Your Grappling Style

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What’s your grappling style like?

If you are at the beginning of your BJJ adventure, you may be struggling to keep up with all the information you learn in classes.

It will take some time to develop your own style, but it will happen if you keep practicing BJJ long enough.

In my case, my coach influenced my initial style a lot.

I mentioned him in a previous email briefly, but I met him when I was a white belt and he was a purple belt at an open mat in 2002. This was in Japan.

He was one of the best purple belts in Japan at that time, and he did well at Pan American as well as at the Mundials (now more commonly known as the Worlds) as a brown belt – the 2nd place at the former and the 3rd place at the latter in the feather weight category.

When I rolled with him at the said open mat, I was shocked at how “soft” and effortless his moves were. I started training in Australia, and my training partners were much heavier than me. I was a bit over 60kg, and most of them were probably about 80kg. They were all white belts, too. My first coach was a blue belt, and I had rolled with a purple belt or two… maybe once or twice.

So, I had no idea what BJJ purple belts and above were like OR what BJJ is supposed to be like, for that matter, when I met my coach.

But he changed my perception of BJJ by dominating me with great, well-controlled techniques. I don’t remember exactly what he did to me, but I do remember that I was impressed.

After that one roll, I decided that I want to be able to move like him. My coach is well known for his spider guard… and that happens to be my main guard, too.

Now I’ve developed my game more, and I’m not just a “spider and triangle” guy, but my initial style was 100% influenced by my coach.

What’s cool about BJJ is that while the underlying principles are always the same, how people execute the same move can vary from person to person, depending on their body type or other factors.

And it’s perfectly fine. And sometimes, what people might think as a “wrong” move can be technically sound, too.

If you already have a preferred style, what is it like? Or if you’re in the process of developing it, is there anyone whom you like to model?
p.s. Not sure if any of you like using the spider guard, but if you do, here’s a highlight video of my teammate back in Japan… it’s a collection of clips where he does my coach’s signature spider guard sweep. He’s one of the best light weight players in Japan at the moment.