• Jason

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Teaching Three Minute Hack #1: Custom Development Plans

The Big Idea: Give your students a battery of personality tests. Analyze the results. Use the results to give them tips on how they can learn best, and use the results to tailor your teaching methods to each of your students.

In the education world,we refer to this as "differentiated instruction." We're all different. We have particular strengths and weaknesses. As such, we learn differently. Typically, jiu jitsu instructors adopt a "one size fits all" approach to teaching class. That works great... for some of your students who, by chance, learn best with your particular style. But what about the rest of your students? This teaching hack allows you to start reaching ALL of your students.


We start by using the science of psychological personality assessment. The tests include a version of the Myers/Briggs, a strengths-based test, a team role test, a variation of the DISC test, and a variation of the Eyesenck Personality Inventory. Together, they give us a good feel for a specific individual's particular strengths and weaknesses. As a former experimental psychology student, I'm well-versed in using these tools to assess people. I've been using this particular set of tests in my classroom for two decades; I can attest to their effectiveness.

Once the results are determined, we can use the data to create a report that will teach each student how they learn best, which includes giving them very specific tips for things they can do before, during, and after class. We will also use the information to modify how we teach this specific student. For example, the last student we assessed was a strong visual learner who learned best by independently solving problems. For this student, we will teach them to make and use different graphic organizers to help make sense of the bjj curriculum, recommend videos that will supplement the details of our techniques we cover in class, and give them just enough information to allow them to explore techniques on their own. Using these simple modifications, this student will learn faster and enjoy classes more.

This battery of assessments also gives us insight on how students may contribute to the team. At El Diablo Combatives, we use the science of tribalism to foster group cohesion among our team as a way of maintaining a great learning culture. These assessments allow us to give our students specific roles within the team in a way that is helpful to the team and personally fulfilling for the individual student.

For example, the aforementioned student really loves playing a peacekeeper role, so their optimal role within the tribe is a mediator. If people are on the cusp of developing a conflict, this particular student is adept at understanding both perspectives, getting to the root of the problem, and developing a mutually-beneficial win-win solution that makes everyone happy. This skill is rare. It's even more rare to find individuals who genuinely love this role. If it weren't for the assessment hack, we'd never have known this student had this skill. More significantly, our team would never have the benefit of this student's contribution. It makes us a better team, which makes us better as individuals.

Custom development plans. Give it a shot! If you try it, leave a comment and let us know how it goes.