The problem is this. Many years ago, as a purple belt, I wrote a syllabus from white to blue. And I think it came to 140 plus moves! It was comprehensive for the knowledge that I had at the time, and was designed to produce a student with a pretty well rounded game.
However, it gets harder as I went up ranks, and tried to design a syllabus to purple, now to brown and black. Why? Because with each belt progression, I found myself looking at my understanding of BJJ with a completely new light and paradigm.
There is just so many things that I think a BJJ student should know, but there is so many approaches to it. Let me explain my personal path.
As a white belt, I took weekly privates from my instructor, John Will, and I was always researching and focusing on learning techniques. I was primarily a technique collector, which was why probably I took longer than my peers to get my blue belt (took me 2 years). I had too many moves to choose from, and took me some time to develop my game.
As a blue belt, after a year as a blue in Australia, I came back to Malaysia and started the first BJJ class in Malaysia in 2002. I guess at that stage, I was still a technique collector. However, by teaching I started experimenting with my students. As most of my students were Asian, they were not as strong as what I was used to in my club in Australia. So besides simply collecting techniques blindly, some selective refining and culling of techniques were necessary.
This was also the belt I started to develop a guard. I was primarily a top player before that.
As a purple, I started experimenting with movement drills, relaxing under pressure, this was where I experimented and stopped caring about getting tapped by my students. Purple belt for me was about movement, what leads to where, trying to answer every problem by finding a solution by moving. I intentionally wanted to sample my student's games, getting myself into trouble and trying to feel my way out.
Movement was not simply about escapes, but also flowing from one submission to the next, how opponents move. This also includes studying how champions move, and trying to emulate certain movements as a whole.
Brown belt was interesting. I stumbled upon some judo concepts as well as went more in depth in my understanding about leverage, posture, balance as thought in BJJ. My newer students (under the last 4 years) would acknowledge my teachings at this period was quite alot about spinal structure, body mechanics.
I experimented these, proving to myself that simply by using structure you can neutralize strength and explosiveness, and when grappling, there is more focus on what is the goal to be achieved. By learning to target the posture and balance, structural integrity of your opponent, you spend less wasted energy in an unfocused manner.
As I was thinking bio-mechanically, it answered alot of my questions about difficulties with positions and submissions that some were having, and others were not. And most times, the answer was pretty simple once you understand the differences in body type and adjust accordingly.
It also helped me understand deeply the different types of guard at a fundamental level, especially the newer guards.
As black belt, I have been deconstructing techniques and positions, reassembling them and, up to the level of my current understanding, improving techniques for them to work nearly 100% of the time.
Hence my revision of guillotine chokes, rear naked chokes, kimuras, armbars, leg locks etc etc. These are the techniques thought completely differently from what I used to teach years ago.
The idea is to tighten and improve your submission without releasing or changing grips and positions, with as minimal movement as possible.
So, if one was to follow my progression, having a broad enough technique base is important. You need to have a well rounded game before you have reference points to slot in new moves to your game, as well as be able to delve deeper into different aspects of your game.
As for my syllabus, what can I say. Technique basic requirements are important, and relatively easy to write up for up to blue belt level. But many things beyond that are student specific. Of course some concepts and drills can be thought and written down, but most other things involve just a simple correction, a deeper understanding in a concept, a shift of angle, weight, posture.
So if I were to write a book, like most books of BJJ, technique fills pages, and probably will sell better. While some of the more advanced stuff may be explained in only a page or paragraph.
This is why most descriptions of Rickson Gracie seminars are vague and nearly incomprehensible to those that didn't attend. His Invisible Jiu Jitsu seminars are probably wasted on blue belts and below, as most of the stuff he is showing require you to have an understanding of Jiu Jitsu already.
So that is roughly my progression through the ranks, and the different viewpoints throughout the years. This clearly can be seen over the different generation of students I have had over the years too. You can tell which "batch" they are by their style of grappling.
This has been my experience and this may not be the same for all black belts.
That is not to say I don't still do the other things I used to do at different belt levels. If anything, now I run any new knowledge through my different approaches.
I still collect techniques (have to keep up with the current games being played)
I still like to play around with movement (and try to solve problems using movement)
I still like to play with body structure and mechanics (both to disrupt my opponent, or keep myself safe)
And I am constantly thinking about ways of making techniques and positions better.
Anyway, these are just some ramblings of a reserved black belt.
Safe training and have a good 2014!