Monday, March 31, 2008

Guest post: The Importance of Training Logs

Ed. This month's guest post is by one of my favorite bloggers, and a Convocation member, Steve of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - Steve's BJJ Log. His blog is a great diary of his training and study of BJJ, a breakdown of techniques in that art, and more. Check it out, and then subscribe to his feed for more!

I want to thank Nathan for giving me the opportunity to post as a guest on TDA Training. My name is Steve and I've been training in martial arts for about 4 years, and in BJJ since November of 2006 and keep track of this training over on my blog.

I came into blogging in a sort of backwards way, and lack the many years of experience that many of my online friends have put into perfecting their respective arts. What I do have, however, is a lifetime of experience doing things the hard way before discovering the "easy way." Until I launched my blog, I had never kept a log, diary or anything of the sort.

And that brings me to the point of this post, which is about training logs, blogs and the online Martial Arts community. There are many great reasons to keep a training log in some form or another. There are also many terrific reasons to blog and participate in the online community. They can help you document your training, remember the details and organize your thoughts. They can also help you meet other Martial Artists and gain insight into diverse training methods and styles.

My training log began online really only as a matter of convenience. Shortly after I began training at Foster BJJ, Coach Foster encouraged everyone to keep a training log so that we could track our progress and help reinforce the techniques covered in class. If I gained nothing else, this alone would be reason enough for me. Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that the vast majority of my content is related to my training. What is working for me and what isn't. Which techniques we learned on a given day. How well I was able to apply these techniques in sparring.

I am also now beginning to benefit from my early technical descriptions as I begin to go back and re-read them. I'm not overly introspective, but I am fascinated to read my early descriptions, remembering the classes and gaining insight not only into the techniques themselves, but also into what I noticed that first time around as opposed to what I can see and understand now. The first time I went back and read an early post on my training blog, I remember wondering why Coach Foster didn't show us many details. It was a few weeks later when I realized that he did, I just didn't see them. Very much like Homer Simpson, my brain was full.

Even if you never go back and read your training log again, simply the act of organizing your thoughts and mentally reviewing the lesson so that you can write it down will help you retain key details that you would otherwise forget.

Being asked to guest blog also got me thinking about our online community of martial artists... and bloggers. I was talking to a friend, a guy who began training in BJJ at the same time as I. He lives and trains in England, and I would never have met him had he not kept an online training log. One thing about the BJJ community is that it is still relatively small. The online community is much, much smaller. So, in the sense of reaching out to the global community of training partners, blogging is a fantastic habit to get into. Through my blog, I've had the pleasure of getting to know fellow jiu-jitsu students from literally all over the globe.

It's also a pleasure to be able to communicate with martial artists from every conceivable discipline, and to begin to understand how they train and why. From blogs like Martialviews, where John writes in broad terms about issues that affect all martial arts and artists, to Black Belt Mama's blog about her own personal trials and tribulations in life and martial arts. Mine is more of a technical blog, and fits my own personality. Yours will be something different and unique to you.

So, keep a training log. Whether it's online or on paper, your training will benefit. Start small and don't worry about whether or not you're doing something interesting to anyone else. Your log is for you, and if you enjoy it, you'll keep it up. One of the assistant instructors at my school said about BJJ specifically, but I think applicable to all disciplines, "When you start training you can't help but get better. You suck so bad that if you just show up, you'll improve. After a while, though, your improvement is up to you, and you have to start thinking about your training to get better." And if we accept this as true, then keeping a training log is a terrific way to organize our thoughts.

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