You and Your Silly Pawns

When I think of BJJ techniques, I think of chess pieces.  You can’t win a chess game with just a few pawns.  You must also have a few really good pieces like a bishop, rook or queen.  You have to understand how each piece moves.  You must study its strengths as well as its weaknesses.  Then you have to know how to move those pieces to take advantage of each one’s strengths.  You have to learn to think three, four, even five moves ahead of your current position.

BJJ is very similar to chess.  You start by learning individual techniques.  You must learn each technique’s strengths and weaknesses.  You must also learn how to use it and when to use it.  Then you must learn how each technique works in combination with other techniques.  Finally, you learn to think three, four, even five moves ahead of your current position.

So don’t feel like you have to rush through BJJ like it’s the Indy 500, trying to learning as many techniques as you can as fast as you can.  Take your time and become intimate with each technique.  Learn the nuances of each position and what options you have from each position.  Learn how they play off of one another.  Trade some of those weak techniques in for some good solid foundation moves.  Because, you can’t win chess with a bunch of pawns and you can’t master a combat sport with a bunch of undeveloped techniques.

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4 Responses to You and Your Silly Pawns

  1. Shark Girl says:

    So interesting . . . a pawn can be a very powerful piece and can checkmate the king given the right opportunity. It can also turn into a queen. The metaphor goes on and on.
    In the comparison to chess, what I find interesting is that in BJJ our opponents have different strengths and weaknesses and our strengths and weaknesses must be used differently against them, while each piece on the chess board has the same abilities all the time.
    What is also interesting is that Josh Waitzkin, the “kid” in “Searching for Bobby Fisher” is all grown up and now a Jiu Jitsu practitioner.

    • -Wow cool, I didn’t know that about Josh Waitzkin!
      -On exchanging pawns for queens – I like how in BJJ you can take a simple technique (pawn) and develop it into a very advanced technique (queen). One example that comes to mind in Roy Dean’s video “Jiu Jitsu: White to Black- A Shift In Perspective”.
      -One thing that prompted this post was that some people seem to rush through BJJ, trying to “collect” as many techniques as they can. In the process, they never take the time to actually learn to use said techniques. Initially, this may not be an issue, because they may depend on brute strength with white belts and the advanced belts allow them room to work and figure things out. However, once they get into the blue and purple belt ranks, they are no longer “allowed” room to work and brute strength will no longer work against their peers who have perfected techniques. I think this may be a point where a person would get frustrated and quit BJJ. I think, if the lower ranks would spend more time polishing techniques or turning pawns into queens, there would be a higher retention rate in the blue belt ranks. Of course this is just my opinion and the fact that I have spent sooo much time thinking about it proves that I really need to get a life. 😉

      • Shark Girl says:

        You are right (not about getting a life . . . yours is just fine!). As a newbie, I find I have to constantly remind myself that the technique(s) I am learning I am not supposed to master. I try to break them down into concepts. For example, the other night we were practicing a new choke. The precursor to it was peeling off an arm in a way I’d never seen before. I had to tell myself to stop focusing on the choke and to focus on that arm peel. That’s the basic move that would server me well in the here and now. When I master that, all the things that come next will fall into place.

      • Arm peel! That’s what I forgot to try last week rolling. That would have helped me get that armbar! It’s been circling around my head for days now, “What am I missing? What am I doing wrong?” Thanks, now I can sleep at night! 😉

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