The Sound of Sweeping

The Sound of Sweeping

By: Val Worthington

Teaching jiu-jitsu is a complex task, and the necessary skills extend beyond the actual exchange of information and assessment of performance, each of which is complex in and of itself. There are interpersonal interactions, which involve making people feel comfortable and welcome. There is logistics, which includes planning a good mix of warmup, technique, and live training, as well as making sure students have enough time to drill each variation of a move. There is timing, specifically making sure you have a Plan B if the round timer is not set to the number of minutes you want for the timed rounds and you do not know how to change it although you have been training for-freaking-ever.

Another topic related to teaching is the soundtrack. It may not seem like music would be an important issue, but I am willing to bet that those of us who have been training for long enough have had at least one experience where a song came on during a class or an open mat that made everyone laugh or at least one person say, “Ugh, NEXT!” It’s the kind of thing that does not matter until it does.

The Sound of Sweeping

Drilling the basics is often enhanced by great music

I started to think more about effective music choices when I began teaching early morning classes. I only had my own mood and energy level to go by, but I went through a lot of trial and error trying to find music that was not too mellow but not too jarring, and on any given day I frequently ended up too close to either end of the spectrum. It has only been recently that I have seemed to get the balance right, and the informal feedback I get from students bears this out. My MO nowadays is to think of a song that sounds like the right level of pep (e.g., Bust a Move, Groove Is in the Heart, Bohemian Like You, Brimful of Asha, Cinco de Mayo), search for it on Spotify, and play the resulting playlist. Seems to be working, but I am always tinkering with the formula.

I do not have access to scientific data, but I do know I am not the only instructor to think about this. Here is a just a smattering of what you might hear if you come visit us at PBJJ:

“Gerry plays Cardi B. Hood life.”

Emily: It depends what mood I’m in. I feel like a lot of people like training to hip hop, so I’ll go to 90s hip hop pretty quickly. Then some days I get into rock, alt, top 40, electro, but perhaps my inclination is to play music from the 90s when I was a teenager. Makes me feel happy, I guess.

Mark D: It’s either “today’s top hits” for the more diverse (larger, intermediate level crowd) or trap music and 90s era rap (for the smaller, more intimate groups). As to why, if the group is smaller (and usually more advanced), it sometimes feels like we enjoy and move better to a more beat-driven, rougher style music. whether that’s true or not, I haven’t the slightest idea.

Ed: I select individual mid- to late-90s rapper Pandora stations or the hard rock strength training Pandora station. The reasoning is that I personally find that these genres of music are awesome to smash pads and spar to. I grew up with this music and personally listen to these genres when I train. Lastly, I find that the majority of the mid- to late-90s rap music and progressive rock (late 90s and early 2000s) music both have a competitive edge or mean streak to their lyrics and beats. As a side note, I’ve been to a couple BJJ classes that had reggae playing, and I felt it was a calming influence to help me settle down in prep for rolling with a room full of sharks!!

How do you feel about the music that plays when you train? Is it important or do I need to find something else to worry about? Post your opinions to comments.

One Comment

  • Shane

    Post Hardcore
    Melodic Hardcore
    Melodic Metalcore
    Pop Punk
    Post Punk
    Dub Step

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