Grey zones

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Grey zones: When we begin Jiu Jitsu we are immediately given a clear sense of good and bad position that make a lot of sense and which is easy to understand. The good positions all involve getting your opponent’s legs and controlling him from front on top or behind either underneath or on top of him. In these situations everything is black and white. A position that is good for me is bad for the other guy and vice versa. Once you go deeper into the sport you find that the vast majority of your time is spent in ambiguous positional grey zones where neither athlete has a definite advantage and you always feel that you are half a second away from some kind of positional profit or loss. It can be of great help in these situations to have some general guidelines, heuristic rules that give you some sense of direction in these grey areas. They should be precise enough to give directions but vague enough to give you flexibility and adaptability for chaotic situations. Look at this photo with Garry Tonon at work. What simple rules would you offer the bottom athlete? What pithy advice would you offer the top athlete? How general is that advice? Could you apply to yourself tomorrow in training and profit from its use? As helpful as the basic positional rules of Jiu Jitsu are, you must start the journey of going beyond them into the grey zones – the answers are never as certain but the potential rewards are huge.6

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