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The Role of Strategy in Jiu-jitsu

jiu jitsu and strategy
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One of the best things about traiing jiu-jitsu if the mental stimulation that you get from being a student of something again. It is fun to learn new things and it is even more fun to apply them in ways where you can get real-time feedback. Seeing yourself progress is the best feeling no matter what medium you use. In the martial art of Brazilain jiu-jitsu, strategy plays a huge role and I think it is one of the main reasons why high-performing people LOVE martial art.

CEOs, world-class thinkers, artists, movie stars, and millions of regular people are using jiu-jitsu as their main way of exercise. Not only does everyone find it fun, but they also find it mentally stimulating. In 99% of cases, no one is going to volunteer themselves to get choked out or smashed by someone on the mats, but people come back. Again and again. 

A Game of Chess on the mats

One of the first things you notice when you get the training wheel off of training jiu-jitsu is how mentally stimulating the martial art is. Truly. 

It came to kind of shock me when I started to actually start to understand what was going on. There are so many ways to move and ways to set people up just by positioning yourself in a specific way. If you ever find yourself scavanging on the web to learn more about jiu-jitsu, you will often times see it being referred to as “human chess”, but what does that truly mean?

In chess, two players are dueling in a mental game that consists of moving pieces on a board. Each move is a move that has strategy behind it, make one wrong move and your opponent may just capitalize. Typically, it is not one move that will screw you over, it will be the move that you made 5 moves back.

Much like chess, jiu-jitsu has the same underlying principles, except instead of using pieces on a board, you are using your body on the mat.

When you start o really get into jiu-jitsu (showing up more consistently) you start to gamify it. I believe that trying to find your own style of play is the pursuit that makes wanting my black belt the best. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is an art form and you can see that in the styles of play that start to sprout in the gym you train at. Everyone has their own way of using the techniques to their advantage and allow the martial art to blossom into something beautiful.

Fundamentals of Jiu-Jitsu: Timing and Control

Body control and timing are everything in jiu-jitsu.

In a scramble, you may find yourself in a less favorable position just because your opponent had higher hips than you. Or maybe you did not post on your hand fast enough to react to the sweep you just performed and your opponent finds a way to regain themselves.

Its all a game of timing and control.

When you learn to master and manipulate the way your body moves you can truly start to see your BJJ game grow. The last coach that I trained with was a master of controlling his body weight and applying pressure that would make a grown man squirm. When you really start to look into the details of some of these high-level athletes for things like applying pressure on an opponent you can take the little tid bits and really learn how to punish people on the mats.

You haven’t lived until you have experienced the humbling moment a 15-year-old throws you on the ground and makes you their toy for 5 minutes.

First off, it’s extremely humbling. And second, you learn really quickly the levels of skill that are in place when you are doing this. No one, and I mean NO ONE, on the streets is prepared for something like the timing and pressure that can be applied from using jiu-jitsu. This skill can and will translate far outside of the mats.

Countering & Setups

Set ups and counters are fun to think about but really a hard topic to write about but lets try it anyways.

when I start rolling with someone new or even someone I have rolled with before, I always try to bait something I know I can escape out of or end up in a favorable position. If my opponent falls for the bait, I capitalize and try to go for the submission.

When you start rolling with people with higher belts than you, it may get tricky because on one end you want to end up in a dominant place but just end up getting stuck defending.

Constantly tinker and adjust your game so that you can find ways to counter and set up people for your own liking. John Danahar, one of the greatest jiu-jitsu coaches on the planet, says a great offense is created through having a world-class defense that reigns true.

While practicing with higher belts can become a game of you just not trying to get submitted, the better you are able to fend off attacks the more well-rounded you become thus allowing you to set up and counter more effectively.

Analyzing and LEARNING from high level Matches

When I started watching the high-level athletes matches I really started to appreciate the martial art so much more. Simply going on Youtube you can find all the great athletes of this time going at it and showcasing high-levels of skill in just the minute movements and adjustments they make with their bodies.

Professional athletes are amazing to watch. I found myself respecting MMA fighters and high-level jiu-jitsu athletes much more after I started training BJJ myself. It is fun to know the names of the moves that they are performing and apply what they do to my game. Spending 5 – 10 minutes just watching reruns can help you take your game to the next level.

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  • Cameron Allen

    Cameron is the Founder of Grapplers Graveyard. He is an entrepreneur, athlete, and life-long learner. His goal is to build businesses that help people become smarter, healthier, and happier. Avid Cold Plunger, Blue Belt, and Tech Sales Professional who has a passion for building websites.

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