NLP techniques in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training process

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These Guidelines will be of interest to both professors of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and students who study the BJJ on their own.

The author of the book, Marat Kenzhebulatov, is the holder of a black belt in BJJ (IBJJF) of the CHECKMAT TEAM Academy under the leadership of Leo Vieira, the bronze medalist of the 2018 IBJJF GI European Championship and the bronze medalist of the National American 2021 IBJJF NO-GI in black belts; has an NLP Master’s Degree received at the A.A. Pligin’s Center for NLP in Education (Moscow). Since 2016, he has been the head of the Bars Checkmat Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, which has gyms in Kazakhstan and the USA.


Good results in sports are determined not only by the genetic disposition of athletes but also by a highly effective organization of their learning and training process.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is probably one of the most difficult martial arts in the world, as this sport is constantly evolving and what was a standard technique yesterday is now considered to be “old school”. Naturally, this directly affects the difficulty of learning, since not only does the student need to be taught, but the professor also needs to continuously develop. Moreover, the learning and training process becomes more complicated every year both in practical and theoretical terms. One of the fundamental features of jitsers’ training, in addition to physical complexity, flexibility, athletic training, is also the relationship between physical and psychological aspects.

In BJJ, as in many other sports, the basic development basis is formed by the professor’s preparation for classes, and by the jitser’s aspiration, their attitude towards training and to their achievements, and, of course, by their thinking. But even so, mistakes and misunderstandings of concepts can be seen in most jitters at competitions of any level, including international ones. This indicates that during the training process little attention was paid to the effective perception of the presentation of training material.

Currently, athletes in BJJ are required to have at least a good competition form, and this is already becoming commonplace. Jitsers, who set grand goals for themselves, are more careful in training and competition; they try to participate in both sections at once, both in Know-Gi and Gi, and at the same time have eight fights in each division. And some jitsers plan to go professional and pay great attention to training and the corresponding results of their performances. These athletes can easily be found in high-level competitions such as the European Championships or the World Championships.

Generally, the results of jitsers directly depend on their physical fitness; often their experience in other sports disciplines plays a significant role in this. Nevertheless, very often, due to the incorrect design of the educational and training process, athletes get stuck in their development and eventually quit sports altogether.

Now it is very important to examine all the nuances of jitsers’ physical fitness to the smallest detail; however, the subject of researching such methods as effective delivery of educational material to jitsers still needs to be worked out.

In this book, you may first encounter NLP, so let’s briefly talk about NLP! The abbreviation NLP stands for neurolinguistic programming, and it is considered a separate field in practical psychology. The methods used in NLP relate to programming, psychology, and linguistics. NLP is actively involved in human life and is used everywhere. NLPers study successful projects of experts in these areas with the aim of further drawing on this experience. NLP models people who have achieved success and accumulates this experience so that in the future any person could not only repeat but even surpass this success, adding something from themselves.

Returning to our original task, we will try to combine the NLP methods and the educational process in BJJ. An important point here is the identification of jitsers’ perception channels and metaprograms by their professor. At the time when information enters the human brain, the person’s thinking processes are activated to process it and make a decision. Research has shown that by tracking which thinking methods a person prefers, they will be more successful in assimilating new material.

Those metaprograms that jitser prefers, choose the information that will be implemented in the first place, and the way it will be assimilated is highlighted.

One of the important conditions for effective training of jitsers is the form of presentation of educational material. It is important to take into account the senses that form the dominant system of information perception. This approach is currently often used unconsciously, thus failing to render 100% efficiency. Taking into account all the capabilities of metaprograms and perception of the senses and their correct combination significantly improve jitsers’ performance. As a result, the relevance of my research is due to the organization of the effective delivery of educational materials in the training process to train jitsers successfully.

The purpose of this publication is to determine the organizational and pedagogical environment for training jitsers using neurolinguistic programming (NLP) methods to address the problems of effective mastering of fighting techniques by jitsers.

The subject of the publication will be the training process of jitsers.

The subject of publication will be methods and forms of presentation of training material.

In this publication, I want to offer a recommendation based on the hypothesis that the methodology for training jitsers at the stage of explaining fighting techniques will be productive and pedagogically expedient if it is built on the following:

• taking into account the predominant way of assimilation of information by athletes from the external world;

• taking into account the algorithms of information perception by athletes.

Following the goal, subject, and advanced hypothesis, the following objectives were formulated:

1. To study the peculiarities of the training process in BJJ and to set the main directions of presenting information and training material to athletes.

2. Describe the presentation of training material as a method and way of teaching in the training process.

3. Determine the conditions for organizing and conducting the presentation of material in training, taking into account the peculiarities of information perception by athletes.

Research methods: theoretical and practical analysis of literary sources and personal experience, analysis of the program, and methodological documentation.

These recommendations were built on training experience. A certain period was taken and examined. During this period, the tools that I will offer below were used. The methodological basis and the tasks set determined the course of the study, which was carried out in three stages during 2016–2018.

The first stage (December 2016 – February 2017). At this stage, a theoretical analysis of specialized literature was conducted, and the training process in the preparation of athletes was studied. The collection of theoretical and practical material on the research problem has been completed. The subject, object, goal, hypothesis, and objectives of the research were determined.

