Over the past two weeks my BJJ game has changed fundamentally. Suddenly, instead of thinking in terms of the moves we’ve been taught, I find myself thinking in terms of the underlying principles.
For example: when on top in side control, I stopped thinking about putting my arm under his head (item 3 on my “side-control” checklist, as if I was a pilot preparing my aircraft for flight). Instead there came the simple idea that it would be good to arrange things so that if he turned a way I didn’t want, he’d choke himself without me having to do anything.
If you like, it’s a process of forgetting the moves so that you can invent them for yourself as you go along.
I’m rather at the forgetting stage just now, so the overall performance can end up worse than it was, but deep down it really is progress. I’m moving from doing a less good thing well to doing a better thing less well. Eventually, once the process is complete, I’ll be able to think about moves once more, but the way the blue belts do. Listening to them talk, they do talk about moves, but the moves are a description of what they’re doing, not a definition of it.
Anyway, the new thinking has had its successes. Yesterday, rolling with Luciano and practising getting out from under his side control (he’s 83.5kg on the scales but 120kg when he’s on top of me), I suddenly felt, in the middle of my shrimp-and-shove attempt to get him into guard, that the position was unstable. I gave it a bit of a push in the right direction and sure enough, we toppled over and I was in a side control position on top of him. I couldn’t tell you what the move was called and I don’t want to know just yet because the knowledge would confuse me, but that moment of “something funny in the equilibrium here, let’s try to use it” is exactly the sort of principle thing I’m trying to convey.
Here, appositely, is a YouTube clip about weight placement:
Being a principle, you can bear it in mind anywhere – as opposed to a move, which only fits in one place. I saw this on B Stuff et cetera (thanks, and good luck with the operation!).