Jiu-Jitsu: Bad Move Or Innovation?

Given my background in various martial arts, I sometimes do things that are unexpected or considered “wrong.” For example, while still a white belt I entered a blue belt division in a submission only tournament and during my first match I submitted my opponent with a wrist lock… while inside of his guard. I’ve been on both the giving and the receiving ends of submissions that are considered incorrect and “Bad Jiu Jitsu”, but in my mind and the minds of many others, if it works it’s clearly NOT wrong.

New white belts are very specifically discouraged from attacking people from inside of their guards, but at the same time going for certain submissions at certain moments while in someone’s full closed guard can actually work! There is a video circulating right now of a judoka putting a BJJ black belt to sleep with an Ezekiel choke from inside of the guard. Is it WRONG? Was the Judoka not successful with it?

While I accept that it is generally bad practice to do what that Judoka did, he was able to make it work, just like I was able to make my wrist lock work at that tournament. Things that are considered “wrong” today, if practiced and refined can become the innovations of tomorrow.

A great example of this is the history of foot locks in BJJ: Oswaldo Fadda (one of the few Non-Gracie lineages) had students who had a propensity for foot locks which were frowned upon by the Gracies, as a result his students won with these foot locks ultimately earning the Gracies’ respect. Another example is “Modern Jiu Jitsu” innovations that are frowned upon (Berimbolo, 50/50 etc…) because they leave your face exposed to strikes in a street fight. The reality is that if it works and it wins you matches there may be some value to these “wrong” moves.

The reality is, I am absolutely not encouraging a new white belt to do stupid stuff, and at the beginning everyone should listen closely to what they are being told and escape bad habits. There are such things as “bad moves” that simply will not work and will probably get you submitted, and the reality is that at the beginning even stuff that seems like it should work might not. However, as previously mentioned the innovations of tomorrow are the “bad moves” of today.


Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj and www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer


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