Curriculums and the ability to learn

MMA Curriculum

By Michael Kotch

One’s ability to acquire knowledge and skills is directly correlated with being exposed to a well devised curriculum, and daily lesson plans.  A strong curriculum must reflect a sequential learning process, whereby simple skills are mastered before more complex techniques are introduced.  There must also be a mechanism in place for students to receive constant feedback from an instructor, while simultaneously being taught the procedure of self-assessment.  Ultimately; mastery of a skill can be divided into two factors; technical mastery, or the ability to execute a move or procedure correctly, and mastery revealed through application, which in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would be the ability to utilize proper techniques against a resisting opponent in a live situation.

Educators have always known that there is only so much information a student can absorb in a fixed amount of time.   Unfortunately; there is a tendency among coaches in grappling arts (wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) to get caught up in the desire to teach too much at one time, which leaves a student frustrated and confused.  Professor Marco Perazzo’s curriculum takes into account the appropriate amount of information that can be learned in a given training session, and he plans accordingly, so at most his students will learn 3 techniques per training session, which is dependent on the complexity of the techniques.

Learning takes place best when we can connect new skills to previously learned skills.  At NJMA, the curriculum was developed to guarantee that skills and techniques are taught according to categories based upon positions.  Therefore, each technique learned will flow seamlessly, so a given position found in the context of grappling is understood from both a defensive and offensive point of view.  Both the small details and the broader picture will quickly make sense to you!

The cohort model that is now being used in primary and secondary education, and which has been a stable to the teaching methods which have traditionally been utilized in professional schools is heavily relied upon at NJMA.  This means that an environment is created whereby students learn from each other.  Everyone comes to NJMA with the intention to develop their fitness and/or effectiveness in self-defense.  Some students have a desire to use their skills in a competitive arena.  Everyone’s ability to progress is dependent on the progression of their training partners.  Even with my 8 year old son who trains at NJMA, I see that the evolution of his technique in both wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is always the response to a need to adapt to current challenges that are presented to him by his peers.  It seems that he is most responsive to learning techniques that he perceives as relevant to an immediate circumstance.  Hence; the importance of being able to test techniques and concepts learned in live training cannot be overstated.

The bottom-line is that when you train at NJMA you will learn techniques and skills in an orderly fashion, and digestible manner.  You’ll receive the corrective feedback required to ensure that learning is taking place.  Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to hone your skills so they will be applicable to a live and unpredictable situation through controlled rolling/sparring with great people that want to see you succeed, and who recognize that your success translates into their success.

Michael Kotch is currently a behavioral development instructor at Camden County Technical Schools, and holds instructional certification as a New Jersey Teacher of the Handicapped, while also holding both New Jersey and national certification as a school psychologist.  His martial arts training began in 1993 in Shotokan Karate at Club Shotokan in Marlton, NJ.  Michael trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from 1995-1996.  He is currently an Asst. coach for Cinnaminson Township’s Youth wrestling program, and has a son, Sam Kotch that both wrestles for Cinnaminson’s youth team, and trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at NJMA, Delran under Chris Hughes.  Sam began training at NJMA in June of 2010 and he has enjoyed success in multiple competitions in both folk style wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu…

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