The river or the rock.


A basic armbar: You have your partner ALMOST there, one leg over his chest, the other sorta over his face. You’re grabbing his arm (most likely with your hands buried in his elbow pit) and ripping rearward with everything you got, this fool better learn not to reach up at you when mounted! Not the most technical setup but it feels promising.

He’s got his hands clasped, or folded upon each other, attempting to bury his arm through his chest in defense, grunting and writhing from the bottom.

For a solid minute this goes on, you’re jerking, ripping back and forth, testing the limits of your mouthguard. They’re hoping their arm holds up until the timer saves them.

Nearby newbs are silently (or not) cheering you or them on in a titanic clash of wills. Experienced players nearby wince, waiting for the inevitable.

The grip breaks, a hurried tap, a celebration either externally or within. Both players lie on their backs panting, like a cheesy sex scene from the 80’s, and sit the next round out.

For them, the mistake was made long ago, they should’ve tapped earlier, without exhaustion, and without increased chance of injury. If it’s that much work to defend, they’re caught! They should pay their ticket before there’s interest!

And for you, MOVE ON to something else, something more fruitful, meeting less resistance. Staying where you are, slamming your head against the wall in the same static state, is like a river meeting a rock and insisting on going through it.

Water would go around, and so should you.

Constant pounding of the river on the rock will wear away the rock, but it’ll take much longer that flowing around, and your progress in BJJ will too. BJJ is more about adapting than insisting.

Let the rock be the rock, they can have their arm…for now🙂 Let the river be the river, maintain your flow. Your growth will be much faster, and you’ll see more of the BJJ landscape along the way.

Are you the river or the rock?

Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

Break your path, Wear your Path

You are shown the technique and practice it. You are corrected in your technique, usually several times, and adjust accordingly. You are praised for “getting it” and are now searching for the next. This is the usual routine for most students learning a new technique. And this is where most students fall short.

Learning a new technique is finding a new path through the woods, from one village to the next. You are told where you need to go and accept it readily. Through instruction and repetition, you are given the landmarks and shortcuts; avoiding the thorns, animals, and sketchy bridges. Through correction, most students navigate their way through the technique or the woods, arriving at the technique’s completion or next village.

But a freshly worn path is only as good as the moment you made it. Soon after it will be overgrown and slow moving. It’s not enough to break the path, you must wear the path. Your movement along it gets smoother, quicker, and with little hacking along the way.

You see this manifesting when 2 grapplers do the exact same technique, village to village, but one looks so much more slick, smooth, and “quick”…the other looks janky, jerky and almost painful.

The repetition that counts most in learning a technique, are those that happen AFTER you “understand” and can imitate the technique, AFTER the path is broken. Once you think you have it, THAT is the time to drill it most.

Traveling a freshly worn path frees your mind to relax, and more easily find new paths along the way. 

Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

When the hand is raised

steve hand raise In defeat: If the opponent’s hand is raised. Blame no one, for there needn’t be blame. You put in your effort during and up to this point, the rest is out of your hands. Be thankful for the opportunity, and respectful of your opponent’s hard effort before and during their contest against you. They were on the same mat at that moment. Be thankful for his willingness to put himself in the same position as yourself, where only one can win today, in front of everyone, and one must lose. Cherish his courage that matches your own. Ignore the shallow comments of the bleacher peasants and on-line warriors, they are spectators and you’re the sportsman. Be proud, take credit for all the hard work and planning you put into the weeks leading up to this moment.

In victory: take the moment to absorb what happened, record it for later review, take pride in being there, shake hands, acknowledge their skill. Don’t run around like an idiot… beating your chest, digging them an air grave, flipping them off or throwing your mouthguard. No dropping to your knees, pointing to and thanking the gymnasium ceiling. Shake their coaches hand, walk off and recharge. Avoid the temptation afterwards to gush over details of your victory, especially to someone who has just lost. A person can be judged better by how they handle victory than by their ability to achieve it, because the latter is all you.

Would an outside observer be able to tell if you won or lost, if no hand was raised, based only on your immediate post-match behavior? The goal is no.
Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

Jiujitsu is without pain.

Jiujitsu is painless, technical, and flowing. That is a beauty of Jiujitsu.

It can be done by all walks of life, with anybody, regardless of stature, and without pain.

A jiujitsu technician can go from training with a power lifter to a child, small-framed lady,  and an old man, without skipping a beat, and without a break to change gears between them. It is formless and always finds the easiest flow, whether you can follow it or not.

Nobody is perfect, however, and through our imperfections, we ALL get hurt, but the pursuit of the painless, technical, and flowing beauty of Jiujitsu is our mission.

To “fail” pursuing the path of least resistance is divine and constantly evolving. To “succeed” smashing your way through limbs, nose and teeth, is temporary and weak. Avoid the urgent, cheap thrill of temporary “success”. Jiujitsu doesn’t hurt, but the lack of its mastery can.

Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

When that move “doesn’t work on him”

We’ve all overheard this one. Two grapplers will be either finishing their rolling or momentarily pause during it, with one of them explaining “that move never works on you”.

There are 2 likely reasons for this:

1) The most likely is that your technique was just shitty and that particular partner just happened to see through it and defend accordingly. Most times it isn’t what is different with the partner you couldn’t get it to work on, it’s usually the weakness’ or inexperience of all the others whom it DID work on that should concern you. The worst technique ever will usually work on the new dummies, and it can start to foster bad habits as you are repeatedly rewarded (in the form of a successful tap or pass etc) for a technique with too many holes. For sure, this would be exposed by someone with more experience. And when it does, it can tempt the “that move never works on you”. Just because someone tapped or the move worked on the others doesn’t mean it was a good technique, and that this particular grappler is just an exception.

2) They have some outstanding physical attribute(s). They are too heavy or too strong or flexible. This just means that your techniques just needs to be more like the way you learned them, and not the abbreviated way you‘ve gotten away with in the meantime.  The previous victims were likely lesser experienced partners tapping out of discomfort, fear, or possible sympathy or boredom. The defense to any attack isn’t what the defender does, it’s what he notices the attacker isn’t doing. Likely, you didn’t apply the correct technique in the first place, at the proper time, with all the proper details applied, in order, technically.

Regardless, which would you wish to correct in your own training? Would you attempt to change your partner’s attributes, defenses, natural, technical, or otherwise? Or would you train your own technical savvy, that would apply to all other grapplers you are to evolve with, which includes the “exception”?

It’s totally natural to wonder why that move didn’t work on them, and why they are such an exception. But be thankful that they exposed what you were doing wrong all along.

Ask: What am I doing wrong with this technique, exposed by the “exception”, that is going unnoticed or not seized upon by the others?! A constant state of adjusting, tweaking what we think we know.

Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts