Finding Your Game

If you weren’t aware of it already, almost every jiujiteiro has a “game” of favorite positions and techniques. You probably know who they are in your academy. Who is the triangle guy? Who has the heaviest pressure and top game, and so on…

All humility aside (because I know who you don’t like to brag) you in all probability have a few techniques that your training partners have to respect or worry about getting caught in. That strength is likely the key part around which you have built your BJJ game.

How do we go about developing our individual games?

I believe that for the most part the major parts of our games “reveal themselves” to us. In your early successes on the mat certain techniques seemed easy while other equally valid techniques seemed to elude us. You may have spent the same amount of time drilling and learning the arm triangle and the kimura, but your first successful submissions all seemed to be arm triangle chokes.

Don’t fight this. Yes, we do need to correct our weaknesses, but I think the gods of jiu-jitsu have decided that you are destined to arm triangle greatness.

I have two blue belt students who have roughly the same amount of experience. Their physical types are different with one being taller and more lanky and the other quicker and shorter.

Both students attend class at roughly the same times each week and have comparable levels of fitness. Yet if we watch them training, their technique selection will be significantly different.

You might think that the two training partners should receive close to the same training advice given that their experience level is nearly the same.

They seem to naturally gravitate towards certain positions and routes. As the coach I observe their strengths and weaknesses and can provide advice on how to build on those strengths and develop their individual games.

One student is a natural at the arm triangle choke. It always seems to be there for him and so we work on entries, setups, and refinements to the basic choke. The other student just unconsciously is reaching for the kimura grip to armlock and getting it consistently. So we delve a little deeper into some grip breaks and overcoming the opponent’s counters.

I recall one top instructor saying that one of the most important factors in people staying in jiu-jitsu was experiencing success at getting some submissions early on their training. Moral victories only go so far if you feel frustrated at not being able to catch any subs.

Developing a few “knockout punch” submission equivalents to build the rest of your game around is pretty important.

Is there a submission that you experienced early success with that formed the cornerstone of your BJJ game?


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