ju jitsu

Welcome to a new weekly post with 3 random thoughts on all things guitar, music, and life, including lessons from Ju Jitsu, how to fix it if you’re feeling frustrated, and tips on converting chords. Here we go…


#1 – Fixing frustration

Here’s a question for you.

What happens when one of your guitar practice sessions goes badly?

…Or a song you are playing just doesn’t click, even though you could play it pretty well the day before?


Some people get annoyed, some people let their blood begin to boil…

…and others want to smash the guitar up (ever seen the video of the “World’s Angriest Guitarist”?)

If you ever feel like this, stop, take a deep breath, and try to relax.


It’s hard when things don’t go well, but taking a few moments to breathe deeply makes all the difference.

I’d often push students pretty hard in lessons (I had to, as it would be one long week before seeing them again).

…but I’d constantly look out for their frustration points.

When I could see frustration starting to creep in, I’d stop them, chat about something random, make some jokes, and we’d have a laugh.

Often, this short 1-2 minute break could make all the difference.


Of course, try not to let yourself get frustrated, but realise it will happen from time to time

When it does, stop, breathe, and relax.

Then, when you go back to the piece you were working on, slow it down, work on it in smaller chunks and get right back to making more progress.


#2 – A lesson from Brazilian Ju Jitsu

Last week, I started a new class in Brazilian Ju Jitsu.

This is something I’ve been itching to do for a while.

It’s a fun and exhausting martial art which is based around grappling, submissions, and groundwork rather than striking.


I like it for those reasons.

…And you can disarm an opponent much bigger and stronger than you with the right technique and nuance.

One thing that was clear very quickly was that there is a big emphasis on technique rather than brute force.

Guess where I’m going with this…


Yes, the guitar is the same.

Technique beats force every day of the week.

If you play any notes on your guitar with precision and accuracy, you will find excessive force isn’t necessary.


It’s like when a guy about four stone heavier than me got me in a choke and then got thrown to the ground with just a few precise moves (this was just training though, to be fair).

If I tried to “fight” him and battle, I’d have lost.

Playing guitar is the same.

Be a Ju Jitsu guitarist and use precision and accuracy as much as you humanly can.


#3 – Converting chords

If you ever want to get good at understanding theory, you can try this:

Take a song you already know how to play and play it using different chords.

“How do you do this?” you might ask.


Well, a simple way is to learn a little theory and use a capo.

For example, if a song uses the chords of – C G Am F…

…You can stick a capo on at fret 5 and play it using the chords of G D Em C.


It keeps the song in the same key but changes up the flavour and tone of the chords.

I used to do “paired” lessons where I would teach two students at once.

In these lessons, I’d often get one to play it the first way and the other to play it the second way.


Some preferred playing it the second way, and they found the chords easier like that.

It was also fun to jam and having the song played in two slightly different ways added depth to the song and got them better at different chord progressions.

Plus, when I got them to work out how to play it like this, it helped them to understand theory more.


It’s not easy getting your head around this stuff at first, but my theory book helps clear all this up in a few ways, and of course, it’s written specifically for guitarists who are new to theory.

All those who join the Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy get a free paperback copy of it, so you can leave it on your coffee table and pick it up as and when you want to dip in and out of it.

Find out more about The Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy


Enjoy your Tuesday!

Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

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