Don’t Make This “Domino Effect” Mistake

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There’s a widespread mistake that a lot of BJJ beginners make.

It’s not some specific move, but more like a mistake in how they approach sparring.

I’ve mentioned a few other mistakes like that in my previous emails. Still, this one might be one of the most serious ones because it works like a domino effect and often puts you into a terrible position that you could have otherwise avoided.

What’s this mistake?

Let me tell you a quick story so you can understand what this mistake is like and why you should avoid it.

I learned how to ride a scooter in Bali, Indonesia, when I was there for the first time at the end of 2018.

By the way, many foreign tourists/travelers in Bali get involved in a scooter related accident. It can be a minor or severe accident. Either way, you should always drive safely and avoid damages no matter where.

But the thing is, some of these folks are absolutely clueless about deriving a scooter and still try to ride one without getting enough lessons/practice. And it’s even worse when these people try to drive under influence…

I’m not interested in getting injured from a silly scooter accident. So… I simply got a quick lesson from a local instructor—something like 1 hour for learning the basics and another hour or so of driving around the area.

During this lesson, he told me a few things that I shouldn’t do while riding a scooter. Now I think about it, one of them reminds me of this “domino effect” mistake in BJJ.

What he told me is something like this in essence:

When beginners lose balance or control (for whatever reason)… instead of letting go of the throttle and/or using the breaks, they panic and accelerate because they are often holding the throttle too tightly at that moment when something uncertain happens to them.

If you accelerate when you should slow down, you will be more likely to collide into something or someone with greater force, which is not what you want at all.

On that note, let’s go back to jiu jitsu.

I often see that people think they are in trouble… and then they panic and accelerate instead of slowing down.

In many cases, even if you are in a bad spot, you have to make a few other mistakes to get caught in a technically solid submission/sweep/pass that’s almost impossible to escape from.

But if you panic and make some random & desperate moves, the chances are that your situation will get worse.

So… how do you avoid making this mistake?

It may be easier said than done, but try to observe what’s happening to you in sparring. Try to move less when you think you’re in trouble. It may not be that bad after all. In the worst-case scenario, you tap and restart. After the training session, think about how you could have avoided getting into that troublesome situation or how you could have dealt with that situation better.

Develop these “observation” and “reflection” habits… and your jiu jitsu skills will start improving more.

p.s. I started thinking about writing this mistake when I watched Lucas Lepri’s sparring video recently. In this video, Lucas is rolling with his brown belt student. The brown belt puts Lucas in a slightly-bad position*, but Lucas stays calm, recovers, and counters well.

When I saw this exchange, I thought that a BJJ beginner would possibly freak out in that position and start making unnecessary mistakes. Watch the video to get better ideas of what I’m talking about.

​* It’s not really a bad position. It depends on how you see it and your skill level.