Last month, my wife and I purchased guitars. I have had many guitars in the past, both acoustic and bass, and never learned how to play them. My wife also has a violin (that she “really wanted”) collecting dust that I bought her a few years ago. To keep from repeating this cycle my wife suggested that we take lessons.
First, I must admit that I am the ultimate beginner and I can no longer read music even though I played instruments in middle school.
Second, how does this relate to BJJ?
Well, for the first time in a very long time I am starting something with no prior knowledge. I have put my total faith in the instructor as many BJJ students do when they come to an academy. It really makes you realize how important the instructor is in the process. I have also -re-realized the importance of not going to fast and learning the basics. My guitar instructor, Tommy, purposely made us focus on learning to play comfortably on two strings in the first lesson. Two weeks later in the second lesson, he had us playing songs such as “Ode to Joy,” “My Country Tis of Thee,” “Take me out to the Ballgame,” “The Flinstones” and more. Sometimes a third string is called for but we can handle it because we became comfortable with the first two.
He also told us to practice only 15 minutes a day for the first two weeks. Last session he moved us up to 20. Without his guidance I am quite sure our guitar career would have ended almost as soon as it began. Our first night we tried to learn from some DVDs and we spent an hour and a half fooling around and ended up frustrated. Tommy instead taught us basic moves and is stringing together combinations in the form of simple songs.
I can also see the benefits of almost daily practice. Since my wife doesn’t read my blog I can tell you this. Out of the two weeks I missed only three days. She missed a little more. Although we both were prepared I could see the difference. My playing was a little sharper and I was able to go faster. When he introduced the songs to us I picked them up quite easily. She struggled a bit. (This morning before work she was practicing the guitar so it’s on!)
In BJJ it is often hard to tell if you have gotten better since the last time you rolled, because the guys who beat you last week will probably beat you again this week and vice versa. Plus we may not always have an opportunity to use that sweep we’ve been working on. However, my improvement on the guitar clearly demonstrated how practice in between sessions helps.
Having an instructor also ramps up the accountability. For me BJJ is in my blood so I will practice techniques by myself until the cows come home, but a guitar is something I think would be cool to know how to do. Therefore, having someone there to monitor and guide my progress is a plus. It correlates to BJJ because even though I am self-motivated I feel an obligation to improve and know my instructor is monitoring my progress as well.
I know I maybe stretching the bounds of BJJ talk by blurbing about my guitar lessons. But I really saw how important the instructor, learning the basics and training at sensible regular intervals are to growth.