Oct 19

Piecing It All Together in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

Piecing It All Together in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

For several years now, I’ve been reducing computer systems to many bits and pieces then putting them all back together again with new parts. It’s one of my jobs.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about that process and how it relates to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Now, I’m going to share my thought process with you, and I’m sure that you will gain from the experience.

The Reduction Phase

I’m not going to get too technical here because it’s not necessary, but take a moment and look at your computer.

Now imagine that it was in pieces. If you didn’t include all the screws, you may end up with like 10-20 parts roughly. That number of course would increase quite significantly if you did include the screws.

Anyway, you have all these diverse parts, laying spread out on the table. They all have different functions, but you can group them into general categories.

For this little exercise, those categories will be based on how possible it is to use that particular part in a totally different system. A quick example is a hard drive. If you went out and bought one today, there would be a high degree of probability that it would work in your system.

Of course that’s assuming that you didn’t buy a laptop hard drive for your desktop…. But you wouldn’t do that.

So you have the hard drive on one side of the spectrum, and then on the other side would be the large plastics and metals.

In this situation, where there are two extremes. Which should you focus on in order to get the most bang for your buck?

The answer should be obvious.

If you focus on the large plastics and metals of a particular system, you may get really good in that area, but how much of that knowledge would be transferable to different systems? Obviously, it would be nowhere near as much as you could if you had focused on hard drives.

The same principle applies in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. There are different pieces of the puzzle that have greater overall value.

A real quick example is the shrimp movement. That basic movement is applicable in countless techniques. So if you master that one movement, your overall skill level will increase greater than if you had mastered a movement that had a far smaller area of effect.

This is a simple and intuitive concept, and I hope that this little break/fix exercise helped to remind you of it.

Starting the Process

Let’s go back to looking at all those computer parts flung out on the table.

We’ve had our fun and took it all apart, but now the time has come to put it all back together again. Psh, that’s not fun at all.

The thing is that in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, we are always in the process of putting it together. In scale, the many pieces of a disassembled computer pale in comparison to all the diverse pieces that exist in the art.

It’s amazing when you think about it since not only are there countless parts and pieces that can go into your own unique puzzle but the number is increasing every day.

Access to knowledge has also increased. It’s far easier now to be exposed to massive amounts of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu from the comfort of your home than it was years ago.

So you have to discern what’s useful and what’s not. Of course, that’s very subjective, so let’s see if we can help with that process.

Earlier, we talked about the idea of movements that can be applied to many techniques. That same idea also applies to concepts. Personally, I like to think of it as a simple equation:

Concept + Movement = Technique.

One thing that I’ve noticed in my own learning process is that it is far easier for me to retain knowledge when I already know at least one part of the equation. An example would be learning a new technique that utilizes the granby roll movement.

In that situation, it was easier for me to learn the whole technique because I had already learned a part of it beforehand. This is another illustration of why it helps to focus on learning concepts and movements that have large areas of effect.

The Sum of All Parts

Now let’s switch gears a little. We’re going to focus on the combination of diverse techniques now.

I find the methods used to teach Brazilian Jiu-jitsu to extremely interesting, and I’ve had the opportunity to see several different teaching methods. One thing that I’ve noticed is a disparity with how Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is generally taught and how it works.

Now, I understand the reason for that, and a part of it is based on the audience. The situation leaves primarily three possibilities though if you want to be truly good:

  • You have to learn combinations through the osmosis of rolling often.
  • You have to have the good fortune of having a instructor who helps you link diverse techniques together.
  • You have to take responsibility for your own training and think about ways to combine techniques.

All of those options are perfectly valid, and you don’t have to choose one. You can definitely take the all of the above approach. It’s essential though that you understand that you have to figure out how to use technique in combination rather than isolation.

Consider this simply a reminder.