When it comes to jiu jitsu I’m extremely “concept” orientated. I believe that after you’ve learned the basics of each position and a few moves from each position, understanding a few basic concepts can do so much more for your jiiu jitsu than simply continuing to collect random techniques. Defending the primary threat is an example of a concept that, when implemented can improve your game from many different positions in a short period of time.
Defending the primary threat is a concept that I spent a good deal of time focusing on as a white belt shortly before receiving my blue. Identifying the primary threat from most of the positions I found myself in and figuring out ways to defeat them made a dramatic difference in my rate of progression. Lets’ look at a couple of examples that will illustrate what I mean by “defending the primary threat”.
First, the primary threat from any given position might not be the same for every jiu jitsu practitioner. If when in your opponent’s guard you are consistently being swept by the scissor sweep or variations of it or you are constantly fighting the cross-collar choke then the cross-collar grip is probably the primary threat you need to be concerned with. Conversely, if you are constantly being arm barred of swept, swept with the flower sweep, or having your back taken off an arm drag then having your arm dominated and your elbow pulled across your center line is the primary sweep. You can learn and drill all the guard breaks and passes in the world, but if you don’t learn to defend these primary threats you will always struggle inside your opponents closed guard.
A few other examples really quick: If from bottom half guard or when shrimping from bottom side control to recompose your guard you are getting choked with guillotines and similar chokes then the primary threat to defend is your opponent getting his arms in position to execute the choke — i.e. defend your neck. If from top half guard your opponent is getting the under hook and sweeping your or taking your back then obviously your opponent getting that under hook is the primary threat that must be defended.
This concept can be applied from the offensive perspective as well. If you have found that bottom half guard with the under hook is a position you are having a lot of success from then getting that under hook should be your main objective. If you like working from top side mount you need to keep your opponent on his back so you may want to consider that getting the cross face and blocking the hips are some of your main objectives.
In closing: Do you want to get better at jiu jitsu fast? Start looking at the concepts that make it work. If you’re new to the idea of “concepts” talk to your coach or experienced grapplers in your gym. There are also a ton of online resources available as well. Check them out.
Train hard. Train smart. Get better.