Starting with a skill set – the example of a Nicky Rod: A situation I often see as a coach is that of a talented athlete from another sport such as wrestling, Judo or Sambo coming into Jiu jitsu. It’s natural to want to use and adapt your skills to the new game. This conversion can be done fairly quickly and easily and usually gets good results. My belief however, is that it will rarely get you GREAT results. You have to go further and learn new skills from the bottom up in your new sport if you really want to become exceptional. A good example is that of Nicky Rod. He was a high school wrestler – he also did a year in D3 college – so he had a solid enough background in wrestling without being anything exceptional. Whenever you’re in this situation it’s natural to just train in Jiu jitsu so as to exploit this initial skill set that you have. So wrestlers will often just work submission defense and look to develop a game that lets them win on their primary skill – takedowns. This will win you matches at local level but will never get you to championship level. To do that you have to immerse yourself in the new game you are studying. It’s not easy to give up a strength and work on a weakness. It’s so much easier just to stay within the safety of your strength. Nicky Rod did a fine job of practicing in new skill areas – guard position, submission holds and guard passing. It showed this weekend when he took on the great Yuri Simoes. Yuri is one of only three people who have won two gold medals in two weight classes in ADCC (Gordon Ryan and Jeff Monson are the other two). Most people thought Nicky Rod’s only path to victory was through wrestling takedowns. Even though Yuri is one of the best takedown artists in Jiu jitsu he intelligently sat to guard to deny what most people thought was the only way Nicky Rod could win. What happened next was shocking for many observers. Nicky Rod went immediately on the offense with a pure Jiu jitsu skill – guard passing. In fact there was almost zero wrestling in this match. It was won with Jiu jitsu skills. It was a fine example of immersion in a new sport winning at high levels – an example many others can learn and profit from