“[T]he open world that creatures inhabit is not prepared for them in advance. It is continually coming into being around them. It is a world that is of formative and transformative processes.” Tim Ingold
The Jiu Jitsu we practice at Zenyo is based on innovation, not imitation.
Zenyo’s ecological approach to training challenges you to be innovative and creative. We do this by designing situations for athletes to navigate rather than being told what to do by the instructor.
We call this training the Zenyo Game.
A structured environment where athletes are able to form their own personal understanding of Jiu Jitsu, the Zenyo Game is challenging without being overwhelming.
The process is ideal to create training that is formative and transformative.
Playing The Zenyo Game
The structure we use to shape the Zenyo Game makes training beneficial for both partners. There are four layers of constraints that focus athletes to develop their perception of opportunities for action.
Each partner takes turns helping each other. The goal is to help your partner “get moves” on you, like an armbar or choke, then work your way out. The Zenyo Game helps you put together offensive and defensive skills.
The game should be smooth and the goal is non-stop movement that you can sustain for 20 minutes to an hour. The focus is on the brains, balance and beauty of Jiu Jitsu — not just the brawn.
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Start The Game
There are four — five, really — constraints to the game.
- start in place
- start with a specific challenge
- start without strength
- start with help
- start out of place (after multiple rounds)
Start In Place
Start In Place: The Zenyo Game starts in place. You either start with the leg, neck or arm. Here, Xander tries to straighten the leg (foot) of Ayo, who is trying to work his way out.
Start With Specific Challenge
Start With Specific Challenge: From your starting place, you work to accomplish a specific challenge. Above, Caroline works to straighten the arm of Isa.
Start Without Strength
Start Without Strength: Hard training should be a small part of your Jiu Jitsu. The rest should focus on perception, timing and attention that is best developed without using strength. Here, Max works with Julia while focusing on developing his movement skill.
Start With Help
Start With Help: Everyone can use some help. In the Zenyo Game, by helping others to win, you win. Skill is developed both ways. Here, Dave helps Keith work to get into place to straighten his arm.
Advancing The Game: Start Out Of Place
Start Out Of Place: Once you understand your place and can accomplish your specific challenge, it’s time to work to put more of the pieces together. Here, Shreya works with Victoria starting from the feet and trying to get to the arm.
Putting It All Together
Everyone needs to spend a lot of their training time in the learning/growth phase, working through challenges, developing their skills around movement and perception and not worrying about mistakes or getting tapped. In fact, mistakes are essential for improvement. Making “errors” in training is a key indicator that you are stretching your abilities into new areas.
The best of the best spend a lot of their training time just this way. Skill grows, transforms, in this environment of the Zenyo Game.
Listen to what my friend and instructor, Scott Oates, who promoted me to black belt and always encouraged me to train just like in the Zenyo Game, has to say: “I never truly understood Jiu Jitsu until I put strength, speed and athleticism on the shelf temporarily … my overall understanding of Jiu Jitsu skyrocketed. I found the sensitivity I never knew existed.”
Get in the Zenyo Game and see your Jiu Jitsu transform.
The Zenyo Game: In his very first class, Mark works with Chris in the Zenyo Game. Mark has no previous Jiu Jitsu experience but is already putting together elements of Jiu Jitsu in a skillful manner that could normally take months to achieve in a traditional approach.
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“Class is amazing. Everyone that is a part of it loves the way you teach. I don’t think most of us had an experience like this before. It’s new and surprising!” Max Von Der Decken, Jiu Jitsu student at Zenyo for six years.