Unknown Legend

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2 minute read

There’s this guy who influenced my approach to BJJ quite a lot.

He is a legendary figure among his students and friends.

He is well known as a referee in Asia (primarily countries like Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, where he lives & teaches BJJ).

But in the grand scheme of BJJ things, he is rather unknown… but that doesn’t matter to me or anyone who enjoys learning from him.

His name is Makoto, and he is the head coach at Taiwan BJJ in Taipei, Taiwan. He is originally from Japan but trained extensively at a branch of Nova União in Brazil for some time and has been living in Taiwan for many years.

To me… he’s a legend.

His approach to BJJ is more position & point oriented. He teaches his students to work on developing good technique rather than relying on strength or pure athleticism. He puts huge emphasis on making sure that his students score points when they can and that they understand the BJJ rules.

Before meeting & learning from Makoto, I didn’t have this “scoring points when I can/should” mentality.

I had been telling myself a typical BS that many people tell themselves: I’m just going for a submission, and I don’t care about points.

While I did win by triangle choke here and there, I lost some matches because I didn’t capitalize on the points I could have taken.

I didn’t know the rules well, I didn’t know anything else but going for triangle choke, and I simply covered up my ignorance with a cool-sounding phrase — I’m just going for a submission.

Just through hanging out with Makoto and seeing him teach his students, I changed my mind and started realizing that playing the “point game” can be crucial, too.

I wrote about some observations from the local grappling comp I went to watch in my previous email. I forgot to mention something.

I witnessed more than a few matches where one player could have won by scoring relatively easy points. But they were too distracted by some other options or simply didn’t know/realize that they could have scored points.

Sure, if it’s a submission-only match, switching to another position that would have awarded you points under other rules may not mean much. You might as well stick with what you’re working on.

But if you’re competing in rulesets where scores play an important role, you should definitely pay attention to your scores. Know the rules and dominate your opponent by taking superior positions that award you points. Going for a submission will be much easier from such superior positions anyway.

Make sure to learn and practice how to control your opponent in different positions so you can be comfortable about switching your positions if necessary.

I believe this approach will be better for you in the long run.