The second stage (March 2017 – November 2017). The study of theoretical and methodological literature continued. The peculiarities of information perception by athletes were studied taking into account metaprograms.

Third stage (December 2017 – January 2018). During this period, conclusions were made, analysis and processing of the results obtained, their generalization, systematization, and formulation of final results, registration of the final qualifying work were carried out.

As a result of this study, a group of seven students, who started from scratch in early 2016, competed at the IBJJF European Championships in Portugal in January 2018 and brought back one gold (among blue belts) and one bronze medal (among white belts).

Chapter 1.
NLP and training

1.1. BJJ and Rapport

The development of modern BJJ is moving forward rapidly. The emergence of new techniques, access to the Internet, universal digitalization, the expansion of experience, which must be transferred as quickly and efficiently as possible in training processes, pose new challenges to BJJ. Everyone around is concerned about effective learning, namely the assimilation of new information. Specialists in this area are engaged, whose task is to find the most effective assimilation. And each BJJ academy is considering new ways to address this; however, there is still no universal solution. Depending on the viewpoint of the academy, the emphasis in the training process is on different approaches.

I want to draw the attention of professors and heads of academies to the use of neurolinguistic programming (NLP) technologies in teaching BJJ. The use of NLP ideas makes it possible to implement both a general and an individual approach to students, which has recently become very popular and practiced. The task is complicated by the fact that it is necessary to identify the leading channel of perception, which, accordingly, will open up opportunities for determining the most effective ways of receiving information for each person. Then it will allow you to create and implement a universal approach to students, taking into account their different representative systems and metaprograms. As a rule, learning has always been associated with mental ability, while limiting only to the distinctness of thinking. We will take into account various processes of the psyche, specifically memory, the speed of decision-making, motivation, etc. To assess the trainees, we will use indicators such as the progress speed, initiative, efficiency, the adaptation speed in new conditions. We are going to focus on the individual characteristics of students – imagination, attention, memory, and thinking.

There is a very important element here, which is, one might say, key in the relationship between students and the Professor. It’s all about rapport.

Rapport is the state of two or more people who enter into mental confidence in one other. Leading another person is a type of influence in which the behavior of one person causes a certain behavior in another. For example, someone on the team begins to actively and confidently behave and sets the tone, and this passes on to the rest of the team. This situation is very effective in team sports competitions.

Where there is rapport, people act as a single mechanism, and everything is interconnected. It’s like a clock. Imagine a stream of cars on a freeway – everyone drives fast, orderly, and trusts each other. Or as a dancing couple, where a full rapport is established between partners, a man leads and a woman completely trusts him! The professor explains the technique, and all students trust him and repeat one to one, honing their skills. People who are in rapport are said to be on the same wavelength.

The creation of rapport is the creation of such a resonance between people, which will be primarily conscious and subject to control when achieving specific goals.

This so-to-say joint voyage will result in trust. Trust is present where people are alike in their ideas, interests, and, of course, in their conduct. Oddly enough, the more people are alike, the more trust there is! After all, a person most of all trusts himself first.

There are various tools to achieve rapport between a professor and their students, but we will learn to adjust to representative systems and metaprograms or teach in a way that takes into account each student’s representative systems and metaprograms. Establishing rapport is the most important component in the BJJ training process!

1.2. Sense organs as ways to perceive information

Have you ever wondered how a person receives, stores, and encodes information entering their brain? It is the representative systems that help him in this. In the scientific world, experts in this field use different definitions of this term – channel of perception, sensory modality.

There are three representative systems in the NLP and three groups of people that are formed according to the degree of predominance in perception:

• visual learners, with a predominant visual system;

• auditory learners, with a predominant auditory system;

• kinesthetic learners, with a predominant kinesthetic system.

Any person receiving information from the outside world uses their senses, which are the so-called stimuli. With their help, the final understanding of what is happening around is formed. Specifically, we are talking about sight, hearing, taste, smell, and tactile sense. All information that a person accepts is systematized. The human brain assigns them its specific code, gives meaning, and displays it already in the form of feelings, emotions, speech, movements, etc. This is how our individual “experience” is formed – a representation of the perceived surrounding world. Inside we have the equivalents of each of these five senses, which add up to a “mirror: system. With the help of these equivalents, we remember, think, and visualize.

As a result, two main goals need to be achieved:

1) draw the student’s attention to the information that is being presented;

2) if the student does not like the information that is presented to them, or they do not agree with it, then this needs to be changed.

Using the five senses can be divided into two categories according to the way they interact with the human brain – external and internal. For the perception of the surrounding world, a person launches an external way of using, and for transmitting information to himself – an internal one. Through our sensations, images, tastes, and smells, we receive and store data in our memory. It is this data that forms the visual, kinesthetic and auditory representative systems.

Suppose a person looks at everything around them, and at this moment they activate the external. But if they imagine something, then they activate the internal.

There are internal and external methods in the auditory system as well.

The same goes for the kinesthetic system, namely the external kinesthetic and the internal one. The internal state of mind, emotional tension, and deep feelings all constitute internal kinesthetics, while everything related to touch – dryness, cold, warmth, touching, is external.

Smells and tastes play a huge part in connecting links with experiences, sounds, and images.


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