The Three R’s

Not Reading, wRiting and aRithmatic, but the cues I think of when coaching.


Jiu Jitsu students generally have a significantly different mindset from say wrestlers. Whereas wrestlers may be shown a technique and drill it thousands of times, Jiu Jistu students commonly have a mindset of, I’ve done it three times I now know that technique, what’s next?

That’s why I like to have the repetition, either within a class where we are building from a base position and repeating those steps to get to later techniques and positions, or across classes where there is a review of what we have done in a previous class to help embed the technique in long term memory and to help develop the muscle memory of the technique.


Again this is about helping to develop the long term memory, and also to help students realise the details in the technique that they had forgotten or skipped over. Typically when we are running a theme across multiple classes I will:

  • Ask if anyone remembers what we did last time, if not I’ll prompt them with the technique or theme;
  • Once someone recalls a technique, I’ll have them demonstrate it with a partner;
  • If they have hit all of the points, I’ll have them demonstrate it a second time
  • If there are any missing points I’ll either have them walk through it again and emphasise the missing points, pausing and discussing it at the appropriate time in the technique, or demonstrate the technique myself if there is something specific I want to show;
  • I’ll then have the class do a couple of repetitions of the technique to develop muscle memory;
  • Work through the remaining techniques, having a different person show each technique, and then the class briefly practice; and
  • I’ll show any techniques that nobody had remembered and have the class briefly practice.

Another strategy I will use for recall is at the end of the class or seminar is to either to have individual students briefly demonstrate one of techniques until we have covered them all, or if time is short to question the students in the lineup when we finish about which technique we did during the session to at least make them think about and recall the techniques.


This may seem similar to repetition and recall, but it’s not related to the specific technique. Reinforcement could be exercises in the warm up that replicate movements in the technique, it could be related techniques that connect to the specific technique, allowing greater opportunities to deploy the specific technique. It could be drills that use elements of the technique to reinforce the muscle memory.

Another method to aid reinforcement is to focus strength and conditioning sessions to build strength and skill on complementary areas, for example the core strength required to sit up when an opponent stands in closed guard, or the conditioning to be able keep pressure on you opponent that compliments the technique you are trying to apply.