Technique

Finding moves in negative spaces

When you are first learning moves in jiu-jitsu you often are taught how to exploit bad habits.  From the mount you are taught the spinning armbar in response to your partner trying to bench you off.  From the guard you are taught how to kimura or bump-sweep when your partner puts their hands on the mat.  These techniques share a common thread: you are assuming your partner is doing something wrong.

Jiu-Jitsu is often compared to chess, and this is one of those times where the comparison is apt.  Beginners are more likely to make mistakes and so the person who gets a submission is most likely the person capitalizing on their partner’s mistakes.  But, just like in chess, as time goes on you’ll find your partners less likely to make mistakes.  The rolls become more and more about finding the perfect timing, misdirection – and if mistakes do happen jumping at the chance to exploit them because they might not come again.

Ok – so whats the point?  Well, if as a beginner your instruction begins with “an unskilled person will do X” then as an advanced practitioner you’ll start to hear “a really good player will do Y.”  When your instructor says these words your ears better perk up and you need to start paying attention!

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