can you find?) but simply by exploring the different possibilities, your brain is getting the maximum possible exposure to absorb the information. 


Opher will start children with shapes and colors, and explore the different orders, directions and possibilities of creating and drawing the shapes and colors, changing the order of everything from how they appear left to right, top to bottom… to the order the lines are drawn in to create the shapes themselves. 


Then, he will have his students apply the exact same patterns of exploration to athletic movements and musical instruments. 


In this way, the brain learns to find and explore all of the possibilities within a given idea, or chunk of information, or pattern across ALL possible mediums and dimensions. 


This is interleaving, turbocharged. 


The more you are willing to explore the possibilities, and change the order, the deeper you will master each movement, and your ability to execute each movement in any scenario when you need it. 


You can see Opher Breyer give a TED Talk on this method, and his results (including a pretty amazing demo at the end) by clicking here


And, as always, retrieval practice, or the testing effect, is the foundation of skill. 


The stronger an effort you make to recall the information you’re learning, without peeking at your notes first, the quicker and more solid your mastery will be. 


So play with this today. 


Change the order of the drills. 


Or change the order of the blocks (ab crusher, rolling drills, leg crusher, ab crusher, leg crusher, rolling drills, rolling drills, leg crusher, ab crusher, etc.). 


Or do them once forwards, once backwards. 


Or do left, right, right left. 


Explore the possibilities, and let me know how it goes. 



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