Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Recall and Feedback

I had a conversation with a student about the value of video learning compared to live instruction. We agreed that video instruction is great and that live training is best, but didn’t get into why.

The obvious answer is live training gives us immediate feedback. In having a teacher watch you, you’re told exactly what mistake you’re making and when. When you’re sparring, you know when something fails because failing typically means losing position or getting submitted.

But the other big benefit is the opportunity to practice recall. When studying any subject, the average student just reviews notes until it’s exam time. But a better method for learning is testing yourself well before you think you’re “ready.” Close the book/notebook, and try to recall what you’ve learned.

In class, after the technique portion, I encourage students to immediately use the day’s technique during sparring. Some try, some don’t.

In live training, you get to test yourself immediately against resistance. Can you remember the step-by-step instructions when you need it most?1

From the book Ultralearning (emphasis mine):

Though it is true that feedback is valuable, once again, retrieval doesn’t simply reduce down to getting more feedback. In the experiments mentioned, students were asked to do free recall but weren’t provided any feedback about items they missed or got wrong. The act of trying to summon up knowledge from memory is a powerful learning tool on its own, beyond its connection to direct practice or feedback.

  1. This is why principle-based learning is so important if you want to improve your jiu-jitsu. ↩︎

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