BJJ tips: Improving your jiujitsu beyond basic understanding and performance

"What's the best way to perform a triangle choke? How do I make my armbars from guard more effective? I want to get more success with my high percentage sweeps from (insert name) guard. What should I do?"

These are very natural questions and they're very common amongst grapplers and BJJ practitioners. Can you see a common thread in them?

They all express a desire for improvement, suggesting the asker already has some kind of understanding that they wish to improve on. Most white belts have a general idea of how to lock in the triangle choke, the straight armlock from guard or flower sweep...etc. They know at least one setup to the move(s), 3-4 details to how to make it work (angle, pressure, muscles...etc. and they add a nice dose of grrrr and they make it work. Sometimes.

They smile and think to themselves: "got that one in the bag"

"My curse, my whole life, has been that 'good enough' was never
 'good enough' for me and I only accepted 'perfect'.
Not just in Jiujitsu. In everything" Rickson Gracie. 

So when the technique suddenly reaches a threshold, the smart grappler asks herself "am I missing something here?" The technique that was working fine against people with little experience, attributes or fighting spirit suddenly doesn't work against the more advanced (or athletic or spirited) opponents. What to do?

In most cases that I have personally experienced, the cure has been a deeper dive into the technical finesses that make each Jiujitsu technique..magical!

"The best way to really understand a technique is to break it down into
further and further steps. I still do it now and when I hit a wall,
I ask my instructors Rigan and Jean Jacques Machado for more steps." John B Will

My jiujitsu sources over the years have been very rich in knowledge. From pioneering Gracies to world class competitors and coaches to highly decorated police officers. I've never forgotten that there's more to every simple fundamental Jiujitsu technique than meets the eye so the next time one of your techniques stops working, ask yourself: "how well do I know this technique and others like it?"

Grab a sheet of paper and right a move down, say, triangle choke and break it down into these components:

  • -setups and entries
  • -grips, frames and postures
  • -defences
  • -angles and distances
  • -pressures
  • -specific muscles
  • -movement patterns
  • -counters and follow-ups
  • -optimal timing and window of opportunity

Now date this sheet and make a commitment to re-visit it regularly with more steps and details until you can write a book on triangle chokes. That's when you know jiujitsu.



Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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

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