A very important aspect of technical grappling is “slowness.” By slowness, I mean timing your movements so that you don’t have to move quickly, but merely at the right moment. Very often I see newer or more aggressive grapplers trying to use fast, spastic movements to deal with their opponents or training partners, and this has limited efficacy and almost no efficiency. What goes into improving your “slowness”?
For starters, figure out where you need to be and what needs to happen to get you there. For example: when passing the guard, determine where your training partner/opponent needs to be to mount an intelligent attack, and where you need to be to mount an intelligent attack. Knowing where you need to be will make being there that much easier.
In jiu jitsu, grip acquisition, retention and negation are crucial to being able to move “slowly.” Connection to the other person is very often established through grips, learn to read the other person’s intentions through their subtle movements rather than having to deal with them once they’re already moving.
A body in motion is easier to keep in motion than a body at rest. This applies in two different ways. For starters, if you have a solid position and then decide to try to improve that position without first establishing grips to negate the other person’s counter attack, escaping or even worse. On the other side, when your opponent or training partner has already dropped pressure on you, moving is difficult. Escapes and transitions are best executed while the other person is trying to go for a transition.
The sharper a technique is executed when done slowly, the more effective it will be when done quickly. I’ve heard the various versions of the saying: “if you can’t do it slow, chances are you won’t be able to do it fast.” This is so true when it comes to grappling. The reality is that if you need to do something fast in order to make it work, it won’t work on people who are faster than you. If you sharpen a technique to where you can do it slowly on EVERYONE, it will work on everyone.
If you move slowly and deliberately while rolling, you will give your training partners ample opportunities to stop you from executing your techniques. You will also perform your techniques much more smoothly. The key benefit of this is that you will be forced to improve upon techniques you already know. Every aspect of your movement will have to be more intelligent for you to be successful while rolling.
Moving slowly isn’t good for the ego. You’ll feel like you’re getting beaten by guys who, if you were moving quickly, you’d be able to beat. Moving quickly is fine for tournaments, but if you can’t move slowly in the gym someone faster but not as good at jiu jitsu as you could wind up beating you in a tournament. Develop your techniques while moving slowly so that when you move quickly the techniques flow freely.