Our lightweight female players have managed to master the juji-gatame roll (as well as an effective technique to straighten the arm) in double-quick time. Even I am amazed, and impressed, at how fast they managed to pick-up this technique. Normally, the juji-gatame roll takes beginners a long time to learn. Even advanced players have difficulty with this technique.

This is how they did it.

First and foremost, they come to class. There are players who say they want to learn this or that but they skip a lot of classes. These girls attend class regularly and consistently, so of course they will learn a lot.

Secondly, they pay attention to detail. They do so because they are serious about learning. They want to master techniques so they focus on what is being taught.

So far, what I've described relates to attitude. What about the physical part? We'll get to that in a moment but I can't emphasize enough the importance of attitude. With the correct attitude, you can learn fast and you can learn well. With the wrong attitude, you will never learn how to do a technique properly.

Now, on to the physical aspects of things.

I always have them go through the motions without resistance at first. Think of it as a kind of uchikomi for the ground. This is necessary in order to build up muscle memory. The movement must be second nature to them so that they don't even have to think about it when doing this in randori or shiai.

During this uchikomi, I will observe carefully and point out their mistakes on the spot. It could be that they forgot to grip their own lapel during a particular sequence or they kept their leg straight when it should have been bent and so on.

Sometimes, it's just small, little details but during uchikomi drills it's crucial to get everything right. Once you start letting small errors go without correcting them, it's a slippery slope you're on. One error leads to two, then to three, then four... and before you know it, the movement is riddled with errors, making it unworkable.

Once they are familiar with the movement, it's time to do resistance training. I usually allow tori to get the grip they want and then ask uke to resist after that.

Resistance training is super important. You need to test your capabilities against someone who knows exactly what you're doing and is resisting you fully. If you are able to pull off the technique against someone who knows what to expect, you will definitely be able to get it to work against someone who doesn't.

The last part is, of course, getting them to try the technique in randori and shiai. This is much harder than you think. People are creatures of habit. They tend to want to stick to their old ways of doing things. The ones who are serious about developing good techniques though, will make it a point to try it in a randori or shiai.

What I described above needs to be done again and again, in training session after training session. I know it can get boring doing the same old thing over and over but practice makes perfect. I've had some players in the past remark that they hope we're not the same technique again. Such players will never develop a mastery of the technique concerned.

If you want to master a certain technique, there is no such thing as being bored of it. You have to practice it over and over again. You must also be willing to tolerate aches and soreness (even a little bit of pain).

If you drill juji-gatame for an hour, you can expect to get some soreness. I've had students remark that all that drilling has made their arms sore. My question to them is simple: Do you want to master the technique or not?