Understanding the concepts of jiu jitsu may, in the long run, be more
important than simply learning a multitude of techniques. I’m not saying learning
techniques is not important, but understanding the concepts will allow you to still
be doing jiu jitsu in the scrambles and chaos of a fight where setting up and
hitting specific techniques can be difficult.
Here are three concepts that I believe are easy to explain, easy to
understand, and easy to apply to your grappling. You have probably already been
introduced to some of these ideas but with different terminology. I’ve given them
labels and used verbiage that I think make them easy to explain and understand.
LEGOS: If you have two small rectangular Legos there’s a dozen ways you
can try to press them together that will result in zero connectivity. Even when the
right surfaces of the Lego pieces are facing each other, if they are not properly
aligned, there will be no connection. But if get they positioned and aligned
correctly they will snap together…. where one goes, the other goes…whatever
direction one turns, the other will follow. This is the kind of connectivity you are
looking for when you are, for example, using hooks to control your training
partner. I like to use x-guard as an illustration. Typically, you will have your top leg
with the knee sticking out behind your opponent and your foot in front of his
thigh, while your bottom leg is in the opposite position with your foot behind
their lower leg. If your feet and toes are curled with your toes up to “make a
hook” and your top foot is planted firmly in the pocket of your hip and groin while
your bottom foot is planted firmly in the crook behind your opponent’s knee you
should have pretty good connection. With these two points of contact you will
now have the ability to control and manipulate your opponent. How will this help
you now? The most obvious answer is that you can control and/or manipulate
your opponent’s posture, base, and balance. Additionally, it will help you to
control the timing and tempo of the match and maintain the distance of your
choosing. Bruce Lee once said, “All other things being equal, the fighter that
controls timing, tempo, and distance will win the fight”. The Lego theory, or
connectivity, will help you do that.
The Push/Pull concept: The underlying principle here is leverage. The pushing and
pulling (or more accurately and simply stated – applying force at two points in the
opposite direction) is how the leverage is generated. Most joint lock submissions
rely on the effective use of leverage as does moving your opponent. When you’re
standing and you pull on your opponent’s right arm while pushing on his left
shoulder you are using leverage to turn him, off balance him, and move him
where you want him to go. How will this help you now? Mechanically speaking,
using a lever makes work easier. In other words, it’s efficient. As a training
session, match, or fight proceeds the more efficient athlete will have more gas in
the tank to finish.
Compass quadrants: Imagine you are lying on your back on the mats—your head
represents north and your feet represent south with your arms to the east and
west. Between these points you have a NE, SE, SW, and NW quadrant. All you
have to do to sweep your opponent is to element a post in one of these
quadrants and then dump your opponent into it. How will this help you now? The
percentage of sweeps you finish will go up and the effort it takes to finish them
will decrease. Maybe most importantly though, you will start to see (and hit)
sweeps in transitions. During a scramble you may notice overly committed in one
direction with most of his weight on the post in that direction: Delete that post
and dump your opponent in that direction…..SWEEP!!!
In conclusion: Learning one technique from one position will improve your
game today…. as long as you can get to that one position, but grasping a concept
can improve your game today no matter what positions you find yourself in.
Train Hard. Train Smart. Get Better.