Both Sides

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If you have ever wondered whether you should drill moves on both sides but never got a satisfactory answer to it, this post is for you.

My answer depends on a few things.

Let’s say you are learning a new move. In this case, you don’t need to worry about learning how to do it on both sides. Just pick one side that’s comfortable for you and stick with it. Instead of spending 50% of your effort on the left and the other 50% on the right side, spend 100% on one side. That way, you will learn this technique on your favorite side more quickly.

With most moves, you don’t really need to know how to do them on both sides. For example, I believe most de la riva players use this guard on one side. These moves and positions tend to be complicated, and there’s no strong reason why you should be able to perform them on the other side. Of course, if you manage to learn how to do berimbolo (for example) from both sides, that’s great for you. But it’s not absolutely necessary.

On that note, some moves are easy enough to learn on both sides. With these moves, since the amount of effort required to learn how to do them on both sides is low enough, you should eventually learn to do them on both sides. When you mix up both sides in your attacks, your overall offense will be more effective.

Toreando is an excellent example of such moves. You move towards your right, and when it doesn’t work, you switch to your left. And you can keep mixing up directions until your opponent fails to catch up with you.

Another example is triangle choke. I like switching from one side to the other side because most people don’t expect it. It might sound counterintuitive initially, but you have access to the other side when your opponent tries to escape from the original side.

Rear naked choke is even simpler to learn how to do on both sides, and it’s much easier to switch from one side to the other.

Learning these moves on both sides is optional. But there are two kinds of things you should know how to do on both sides.

One of them is defending yourself from your opponent’s attacks. For example, you can’t just work on armbar defense on one side and completely ignore the other side. When it comes to defensive moves, you need to be able to defend yourself from any attack from any side.

The other kind of things you need to know how to do on both sides is actually something broader in nature. While you don’t need to be able to do the same move (say, the knee cut pass) on both sides, you must be able to pass to your left and right. You could use the knee cut pass to your left, and you could use the smash pass to your right. It doesn’t matter which pass you use, but you must learn how to pass the guard in both directions.

The same idea applies to sweeps and takedowns.

Ideally, you should be able to connect your left-side moves with your right-side moves and vice versa. Your offensive options will be broader and more effective when you can do that.

To level up as a grappler, you must learn to chain different attacks from different sides/directions together. That’s how to beat high-level opponents.

I hope this post gave you a better, nuanced idea about what to do in terms of learning techniques on both sides.