Don’t Be A One-Trick Pony!


It is possible to be spoiled by early success in your first year of BJJ training. At a time when personal victories (moral victories of learning from tapping only go so far) can be few and far between, a submission or specific position that works for you can understandably cause you to become obsessed with it.

Yes, we need to develop our “A Game” (more about that in a future JJT article). We need that jiu-jitsu equivalent of a knock out punch. We need to have moves that we have confidence in during a tough roll.¬†We are seduced by our early success and start to look for ONLY that position.

However, when our jiu-jitsu relies too much on a certain position for success, we become a “one trick pony”.

Our movements become very predictable. Now that our training partners know exactly what to expect in a roll, they will refuse to engage in our games and study all of the counters to our best techniques.

The less obvious is that we neglect to develop a balanced jiu-jitsu game with competence in all of the positions. Once we are forced outside of our comfort zone, we are like a fish out of water.

For example : I recall 2 students that had become “one-trick ponies”:

1) Student A fell in love with leg locks. He enjoyed some success negating the guard of more experienced students. He was not able to pass their guards, so he automatically went for the foot lock and got some taps.

But not for long.

The training partners quickly recognized his modus operandi and learned to anticipate and counter his leg locks. Once they defended the foot lock, they would advance to mount or side and Mr. Ankle Lock was helpless and quickly submitted. He had failed to develop his other positions.

2) Student B, the spider guard specialist, had some early success by using lasso and spider guard hooks to confuse his opponents. People had great difficulty passing and he found a comfort zone by just jumping to guard and fending off his partners with his open guard.

In the meantime, he had neglected takedowns and guard passing. Once he managed to sweep an opponent, you could see that he had few options from the top and often was quickly reversed right back to his guard. He would not even try to scramble to top position, defaulting to falling back into his guard.

Many top competitors are famous for certain positions: Marcelo Garcia for his back takes and guillotines, and the Mendes brothers for De la Riva and berimbolo.

But have no illusions, these guys have balanced games and are effective in any position.

By all means, sharpen your sword and get really good at your favorite position. Do not however, become seduced by early success and neglect to develop your other positions.

Read also: Don’t Get Discouraged Trying New Techniques!


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