Is your jiu jitsu predictable or unpredictable?

To me, one of the most important aspects of jiu-jitsu is learning to be unpredictable.  As time progresses, winning is far less important to me than understanding the mechanics of motion and learning ways to go outside of what other people expect me to do.  It may not be the smartest goal, it may not be the best goal, and this goal may change in the future, but for right now the attribute that I am focusing on developing most is being unpredictable.

As I learn to be unpredictable, I find that there are actually ways to fine tune that aspect of one’s game.  For starters, when you drill, try to find submission entries in transitions.  The easiest example of this for me is setting up submissions while recovering guard.  Very often when I see people work on guard recovery, they recover guard and that’s it. What if mid recovery you capture the other person’s arm?  Suddenly that transition becomes far more unpredictable for an opponent.

Another way to be unpredictable is improving your balance and weight distribution.  This may sound like something that is simple “good jiu-jitsu” but if you’re suddenly much heavier than your opponent is expecting you to be, you can put him in uncomfortable and unexpected positions and situations.  Very often, if I can feel a sweep before it happens, I can not only stop that sweep, but use it to put the other person in a bad spot.

Predictability can be detrimental in competition if your opponent is familiar with you.  It can also be a useful weapon.  Sometimes, if I am in a fairly deep division, I will use a specific strategy in my first two or three matches, and then will switch it up.  Often that switch will cause my next opponent to mess up because he will be prepared for the same strategy but will be met with a different one.

If you don’t hone multiple weapons for multiple scenarios, you are doing yourself a disservice.  I’ve seen practitioners who are deadly in certain positions and situations, but completely useless if they can’t get in those positions and situations.  Generally speaking if you can’t make many positions dangerous for the other person, your game will inevitably be predictable.

Is your jiu-jitsu predictable?  Can opponents figure you out by watching a couple of your matches?  Do your teammates pretty much know what to expect every time they roll with you?

If you answered yes to these questions it’s time to change up your game a bit.

Unpredictability is one of the best weapons you can develop in jiu-jitsu.

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Emil Fischer is an active black belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio ( and teaching at Ararat Martial Arts and FItness Center. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, North Coast Cryo ( NottaRookie, YM ( discount code COOKIES), Defense Soap ( discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards ( discount code EMILIMPACT), and North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear


    • That was my goal for a while, and still is SOMETIMES. But I prefer for their reaction to be more along the lines of “how the hell did he knee bar me off of the guillotine” or something like that… I prefer befuddlement to frustration.


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