I always tell students that anywhere from 5 to 95 % of what I say and teach in class is bullshit. It’s their job to sort that out for themselves. I say that in jest but it does have a ring of truth to it. I don’t want anyone to buy my truth as theirs automatically. Because I have more experience and rank than most of the people I teach it becomes easy for them to accept what I give them as gospel truth. I’m not comfortable with that at all. What I really want is a healthy level of skepticism from students. I want them to have a “prove it to me” attitude. Now granted, this is easier for my students to do with me because I’m not Rickson Gracie. It’s not too hard for them to think that I could be bullshitting them with what I’m teaching. I think this is one of the values of not having a superstar coach.
SBG Iceland and Estonia are perfect examples of this. These guys are astonishing students of the game. Both clubs grew without a black belt coach. They had to progressively build their games together with a healthy dose of bullshit meter applied. As a result it’s amazing to watch guys from these gyms work. They are very analytical and active in their learning. They don’t accept anything as gospel truth and test everything. They are independent learners and know that learning doesn’t just happen when the instructor is in front of the room giving out some new technique.
I Method as Meter
At the gym the biggest tool that allows students to do that is the I Method. By using the I Method in class I give the students a chance to communicate verbally and physically with their partner as well as test out the technique for themselves. It becomes obvious to everyone if what I’m teaching has some merit. If people are having success with it when we test it out against resistance then the answer is clear. They don’t have to rely on my judgment. They can rely on their own experience. If they can’t pull it off they can see whether or not everyone else is having the same trouble and make some value judgments based on that.
Keep it Honest
The I Method also keeps me honest. It becomes impossible for me to put out bull and get away with it. If I teach something that clearly is bull (I have) it will show right away in Isolation Stage. I’ve had many many instances of teaching something in introduction stage and watching it unfold when we add pressure in Isolation stage. Sometimes it really breaks down and I can see that student’s just aren’t able to make it work. This is beautiful! I love getting this feedback. When I get it I can pull students in and re-teach if I find I left something out or that most are making the same mistake. These are great teachable moments because the Isolation stage brings an immediate need for the instruction.Students are all ears because the struggle created an opportunity for them to fix something in their game. Sometimes though, what I see in Isolation stage is that I taught something that does not work. I’ve done this many times as well. This is a great lesson to know. It’s good for students as well as they get to find that out for themselves. I really love this about I Method. It’s so healthy. It encourages a healthy level of skepticism from students and teaches them to find out for themselves. It makes them more active participants in the teaching and learning process. They become the expert, not me.