Abmar Barbosa is one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors in the world. He is known for being a bit out there on the edge with his technique. I would say that is putting it lightly. His DVD is known as Jiu-Jitsu Outlaw, because he likes to shake it up and do things differently. His seminar this Monday at Gracie Sydney started with one hell of a warm-up.
Upside down, between our standing opponents legs, literally doing the plow pose from yoga while rolling around and through the legs. I struggled big time, and it didn’t help that the other white belt I was partnered with (though with three blue stripes) seemed to know what he was doing. Not only did I struggle with the technical details of the move, but also the flexibility required seemed to be out of my range of motion. I thought to myself at the start of the seminar, “I am in for one long night, this is way too hard”. I underestimated Abmar’s teaching ability.
Breaking moves into the smallest details.
Abmar worked his way around the room, and although the techniques were now part of his instinct, took the time to break them down for us in the smallest possible detail until we were able to understand and perform them. On one particular technique he had me copy the motions in parallel with him without an opponent until I was able to master it. Then I tried the move against my partner. It worked like a charm. Brilliant!
Being aware when the students are struggling.
The mark of a good instructor is he or she is sensitive enough to know when students need more assistance. He had us re-group many times to go over a technique with which we were having difficulty. He then broke it down into even smaller detail until we could grasp it.
Knowing when to offer praise and encouragement.
I perservered with the moves. After what seemed like eternity, I nailed one of the sweeps, just as Abmar walked by. He smiled and said, “You got it, no problem”, and put out his hand to give me the low five, as I was in a prone position. My heart rose up, and I was immediately filled with confidence. The rest of the seminar was challenging to say the least, but with my new sense of purpose, I pushed on and learned a great deal of material. Sensing I was having great difficulty with the movements, he waited until I did one right to offer his encouragement. It would not have meant anything if he had praised me for doing a move half-heartedly.
Making the class challenging yet also drilling important skills without being boring.
Each move, although complex, was built on the one before it. In this case, we worked the moves from the same spider guard over and over again. Although I had very little experience with the spider guard before the seminar, the constant drilling of it gave me a great start on this very important part of BJJ.
Being passionate about the subject.
Abmar was so wrapped up in the class, he went well past the time slated for the seminar. You could tell Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is his life. As I performed each new technique the body somehow started to limber up and the movements started to become easier and more natural. I gained a new respect for the spider guard. As an instructor I came away with a great perspective on how to teach, from a great competitor, but also a fine teacher. Did I forget to mention, Abmar is only 27 years old?