Rickson Gracie about Positions in BJJ and grappling

Gracie, Inosanto, Machado. Wow!

Master Rickson Gracie shared some fantastic insights on the positional strategy of Jiu Jitsu during his seminar in Amsterdam. Most jiu jitsu practitioners are familiar with the famous "Flow with the Go"*

As promised in my earlier post, I will share many of these thoughts from the Gracie Master. One that really stuck with me was his focus on positional control. Here are two Rickson Gracie quotes and his interpretation of them:

Positional strategy guidline number 1:

"When you are on the ground, only one of you two can be comfortable at any one time. Either you are comfortable or the opponent is. Your job is to transfer the comfortable from him to you in every position"

We often talk about being safe in BJJ, grappling and MMA. Saulo Ribeiro talks about it in his amazing Jiu Jitsu University book(1). In fact, he devotes his first chapter (the white belt) to sharing the principles of finding grappling positions where you are safe on the bottom before you can contemplate escaping. But Safe and Comfortable are two different things. I can be safe on top of my opponent (or even under them) in a fight or match but not necessarily comfortable. I can hug the living daylight out of you in side control (top or bottom) and prevent your attacks / escapes but I couldn't call it comfortable!

Safety means you're inhibiting your opponent's attacks / escapes while comfortable takes it to the next level where you are in fact facilitating your own attacks / escapes. Subtle difference that leads to a huge outcome. I guess that's why you go and attend a Rickson Gracie Seminar!

Positional strategy guideline number 2:

"If you do not do all the details that make the position comfortable, you might still have the (mounted) position but it will be a poor position. If you focus on these details then you will make it a "rich" position"

I love languages. I love how a concept or an idea can be expressed and encapsulated in a word. However, I also know that the same concept can be expressed slightly differently by a different individual to and jiu jitsu / grappling / Mixed Martial Arts are not exempt.

Throughout my whole martial arts career, the opposite of "poor" technique has always been "good" technique, but that, in my opinion, is a loose concept**. Good for what? How is this good measured? Good for whom?

"You will make it a "rich" position" made perfect sense because in jiu jitsu and grappling, a position's worth is often measurable:

1. I can conserve energy better
2. I can launch attacks with more ease
3. I can defend with more ease
4. I can transition to a wider spectrum of positions more easily
5. I can transition to a wider spectrum of attacks more easily
6. All my transitions from here are suddenly tighter and more precise

Here's my advice: for every position (mount, side, half guard, guard, back, standing...etc.) and transition (sweep, escape, back take, reversal...etc.) in grappling, aim to make it more comfortable and richer. Don't look for more positions and transitions. Instead, devote time, money and effort to learning more details about each.

"how do I know if I'm learning / implementing the right details?"

Easy: the details make your jiu jitsu feel more comfortable and richer.


*it is widely accepted that this was a simple slip of the tongue from the young Rickson Gracie which happened to get captured on film in "Choke".

**of course you could say the same about "rich" but I felt he opened my eyes when he said that



Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

Proudly sponsored by Predator Fightwear: Built for the kill and Brutal TShirt: Made By Grapplers For Fighters


Alan Whitton said...

Excellent post Bro!

This post is most apt for something I',m working on a an offshoot of my Fighter's Mind stuff.

You've made your thoughts and the Master's strategies clear and accessible.
Kudos to you my friend!

Roger said...

Keep it coming! Great stuff!

Liam H Wandi said...

Many thanks Roger for the kind words!

Liam H Wandi said...

Alan, I am so pleased that you liked the post and I can't wait to see what you're working on!

Kenneth Brown said...

That's a good point about the power of words. When we hear words, we make so many associations, and it really does affect how we perceive the overall message.

Liam H Wandi said...

Many thanks Kenneth. I try to be careful with my choice of words when instructing simply because I know so much can get lost in translation.

For example. I am a man. Add to that the fact that I grew up with so many languages and cultures, so I must admit that it took me ages to understand what "move your hips" translates into. Someone would say: "move your hips back" and I would kinda stare at them with a vacant look in my eyes. I'd be thinking:

1. Where are my hips? Are they here? (then I'd point towards my waist, groin, butt, lower abdomen..etc.)?
2. How the hell do you want me to move them? If someone said move your hand/foot/knee/head/shoulder...etc. I'd kinda know what to do, but move my hips??

I'm a little better now and I think my struggle has meant that I think of a couple of different ways to say the same thing before I say it :)