Learn to prioritize

Learn to prioritize: Sometimes it can seem like the many details and nuances that underlie the main moves of Jiu Jitsu can be a burden when it’s time to perform them in a competitive situation. As you try to remember them all it might seem they actually slow you down and become less efficient in your movement. Understand that the information has an order of priority. There are always one or two main ideas that are most responsible for the success or failure of the move and then come all the other details, usually in an order from most important to least important. For this reason it is crucial that you be able to list the three or four main details in (rough) order of importance (this will vary somewhat from one individual to another so make the list a personal one). In this way you will learn to focus on the small number of main ideas that make it work without being burdened by trying to satisfy too many demands of you afford every detail equal priority. In this way you can get information to work FOR you instead of AGAINST you - and that’s when the game becomes fun.


When in doubt

When in doubt...Jiu Jitsu is a complicated sport with a requirement on your part to learn a lot of information - sometimes it’s a good thing to have one simple idea or directive to give direction to all that information - this can be worth its weight in gold in a stressful match situation where it’s unclear what the next move ought to be. In ashi garami based leg locks - that simple directive is always GET AS CLOSE TO YOUR OPPONENT AS YOU CAN AND STAY THERE UNTIL THE JOB IS DONE. The vast majority of your opponents defense will involves loosening the connection of your ashi garami and then pulling away to free the knee of his trapped leg. SO FOCUS ON GETTING AS CLOSE AS YOU CAN AS EARLY AS YOU CAN AND STAY THERE. Only when you stay true to this simple directive can you apply all the other stuff you need to demonstrate your growing leg lock mastery.


You can make the strongest arm weak if you put it behind an opponents back

You can make the strongest arm weak if you put it behind an opponents back: A huge part of Jiu Jitsu is the study of exploiting the inherent weaknesses of the human body. For example a sizable part of my approach to leg locking is built around the simple idea that shackling an opponents two ankles together strips him of most of the mobility required to escape the ashi garami he is caught in. Another classic example is the idea of shackling a prisoners hands behind his back - a simple insight that has successfully restrained countless strong men since the dawn of time. Try to take advantage of the fact that there is a dramatic difference between our strength potential when our arms are in front of us versus situations where are arms are pinned behind us. The most commonly seen application of this principle in Jiu Jitsu is with the kimura lock. Kimura is often disparaged as a strong mans move - but if you can reliably get the opponents hand behind his back you can apply it very well on the strongest of opponents. Here, Craig Jones does a fine job of quickly getting an opponents hand behind his back to set up many potential attack options and completely robbing his opponents arm of any strength.


When you encounter resistance - do you see closed doors or open doors?

When you encounter resistance - do you see closed doors or open doors? If there is one thing you can safely assume in combat sports it is that every opponent you ever face will resist every move you try upon him with as much tenacity and skill as he can muster. RESISTANCE TO EVERYTHING WE ATTEMPT is the basic feature of all combat sports and the thing that makes them realistic and effective. Now when you encounter resistance to your moves, your mind can react in two ways. The first is natural, but undesirable. This is to feel frustration and a sense of failure that your opponent identified the threat you created and stymied it. The second is created through training and is highly desirable. This is to see the resistance as a pathway to new attacking possibilities elsewhere. An opponent cannot close one door without opening others - YOU MUST HAVE FAITH IN THIS! Your job is to identify the new possibilities and act on them promptly. Here, Nicky Ryan has had an initial attempt at an arm drag partially stopped by an opponent - just a second after this photo was taken he had already gone into two subsequent attacks en route to victory. What do you see here? Where would you go? Could you do it under the pressure of match conditions within the time available? These are the questions you must constantly ask yourself on your march towards your Jiu Jitsu goals


