The Skill Life-Cycle

If you’re a software engineer or architect, this may vibe with you.

The Skill Life Cycle can be viewed much like the life-cycle of a software product. Following elements of the traditional waterfall and the agile development approaches to software engineering, you can compartmentalize the basic framework for deploying new capabilities to your training and competitive endeavors.

The basic life-cycle looks something like this:

The Skill Lifecycle

Acquisition: With software, we typically follow a decision model to build/buy/develop or stay ‘status quo’ with regard to acquiring capabilities to address gaps in (business) performance.

In JiuJitsu, we go through a similar model. We have many gaps/weaknesses in our “game” that we are trying to fix. We seek “new capabilities” or “fixes” to our games to close or improve the skill gap. We typically do this through reviewing videos, books and magazines, and through discussions with training partners. We even spend hours on the Internet going through forums like r/bjj.

At this stage, we know we need answers to our problems, so we invest a lot of time trying to figure out potential solutions.

Requirements: With software, once we’ve made our decision on how we acquire the new capability, we begin the process of decomposing our requirements to a fairly granular level in order to ensure the business gap can be met with the

In JiuJitsu, once we acquire what we believe will be the capability, we need to make sure we understand how to put it into practice.  In order to do this, we decompose the requirements into activities that we need to understand in order to begin using the skill. I cover this topic in more detail in the “5 Steps to Learn Any Technique“.

Design & Develop: With software, we go through iterations of initial designing and coding in order to evaluate what product is being produced and whether it will meet our requirements. In order to produce capabilities more quickly to end-users, we prefer using an agile development approach to shrink delivery time down and demonstrate value sooner. Activities like the daily scrum meeting, Sprints, and the Epic backlog become the norm as move toward the deployment of new capabilities.

In JiuJitsu, we begin to frame out what we need to do in order to meet our requirements (i.e., close our skill gap) and develop our training game plan.

I recommend a methodology that begins with the following items:

  • Examine the concepts related to anatomy
  • Break down the major muscle movements
  • Break down the mechanics

Test: In software engineering, a robust testing process will help troubleshoot defects, integration of existing capabilities, and help ensure that your requirements are being satisfactorily met.

In JiuJitsu, we start to put to practice what we want to do. We typically do this through drilling (solo and partner), and rolling in order to test out what we think should occur. In conjunction with the earlier steps above, I recommend the following during this phase:

  • Drill with precision
  • Add attributes to your drills
  • Drill with purpose

Without covering these areas in detail again, the idea here is to slowly test and obtain feedback (both verbal and physical) on the effectiveness of your testing. If you start to sweep or submit people, your technique is obviously working.  As you mature with the technique, you’ll begin adding more refinements to it over time to execute it the most efficient and effective way you can.

Deploy: With our software, we now “go-live” and use the capabilities to help run our business.

In JiuJitsu, now that you have battle-tested your techniques, you can test them through competition (in or outside the academy), and add the techniques to your “A Game”.

This is the Skill Life-Cycle. It is a way to view your JiuJitsu Journey as an evolutionary process of self-improvement on and off the mats.


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