Theory

Tactics in BJJ: Are you playing checkers instead of chess?

The subject of BJJ and chess is one I have written about before.  I think the subject is worthy of further attention because the metaphor is such an alluring one – but pinching metaphors until they squeal is all too easy.

Recently my coach made a comment about a roll, saying that one person was playing chess while the other was playing checkers.  For the sake of science, discovery, curiosity, and pedantry, I’m going to attempt to unpack all that is contained within this statement.

Continue reading “Tactics in BJJ: Are you playing checkers instead of chess?”

Theory

The Importance of Friends in BJJ

In a recent podcast with Grappling Central, my coach, Sam, mentioned that if you aren’t enjoying your jiu jitsu school or if you’re thinking about trying a new school – try changing your social group at your current school first.  While I’m pretty happy with my jiu jitsu friends right now, I have experienced a few different social groups in jiu jitsu.  Also, our jiu jitsu holiday party was last night, which got me thinking about the importance of jiu jitsu friends.

Continue reading “The Importance of Friends in BJJ”

Theory

How BJJ is like Chess: The Power of the Fork

Jiu-jitsu and chess are often compared to one another – usually in an attempt to justify the intellectual qualities of jiu-jitsu more than to demonstrate the physical qualities of chess.  But is this comparison apt?  In some very real ways jiu-jitsu and chess are completely different – but the metaphor is not completely without merit.

 

One concept that carries over from chess is the fork.

Continue reading “How BJJ is like Chess: The Power of the Fork”

Theory

Jiu-Jitsu Spark Notes: Or What You Need to Know to Roll

I’ve already done a post on how to get the most out of rolling, and if you are looking for best practices, this isn’t that.  This post is the information that I believe to be the barest minimum necessary to get someone rolling.

Will they be good?  No.  Will they be as safe as they can be?  No.  But, sometimes you just have to work with sub-optimal conditions.  Maybe you’re at party and some friends want to see what this “jiu-jitsu” thing is about.  Maybe you’re at a college level club and someone without any experience shows up to an open mat.

So, when reality gets in the way of ideal, this is a way to stay safe and have fun.

Continue reading “Jiu-Jitsu Spark Notes: Or What You Need to Know to Roll”

Theory

The Guard: Control their Posture!

Every position has a goal, or mission.  From the mount, knee on belly, side control, and the back the goal is simple: to submit your opponent.  From the bottom of these positions the goal is equally simple: escape and improve your position.

If you are inside of someone’s guard your mission is still simple: pass the guard.

But the guard is more complicated.

Continue reading “The Guard: Control their Posture!”

Theory

Sparring in BJJ: Not just rolling around

Jiu-jitsu players will tell you that a lot of things make their art special.  The leverage element that offsets weight differences.  The technical, detail oriented approach to techniques over speed and strength.  But really what makes jiu-jitsu special is that it can be practiced at nearly full intensity everyday of the week.*

This means that if you aren’t rolling (jiu-jitsu parlance for sparring) you aren’t taking advantage of what makes jiu-jitsu special.  But how do you get the most out of rolling?

Continue reading “Sparring in BJJ: Not just rolling around”

Theory

On Meta-Jiujitsu

BJJ is a martial art designed for self defense, permitting a smaller person to survive a conflict against a larger, untrained opponent.

The ‘untrained’ component of this definition is important, because in BJJ schools only the newest fish is actually untrained.  Everyone else is trained to one degree or another.  A technique that works against an untrained opponent might not work against a trained opponent.

For example, getting a lapel choke or an americana against an opponent who doesn’t know how to escape the mount is relatively easy, while if your opponent knows the upa escape it can be nearly impossible.  This of course is compounded when your opponent knows the upa escape, the elbow escape, the earthquake escape and knows how to use these techniques in series.  So what do you do?  Meta-Jiujitsu! Continue reading “On Meta-Jiujitsu”

Theory

What is a blue belt?

This is my belt. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

So, what exactly is a blue belt?  From the frequency that this question is asked (and answered in disparate manners) it is clear that the answer is not simple.  Ultimately the answer depends on why people are doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  If they are doing it to win competitions then a blue belt should probably have some connection to the individual’s capacity to perform on the mat.  If they are doing it for self-defense then it should relate to their ability to successfully use jiu-jitsu to defend themselves in a real confrontation.

These two perspectives can be combined into a composite picture where sparring and self-defense are weighed together, but is this the correct approach? Continue reading “What is a blue belt?”