My BJJ Instructional Reviews Process (& How To Use Them To Get Better)

By Tsavo NealInstructionalsLeave a Comment

Want to get more out of BJJ instructionals? Use my BJJ instructional reviews process.

On BJJ Equipment, I also review BJJ instructionals.

I think of instructionals as equipment.

Instructionals equip you with knowledge. And knowledge is essential to improving your jiu-jitsu.

My goals with each BJJ instructional I purchase are as follows:

  • A) use them to improve my game
  • B) publish my reviews and notes to help other practitioners make better purchasing decisions (so they can find the right instructional for them — and improve their games)

In this article, you’ll understand my process for how I watch, take notes, apply, and review BJJ instructionals.

Ultimately, I want to use instructionals to get better at jiu-jitsu — and help other jiujiteiros do the same.

BJJ Instructional Reviews Process: Questions

I’ve tried to simply watch an instructional as if doing so would magically improve my game. But that hasn’t worked so well.

Now, I pose questions to myself about the instructional. This forces me to engage critically with the material.

Instead of merely consuming it, I’m having a conversation with it.

Gordon Ryan calls this the “mental hard work” of jiu-jitsu. I learned this concept from his instructional “The Sport Of Kings: High-Performance Mindset for Grappling.”

Here are the questions I answer before, during, and after each instructional.

Before I Watch The Instructional

I answer two questions before I begin watching it:

What do I want to learn from it?

Here, I write down what I want to learn from the instructional.

I bring up the instructional syllabus. Then, I make a bullet point list of what I’d like to learn and improve upon based on the instructional’s title, description, and syllabus.

What is the current status of this part of my game?

If I’m watching a half-guard instructional, I write about the current status of my half-guard game.

This helps me measure my improvement before and after the instructional.

While I’m Watching The Instructional

While I’m watching the instructional, I’m making notes based on what I learn.

My mindset while watching an instructional is to imagine as if I’m getting one-on-one virtual coaching from the instructor. It’s on me to take the information I’m given and use it in class.

Generally, I’ll watch between 25-50 minutes of an instructional per day.

I’m only taking notes on what’s particularly interesting to me. Otherwise, I’d have to write down everything, and my notes would no longer be useful.

As I’m writing down what I learn and trying it out on the mats, I’m answering two questions:

How easy is it to understand?

Here, I’m writing about how easy it is to understand the material.

For example, as I’m watching the instructional, am I nodding my head and having “a-ha” moments? Am I grasping the concepts? Am I understanding how to apply what I’m learning?

Or am I confused about the material? Do I feel lost?

Ideally, the instructional is easy for me to grasp. This takes us to the next question:

How easy is it to apply?

Here, I’m writing about how easy it is to apply the material. This is related to the previous question, but slightly different.

For example, when I’m rolling in class, am I able to find the spots to apply the moves I learn in the instructional? Does it work? Who does it work on?

Ideally, the material in the instructional is easy to apply: meaning I can use what I learn from the instructional in real jiu-jitsu scenarios. Even better if it works on people who are stronger, faster, or better than me.

After I Watch The Instructional

After a few weeks of trying out the material during open mats, I journal about the progress I’ve made.

After 4-6 weeks, how has it improved my game?

Here, I write about whether or not my game has improved after practicing what I’ve learned in the instructional.

I’ll look at my journal and analyze where my game was before I started the instructional. Then, I’ll compare that to where I am 4-6 weeks later.

The more I feel as though I’ve improved, the more highly I’ll rate the instructional.

Is there anything else I wish I learned?

Here, I write about what the instructional was missing (if anything).

I’ll note down any questions I had that went unanswered, any scenarios that I don’t understand, or aspects that I think were missing.

Would I recommend this to a close training partner?

Here, I write about whether or not I’d recommend it to a close training partner.

BJJ instructionals are expensive. So I only want to recommend ones that I know will improve your game.

In this section, I’ll also write about what type of jiu-jitsu practitioner the instructional would benefit the most.

BJJ Journal For Instructionals

As I roll during the open mat, I practice what I’ve learned from the instructional.

After, I’ll write about it in my BJJ journal. I keep it short and simple so I can remain consistent.

Here are the 4 prompts that I use after each open mat:

Today, I will XXX.

Before class, I describe what technique from the instructional I will try and hit during the open mat.

Ex: Today, I’m going to start in seated butterfly guard, grab a 2-on-1 grip, get into single leg X, and sweep my opponent.


Here, I write down any successes I had with the technique I’m trying to hit.

Ex: I was able to sweep 1 blue belt and 3 white belts with the single leg X sweep.


Here, I jot down any failures I had with the technique I’m trying to hit.

Ex: I was able to get into single leg X against a brown belt, but they passed my guard.


Here, I’ll jot down any particular notes or questions that stand out to me from today’s rolling. I’ll review these as I continue watching the instructional and before my next class. I might also bring these questions to my instructor to get his opinion.

ex: I asked my instructor how to defend against the guard pass from single leg X. He said to ensure that my hips are high, connecting my knee to my ankle to “close the circuit,” to get my opponent’s foot off the ground quickly. That will help me get the sweep right away, which is important — you don’t want to be hanging around in single-leg X guard.

My BJJ journal helps me apply what I learn, log my results, and analyze my improvement.

BJJ Instructional Reviews Process: Conclusion

This is my “open source” BJJ instructional review process.

It’s still a work in progress. I’ll continue to improve it over time.

Do you have any feedback on how I could get more out of BJJ instructionals?

Anything specific you’d like to learn from my BJJ instructional review posts?

Or, do you have an instructional you’d like me to review?

Shoot me an email at

I read and respond to every email.

tsavo neal

Tsavo Neal

Tsavo is the founder of BJJ Equipment, an assistant BJJ instructor at InFighting, and a BJJ purple belt. He's a passionate hobbyist and BJJ gear/equipment aficionado. He launched BJJ Equipment in 2022 to make it easy for grapplers to find the best BJJ gear so they look, feel, and perform at their best on the mats.

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