About two years ago, I had decided that I spent way to much time and money on “stuff” and not enough on “experiences”. This was just before I decided to sell everything I had ever worked for and to devote my life to training BJJ and discovering the world. Well, since that time, I have spent a lot of time and money on private lessons.
Here is a quick and easy “take-a-way” guide to the Pro’s and Con’s of private lessons
1) You’re going to spend one or more hours just thinking about BJJ. Yes, maybe you are thinking, “Hey, I focus on my BJJ every day when I go to class”. Well, sure. I’m sure you do, but are you 100% focused? Didn’t you stop drilling, not one time, to talk about Keenan’s last match or how Miyao was robbed at the last World’s? Bottom line, at a private session, there is no one there to distract you from what it is you are working on. I’m not saying that it needs to be a $200 session with a world champion, but you and your best training partner could do a lot of work in an uninterrupted hour! But, let’s face it, getting one-on-one attention from someone who has the experience and expertise of a world champion will give you a lot insights that you haven’t experienced before.
2) How cool is it that you can spend an hour or more with one of your idols, doing what you both love? Love basketball? Try getting an hour of one-on-one with Lebron James (or Micheal Jordan, for us old guys). Yeah, sure it’s gonna cost you $100 bucks or so, but you can actually get on the mat and lock-up your guard on Dean Lister (been there), or execute a sweet spider-guard sweep on Romulo Barral – OK, only because he lets you (done that). These are “once-in-a-lifetime” bucket list type things!
3) Focus on your weaknesses, not just the “move of the day”. Look, private lessons don’t always need to be a “bucket list”, “my BJJ idol” types of events. Finding time to train solo with one of your in-house Professors is a great way to hone your particular needs. When I was in college a few years ago, I would go to noon classes at my school and get lucky enough to get a one-on-one time with my professor. At that time, I was a white belt and the private sessions (mind you, I didn’t even pay extra for it) with my professor on “sweeps” was really valuable for me. Private sessions with your own Professor might actually be the BEST private class you’ll ever have!
4) Continuous sessions. One of the best private session scenarios I have been in has been with AJ Agazarm. AJ and I have done, I think three or four private sessions (in a short period of time). When I first did a private class with AJ, he brought a completely different perspective on how to think of things than my normal Professor. Better than the others but as a “continuous learner”, seeing and hearing different paradigms on BJJ is incredibly valuable!
1) Well, let’s face it, private sessions can be expensive! A private session with a BJJ legend will generally run between $100-$200 per hour. That’s more than a month’s worth of training at most BJJ gyms! It is sometimes hard enough just to come up with dues for the month, let alone shell out another $100 for one hour of private training.
2) It won’t always “FIT”. I remember the private session I did with Romulo Barral. I was a brand new purple belt and I was splitting the private one with my Professors. We started working on “spider guard” but then it morphed quickly into “worm-guard” and I was instantly lost. At that time, “worm guard” was something well beyond my goals and comprehension. I was still trying to understand basic De la Riva and Spider-Guard stuff. Honestly, I didn’t retain much of the Worm-Guard lesson Romulo gave us. (Fortunately, I did take away a crucial guard passing philosophy that has stayed with me until today!).
In the end, I can say, I have done a lot of private sessions and the value has been clearly evident in my game. It’s true, not every private lesson I have done has been a significant game changer for me, but I also think I didn’t take something for granted and saw the value of each lesson. In my mind, that is a definite win.
In summary, opening yourself up to new experiences is the BIG TAKEAWAY here. Private sessions with high caliber players that you aren’t familiar with will, most probably, have a positive effect on you and your game. Why? Well, mainly – and if for no other reason – you will approach things differently than you usually do. You will experience things from a different perspective than you normally do. If you are open to the idea, a new perspective can be just the thing to spark your game and give you a renewed sense of purpose, a new goal to shoot for, or a new style to learn.