It occurred to me recently that most people I’ve rolled with in no-gi, let’s say in the past few months, have a similar style or seem to work on developing a similar style. It’s more or less based on the current trends, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing… after all, most of the current trends in no-gi are mostly made by John Danaher and Gordon Ryan, and their stuff is proven to work at the highest level of competition.
So, many people seem to do the butterfly guard, leg locks, the body lock pass, back attacks, and wrestling up. And perhaps the mount position is returning as part of the current trends, thanks to Gordon Ryan’s performance.
Those who are into leg locks a bit more are working on their K-guard and false reap — while they are not part of the Danaher system, as far as I know, they are certainly part of the current trends.
I’ve recommended many of these positions and concepts myself inside and outside BJJ Reflections because they are effective. Whether you use them or not, you need to be familiar with them, too.
But when it hit me that almost everyone, at least people around me, is more or less doing the same set of moves, this situation felt a bit boring despite the effectiveness of these moves. There’s not much diversity of styles in no-gi compared to how people play in gi.
But this may be simply because no-gi guard positions are not as varied as guard positions you could play with gi.
Or perhaps a no-gi open guard revolution is yet to take place, and we just haven’t fully realized no-gi open guard’s potential.
And, who knows, maybe 20 years from now, what I mentioned above as the trendy moves may become considered the basic grappling techniques, much like the closed guard and whatnot.
The fact that I feel it’s boring is not really a problem for everyone else, and I do recommend modeling after your favorite players and think that there’s no need to reinvent the wheels, especially in the beginning stage of your BJJ journey.
By the way, it’s not a situation unique to no-gi. For example, when berimbolo and the worm guard started becoming popular, many people got into these moves and tried to copy the Miyao brothers or Keenan Cornelius. These trends come and go all the time.
I’d like to point out that when everyone is doing the same things, perhaps doing something completely different might prove to be effective. Just because everyone is working on the body lock pass, you don’t necessarily have to do it (though you need to know it enough to counter it).
For example, I prefer the Murilo Santana kind of guard passing to the standard body lock pass with which you lock your hands, place your head against your opponent’s chest, and stay low. With the Murilo Santana style, you don’t lock your hands, your head placement is different, and you keep your hips high. It’s more likely to be called the over/under pass, but you could say it’s a kind of the body lock pass.
I know many of us tend to ask what the best moves and techniques are and try to learn them… but such moves may not be the best for you. You might need to adjust them or do something different.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your style and keep developing your jiu jitsu.
p.s. What is it like in your training environment? Do you or your training partners use the kind of techniques mentioned above?