The three routes to victory in combat sports

The three routes to victory in combat sports - the first is to have such PERFECT EXECUTION of technique that it can be known and anticipated by an opponent but he simply cannot stop it (this usually requires a skill and/or athletic disparity (speed,strength or size) between the two athletes. - The second is based on SYSTEMATIC CONTROL where the idea is to have such a an elaborate system of set ups, controlling grips and positions that an opponent is gradually funneled into an ever more controlling predicament that increasingly limits his defensive options until escape becomes virtually impossible (this is typically only possible when extreme control and a slower pace is available which usually means ground techniques).
The third is to be able to DECEIVE an opponent as to what your real intentions are and achieve a breakthrough via feint/fake/misdirection that creates an opening or weakness that can be exploited before he can detect the ruse and create an effective resistance (this is typically done more in speed based elements of combat sports usually standing techniques where speed is far easier to generate than on the ground).
Study all three methods - you will need them to break through against knowledgeable opponents.


There is a strong relationship between guard passing and taking an opponents back

There is a strong relationship between guard passing and taking an opponents back: We normally think of passing an opponents guard to the side, or occasionally to mount; but some of the most commonly occurring and profitable opportunities come in situations where opponents turn into defensive turtle positions to prevent giving up passing points. YOU MUST BE ABLE TO CAPITALIZE UPON THESE OPPORTUNITIES!! Not only can you potentially score more points with a back take than a guard pass, but in addition you are now in the single best finishing position in the sport. Keep you eyes open for the back when passing!!! Be ready to capitalize immediately upon the great opportunities in front of you!!


My favorite way to pass guard

My favorite way to pass guard: There are many effective ways to pass an opponents guard, each has their good and bad points - but if I had only one way to pass guard for the rest of my life I would unquestionably choose the method of FORCING MY WAY TO HALF GUARD AND PASSING FROM HALF GUARD. Of all the methods out there, this is in my experience the most versatile and the most high percentage. It works equally well gi or no gi, grappling and fighting. All my students excel at it and it figures very heavily in their passing game. No other method of passing can create such direct pressure upon the opponents head, which is a big part of why it is so successful in world championship competition. Next time you get stymied in a tricky guard, break it into two steps - force your way forward into half guard and then pass from there!


If you understand exactly what the main underlying body movement patterns of Jiu Jitsu are - you can shut them down

If you understand exactly what the main underlying body movement patterns of Jiu Jitsu are - you can shut them down - and if you can shut down the MOVEMENTS, then you can shut down the MOVES. The vast majority of the moves from bottom position, everything from pin escapes, guard retention, sweeps etc etc all involve the body movement of SHRIMPING (in its various manifestations). It stands to reason then, that if you study exactly what is required to shrimp your body, then you will know exactly what it is required to shut it down; and if you can shut down shrimping, you will have shut down any move from bottom position that is reliant upon shrimping to work. Shrimping always has three key elements. A planted foot, a moving hip and a moving head. If you can subvert any of those three elements, you can shut down the movement overall and any subsequent moves that were based on it. This is why I put a heavy emphasis upon learning the underlying solo body movements of Jiu Jitsu - not as a boring and fruitless warm up before class - but as a specialized study in its own right. Understand the movements and you can grasp how to shut them down. Shut down the movement and this shut down an opponents moves. Here, Nicky Rod does a good job stopping a shrimping movement at the head and hips to prevent any effective defense to his passing attack.


My philosophy of attack in Jiu Jitsu can be stated in a single sentence

My philosophy of attack in Jiu Jitsu can be stated in a single sentence. Learn to attack the whole body with equal efficacy from top or bottom position, but if you have a choice, favor the back above all.


When you have a good position - TAKE YOUR TIME

When you have a good position - TAKE YOUR TIME: One of the traits of good Jiu Jitsu players is that they know when they have to hustle and when they can slow things down. A great skill that you need to develop is that of CONSOLIDATION. When you get a good position - LET THE POSITION DO THE WORK FOR YOU. The only time you should be working hard is when you don’t have a good position. The whole purpose of good position is that it creates a situation where the other guy has to do more work than you do. If you are working harder than him when you are winning something is wrong. Next time you get a position take your physical tension down a notch and switch your effort to the mental game of plotting your next move. As the body relaxes, the mind gets more active and it’s the mind that will guide you to your next step.