Core Concepts that every BJJ expert uses to improve performance on the mat
I’ve always felt that a BJJ exponent on the mat should try to do more with the techniques that they know. Too often we have people trying to learn technique after technique, in search of one that will guarantee them dominance on the mat. In reality, just knowing a technique to technical perfection, and knowing how to use the body correctly, can guarantee that you do well against most opponents.
There are several easy ways to improve your jiu-jitsu exponentially…
1.It starts with the breath.
But breathing is linked to mental control, and thinking, not panicking, is key to victory on the mat. Keep your breathing smooth and even throughout the bout, focus on that breathing, and you’ll be surprised how your ability to move and counter-move improves.
Also linked to breathing is not consciously focusing upon, and judging yourself during the bout. Many exponents are so worried about whether they’re executing a technique correctly that this obsession interrupts the flow and counter-flow of technique that is the essence of Jiu Jitsu.
It’s best to learn technique in detail in drills with a partner – when you’re competing on the mat, it’s best not to self-analyze too much – this interferes with the smooth flow of technique, and can actually impede your reactions to your opponent’s moves.
2. Exploring the variations and possibilities of techniques with partners.
Sometimes a technique that appears simple, such as a straight-armlock from guard, can have a surprising number of possibilities, both for the person executing the technique, and for their opponent. Good jiu-jitsoka will ‘play with techniques’ with friends and partners who are as enthusiastic about the art as they are.
This detailed exploration of the techniques that you do know results in a familiarity with every possibility inherent in the techniques, so that these possibilities flow so fast when you are on the mat, that an onlooker might think you are reacting on instinct alone.
In reality, you are reacting through utter familiarity with the techniques – which brings me right back to the point I mentioned at the beginning of the article, that building on what you know is more effective than superficially knowing dozens of techniques.
3. Use your body correctly.
Jiu Jitsu is grip, correct handling of body weight and movement, and leverage. Or rather, effective Jiu Jitsu is a combination of all three.
I will illustrate this point with the scissor sweep. The first point contributing to the success of a scissor sweep is to adequately control the arm and the wrist. The second point is to power the sweep with the movement of the trunk and the hips. I’ve seen too many people imperfectly apply this technique using only the strength of their arms, when it so clearly calls for the power of the trunk and the hips. Finally, when you kick the legs, it merely raises the center of gravity of your opponent – your placement of him in the initial application of the technique does the rest.
So the correct execution of the scissor sweep involves using the whole body correctly, gripping and controlling the arm, then drawing strength from hip and torso to place the opponent, then using the sweeping leg to put him on the ground. And so it is in many of the techniques of JiuJitsu.
Only the beginner uses the different parts of his body separately from each other – for the expert, the body becomes one coordinated unit that works as one to achieve success in each technique. This is what you must train diligently with your partners to achieve – no matter what technique you are trying to execute, or are experimenting with on the mat.
The best place to learn, of course, it from the experts. Sites like blackmonkeyexperts.com, for example, allow you to upload your videos and ask questions about your technique – which a highly qualified board of experts then answer. The web is an excellent resource for those trying to improve their BJJ in any case – use it to the fullest.