You attend class regularly. You listen attentively. You drill diligently. You keep showing up — but despite your obvious dedication, your progress doesn’t fully match up to the mat time you’ve been putting in. Does this sound familiar to you? I know that I’ve been in this situation — and it wasn’t until I really took ownership of my own learning that I started to make the progress that I was after.

As important as it is to show up to class, the truth is sometimes showing up isn’t enough – it’s a start and it’s more than what many do … but when you are aware of a stall in your progress, it’s time to take a closer look at your learning and figure out how to further your progress. This is what taking ownership is all about.

Unless you’re doing only one-on-one training, you’re in a group class. This means that everyone is receiving the same detailed instruction as you are. They are learning the same techniques – however, what you do beyond the techinque taught is what will really make a difference to your progress. You decide how you are going to take ownership of what was taught — are you going to efficiently use all the drill time to get in your reps or are you going to do a couple and then sit and chat? Are you going to accept that you didn’t remember all the details of the technique and just go with it or will you raise your hand and ask for assistance? Again, we’re all there learning the same thing – it’s how you make it your own that will make the experience truly resonate for you.


group classes are great, and the occasional one-on-one training session helps a lot too

Once your coach gives you guidance, it’s up to you to figure out how you want to implement it. I know that I often avoided drilling techniques that I struggled with. I didn’t want to do them because I was not good at them. However, that type of avoidance wasn’t going to get me anywhere. The only way I could move forward was if I took ownership of my own learning. I had to make sure that I specifically drilled those techniques that I was trying to avoid. Again, I had to take ownership of my learning.

Accepting the challenge and recognizing that I needed to put in hard work to achieve what I wanted has been a good practice for me. It is something that I have been able to apply both on and off the mats. Taking ownership has taught me how to question and ask for clarification without hesitation. It has also prompted me to take a closer look at how I learn best. I came to realize that watching and doing wasn’t enough, I needed to write it down. I needed to figure out the moves on paper and visualize the sequence of events in writing before I could apply them. It may seem like an extra, tedious step, but for me it was one that was necessary.


taking notes can be tedious, but they’re definitely helpful

I also realized that video recording myself doing techniques was also helpful so that I could see my errors; it gave me something concrete to work on instead of just hearing feedback such as ‘your hips are too high’ or ‘your body isn’t at enough of an angle’ – actually seeing it enabled me to understand it and thereby make improvements.


rewatching my drilling from the day’s lesson

Everyone learns differently. Take the time to figure out what will make it click for you – watching more videos? Talking to someone about your struggles? More drill time (never a bad thing)? Actively engaging with and taking ownership of your learning will keep you better connected with your jiu-jitsu and take your training to a whole other level.



Links to other posts in this series: 

Beyond the Technique: Focus 

Beyond the Technique: Discipline 

Beyond the Technique: Patience

Beyond the Technique: Confidence