Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Aptitude, Application, and Knowledge

I have put much thought into my own game and the game of others. How some are better and some just have a hard time executing. Even though we all have the same build, physical attributes, and possibly intelligence. Still there is a dichotomy. Some people compete and spar better, some people are better teachers, and well unfortunately some are poor at both. I think being poor at both, if you are mentally and physically capable has more to do with attitude and physical readiness than anything else. They came into the art unprepared.

I want to focus on the teachers and performers. Why they are not synonymous. On rare occasions you will get someone who is great at teaching and also great at executing. These are the exceptions. Usually this is not the case.

I believe it has to do with aptitude, knowledge and application. Let's start with aptitude - ability to learn. Now not all great performers and teachers need great aptitude. Sometimes a great performer can learn a few moves over time, but perform them exceptionally well. A great teacher may take a long time to learn something but once it's learned, they have a very deep and profound knowledge on the technique. Aptitude does help and will set the performer and teacher apart from their peers. This is their ability to learn and integrate information quickly. Aptitude transfers into knowledge.

This is where the key differences will lie. Why don't all people with great knowledge turn out to be great performers? It seems like that would make sense right? Or I may know more than the next guy, why does he keep submitting me at will? Is he just stronger than me? It has to be physical right? Or the inverse: I am so much better than this guy, so why does he know so much more than I do? Why does everyone listen to him but not me?

So here it is. Maybe someone is more knowledgeable, so they are great at teaching. To be a great performer though, you need to have a high transfer rate from knowledge to application. Meaning this:

If I have 100 points of knowledge but only 25% of that transfers over to application, I can apply 25 points of Jiu Jitsu knowledge into my roll.

My opponent has 70 points of knowledge, but has a transfer rate of 80%. That means they can apply 56 points of Jiu Jitsu knowledge into the roll. All other things being equal, this person will kick my ass. Though my 100 points of knowledge will make me a better teacher than his 90 points.

I can still beat someone with 125 points of knowledge who only has a 10% transfer to application rate (this could represent a higher rank who does not compete well). Or someone with 15 points of knowledge who has a transfer rate of 90% (this would be a good beginner).

So knowledge isn't everything. Neither is application nor aptitude. What we have to consider along with those things are the in-betweens, the transfer rates. How much transfers from aptitude to knowledge, from knowledge to application.

To go back to aptitude, we can have someone with a high aptitude, who learns things very quickly. I know people like this as well, who can learn a move quickly and forget it the next day. They have a poor transfer rate from aptitude to knowledge. Think about moves you used to do well but forget about or can't remember the finer details, that information never transferred over into knowledge.

This is why when you have someone who has a high aptitude, knowledge, application, and has a high transfer rate from each, they seem like a BJJ god. Though physically and even mentally or emotionally they seem very human.

A lot of this is within our control...This is the mental side of Jiu Jitsu that I blog about. This is what separates my blog from other blogs and why I don't want to make this an instructional on techniques.

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