At a seminar I recently taught, two of the white belt students said that, while they loved training jiu-jitsu, they felt overwhelmed at times.
With so many positions and multiple techniques for each of those positions, it was information overload for them! It was a daunting task indeed to try to make sense of this giant pile of information.
To the beginner, BJJ may appear to be a huge collection of individual moves. Getting to black belt is a matter of memorizing all of those moves, right?
Let’s turn chaos into order by understanding a key concept: the Positional Hierarchy of Jiu-Jitsu:
Knee on Belly
Guard TopGuard Bottom
Turtle Top / Turtle Bottom
Half Guard Bottom
Side control Bottom
Knee on Belly Bottom
Rear mount Bottom
This is a way of understanding where each of the opponents are at any point in a roll. Once you can identify the positions, you need to develop an understanding of what each person is trying to do in that position. For example, inside the closed guard, the top person is trying to maintain base and the correct posture to pass the guard.
Once you understand the basic idea of where you are and what your strategy is — for example, pass the guard and progress to the next higher position on the Positional Hierarchy — then you need a move to accomplish that task.
This is where your instructor is invaluable in providing instruction in the mechanics of the basic techniques that have been battle tested and proven. It is your job to drill those basic techniques to the point where you can remember them while rolling and execute them with some degree of competence.
A useful rule of thumb might be to get two solid moves for each of the positions on the Positional Hierarchy. That should equip you to start to roll effectively.
When you are watching people roll in class, observe them critically and ask yourself, “In what position is that student in the Positional Hierarchy? What should they be trying to do to improve their position? What are my two best moves from that position?”
That should help make BJJ a little less confusing.
Read also on Jiu-Jitsu Times: BJJ 101: “I Always Forget My Moves!”
Thank you. As a newer white belt, I find this information very helpful.