Assume the Best

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There are countless techniques in BJJ.​

Each technique often comes with different setups and at least a few variations. Sometimes the same move may have slightly different details for its finishing mechanics.​

It can get confusing to pick which technique to learn and which variation to focus on when you start looking for new techniques and learning them independently. (As opposed to simply following what your coach will assign you to learn.)​

As boring as it may sound, your best bet is to stick with the techniques that the best of the best use effectively to beat other elite grapplers. And what you want to do is to refine these techniques.​

I’d also say it’s best to stay away from cool-looking, fancy moves. Perhaps not all, but such moves tend to be low-percentage and not work against high-level competitors.​

Generally speaking, it’s better to assume the best – assume that your opponents are highly intelligent and skilled in the game of grappling instead of assuming that most of your opponents will fall for surprise attacks that may not work when your opponents know what’s going on.​

If you could train all day, every day, spending some time on one-off “tricks” would be fine. But for most of us, I’d say it’s more efficient to focus on high-percentage techniques that are proven to be effective against high-level competitors even when they know what’s going on.​

Sometimes it can be tricky to draw a line between “low-percentage” and “high-percentage”. The buggy choke is a good example. I’m inclined to think that the choke itself is a low-percentage move, but when people like the Ruotolo brothers hit it against other high-level competitors and submit them, well, what can I say.​

The thing is, the Ruotolo brothers are excellent in other techniques, and it’s not like beginners trying the buggy choke, hoping it would work, when they don’t even know how to escape from the side control, for example.

Back to assuming the best. Again, it may sound boring, but what works against even the best of the best is… all the basic moves you are likely to learn at the beginning of your BJJ journey.​

You have to keep refining them, though. And that potentially boring process of refining the basic techniques (as well as movements) might be one of the secrets to success after all.

​p.s. Here’s one of the best examples of what I’m talking about — Roger Gracie vs. Buchecha.