Eliminate The Unnecessary

Professor Tom DeBlass works to pass his opponents half-guard.--photo courtesy of Tom DeBlass

How many moves are there in the length and breadth of BJJ? How many guard styles alone are there?

Even if you are training every day, how much training time can you devote to the various positions if you hope to achieve any degree of real proficiency?

A daunting task for sure!

But not if you eliminate the unnecessary, focus on a limited number of techniques, and get really sharp at that smaller subset of techniques that work for you. In other words, discard the positions that you have a shallow knowledge of.

Nobody in jiu-jitsu knows everything! Watch matches of the greats like Marcelo Garcia or the Mendes Brothers and you will observe that they tend to use a smaller number of positions that they are particularly strong with.

For example, Marcelo Garcia says that he doesn’t like to use the Kimura, as he feels it is not effective against stronger opponents. Marcelo also prefers chokes without the arm inside — like d’arce and shoulder chokes — as he feels the guillotine and north-south chokes work better against larger opponents.

This philosophy isn’t only applicable to jiu-jitsu, either. Kodokan judo has more than 60 throwing techniques, but the Olympic judo competitors only use three to four of their best ones.

Remember the quote that goes something like this: “It isn’t how many different moves that you know, it is how many you can use.”

It is going to feel a little weird to make the decision to discard some positions. Shouldn’t you try to learn everything? Sure, try the position to get a basic understanding of how it works so that when it is used against you in a match, you have an idea of what is happening.

But to raise the level of your game, you need to allocate your precious and finite training time and energy to the positions that are going to have the greatest impact on your jiu-jitsu. Don’t squander drilling time on sports-specific techniques that seldom arise in a match. Get your most important positions razor sharp instead of being mediocre at everything.

One of the benefits of a coach is to guide you on what techniques to avoid. Your instructor can save you months of wasted effort of going down the wrong road in your training. My first BJJ coach made jiu-jitsu much simpler for me by steering me away from certain low percentage positions and towards solid basics.

Here are a few guidelines on how to discard certain techniques from your game.

Seek to learn a “universal” jiu-jitsu.

Focus on positions and techniques that work in all areas of BJJ – with the kimono, no-gi, and if strikes are involved. This maximizes your training time.

Take into consideration your body type.

My hobbit-like legs prevent me from triangling an opponent over 190 pounds, so on the advice of my instructor I stopped drilling triangle from the guard and switched to a more result-producing game of omoplata.

Focus on positions in which you can achieve excellence.

Are there any areas of jiu-jitsu that you just stopped using?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here