Posture, Pressure, Possibilities Model

Below you will find a detailed description of the 3P model I developed a while back. Before going into specifics I want to talk about why I developed it in the first place. I was somewhere around high purple belt or new brown belt at the time. Can’t quite remember. I had been teaching Jiu Jitsu classes since white belt.  The class structure I was using was what all of SBG was using at the time. We made good use of the I Method which was a great tool for structuring classes to make sure students got a chance to test the class material against resistance every single class. It’s a great structure and always makes for a good class flow.

My problem though was that I noticed that very often when I attended classes I’d learn a technique in class and feel really good about it. I’d then try it in sparring the next time out and It wouldn’t work for me at all. Sometimes though I could learn a brand new technique and it’d fit right in. This was a problem. I found that maybe one in five times that the technique I learned in class could slip right into my game. The other 4 times my game wasn’t ready. I just assumed that’s the way it was. You just had to keep coming in and when your game was ready the technique would be yours. As a student I didn’t mind this but as a coach it bothered me. I didn’t like the idea that much of what I was teaching wasn’t immediately useful to students.

With this in mind I began to think about how to break things down so that everyone could get something useful out of class. This was make more difficult by the fact that classes were mixed so I’d have first day students with 5 year students in the same class. I started asking what it is that students needed to know in order to be able to use the technique? In asking this question I kept coming back to posture over and over.  For every technique I was teaching students there is an inherent posture battle right at the start.

Once I identified this as the starting place I started to think about what happens from posture in every position. I looked at submissions, escapes, reversals, sweeps etc. In every case there was a pressure from good posture that made the technique possible.

With these two things in place the third was obvious. What is it that you want to accomplish with the pressure from posture? Is it a sweep? or a submission? or a reversal? These are the possibilities.

I found that by teaching techniques with this structure I could give something useful to everyone. First day students would only get the posture part. This is hugely valuable and important to their game right where it is. More experienced students may get both the posture and the ability to apply pressure from the position. They may not be able to pull off the technique yet (possibility) but they have valuable new insight into how it works. Advanced students will get the whole thing and apply it immediately to their game.

That’s it! I now use the 3P method and the I Method structure in all my classes. I feel confident that all my students can get something useful and it no longer matters if I have brown belts and white belts in the same class. Everybody gets what they need.

Posture- (Structure)

The initial stages of learning a new position always involve learning posture. Posture is simply where to put your arms, body, head,  and legs in relation to your opponents. To work posture using the Isolation stage of the I method you will either have students start in posture and try to keep it or the other option is to start without posture and  try to obtain it.

Reset Drill- Start out of posture. Work to get to posture. The instructor will call out “reset” periodically and reset you to the start position.

Objective Drill- Start in poor posture and work to get optimal posture. When you get to good posture you “win.” Start over again…
Call Out- Instructor calls out posture and student gets that posture and tries to hold. Example- safety position, base and posture, and combat base.
Pocket Drill-Students stay in the pocket or “range zone” and work to get posture. Example would be head fighting while clench surfing.
Isolation Drill- Here you start with the posture and must move to an objective from that posture. An example would be that top guy must maintain mount and finish from there. Or bottom guy must finish from guard etc.

Pressure- (Tactics)

Pressure refers to how you move your body while in posture. This could be a pull or push or lift or twist or rotate.

Reset Drill- Start in posture and execute pressure until you no longer have posture or until the instructor calls out “reset.”
Objective Drill- Start in posture and use pressure to move to a different posture or escape or submit or reverse etc.
Call Out- Start in posture and instructor will call out the pressure to use. Example- Barrel, spike, rudder, tripod etc.
Pocket Drill- Start in a particular range and keep it there. Student either has posture already or is working to get it. Once posture is obtained student works to pressure. Opponent must stay in the pocket.
Isolation Drill- Use pressure from a particular position. An example would be starting from seated butterfly guard and working to push, pull, lift and rotate from there. Could isolate a particular objective of the pressure like a sweep or submission etc.

Possibilities/Potential- (Strategy)

This refers to what you are trying to accomplish with the pressure. It could be submission or escape or reversal or pin. This is technique. If students have worked well through the posture and pressure stages techniques should pop up spontaneously all over. All the instructor needs to do at this point is to take what students are already doing and refine a bit. To name and refine the technique at this point will help them to organize it and put it into their game.
There may be times however when there is literally nothing to do at this stage. Especially with beginners. To start to show techniques at this point may just confuse the issue. It’s possible to leave students with posture and pressure and give them some time to work just that into their game before you address specific techniques. This will allow them to play and discover some techniques for themselves. It’s a great way to produce active learners at a gym. If you always “feed” students the techniques then they will be passive and expect you to always solve problems for them. This way they are free to discover the answers themselves because they have all the tools necessary at their disposal. Posture and pressure gives them that. It’s also nice because it allows them to discover their own game. Some techniques will work for some students and not for others. The nice thing about allowing them to discover their own technique is that they always discover the ones that work for them. They build their own game.

Obviously you can’t do this all the time. A healthy balance of giving them technique and allowing them to discover them on their own is probably the best solution. I won’t claim to know what percentage of each is optimal. I think as long as students are given time to play and create, and they are taking charge of their own learning it will work out well. The point is that you don’t spoon feed students all the time or they will come to expect it and become lazy learners. If they have a healthy dose of figuring it out on their own they will learn how to become active learners within the game of BJJ.
This is a way of breaking down and organizing the game of BJJ into an easier to teach and learn system of postures and pressures. It’s always taught in this particular order because this is the order it occurs in rolling. Before teaching a lesson using this method you must first give students the objective of the posture and pressure. The objective is usually a submission, an escape, a pin, or a sweep or reversal. Students need to know this ahead of time so that they can connect the  pressures to the objective when they are drilling. Also, don’t forget to give the students the answer to the question “Why?” as you teach this way. They need to know why this posture as opposed to another or why they should pressure in this particular way. It’s important that they get an intellectual understanding as well as a kinesthetic one