Keep it simple stupid. Albert Einstein said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it”.

Whether instructing to others or teaching our own self, it’s tempting to over-explain unnecessary details to the first day white belt, or to anyone new to the idea, running through the many defenses of their attack and infinite other “what ifs”. Oftentimes the thought of explaining it more feels like we’re explaining it better.

No need to complicate anything, explain it simply. Time and practice will organically sprout a specific need to expand on the initial simple explanation. Let it sink in. The further explanation can be handled in bite sized chunks, specifically and simply as we evolve.

We have to intentionally underexplain so students don’t get overwhelmed and overvalue minute details over basic concepts. When we explain it all at once, they tend to see details in an equally weighted manner. Better to give them something simple to internalize, and add details later to organically sprouted weaknesses in their execution of the final technique.

We must resist the temptation to “get it right” from the start. Resist the idea of “once we get this down we can move on”. Better to get the bullet points of a few general ideas. Next time around clean those up ideas and add some details, rinse and repeat, polishing the whole over the individual technique or idea.

What is an x-choke?

To someone on the street it means crossing your arms into an x while grabbing the collar, and using that to close off the arteries. That’s all they need to know, and that’s all they’ll remember.

To a white belt we discuss grip depth, elbow placement, closing distance etc.

To higher ranks we may talk about risk mitigation and contingency plans around it, how it sets up an armdrag, armlock or sweep. Or how it’s beauty can be applied to other chokes or movements.

Techniques should be taught differently based on where the student is in their journey. Be careful if we/they seem blown away or wowed by our instruction, what seems impressive usually isn’t sinking in. We should aim more for the looks around the room, of “oh yeah, that makes sense” or the less accurate “duh, i know this already”. The same with retaining your own new knowledge. You’re ready for it when you feel more of “duh” than ”wow’”.

Regardless, each adjustment should be a simple one, and should be based organically on the actual need for them to fill the gaps. This gives them sticking power. They can still seem mind blowing at times, but should always be based on the super simple initial explanations. As usual I’ve already over-explained this idea. Keep it simple stupid, in teaching and in learning.