The beauty of jiu jitsu means that there are countless choices in any one moment in time. From each position, you can pick and choose many different options to move forward. And with every second of motion, these choices change. Some open up and some shut down.
It's easy to block a move when you know it's coming. That's why you practice techniques when your opponent isn’t intentionally resisting them. And it's also why your attempts to prove a technique wrong is the best way to learn nothing. It doesn’t help you, or your partner get better.
In HSC Economics we got to test theories and discuss events under the assumption of ‘ceteris paribus’ I.e. everything else being equal, and/or held to a constant. If you’d like to explore how one aspect affects the rest, you need to hold other factors at a standstill. Otherwise everything is going everywhere and you can’t ever determine what’s affecting what.
Always look to find how the move can work best. You can do this by searching for the essential mechanics in the techniques. These are the aspects of the technique that make the magic happen. When one thing pushes another has to pull. When one force goes up, another must come down. This is the counterbalance, which is physics, which is nature.
Every technique follows these principles. They have no other choice. The best way to uncover these details is to minimise the speed of your actions. When you slow things down, the intricacies of the technique aren't clouded by willpower or muscular force. Rather it is the mechanics of the movement that come through clearly.
This is how slow becomes smooth, and smooth becomes fast.
For example, you could shoot a very quick double leg takedown and hope for the best. Or you can slow down what is happening. When it slows you have the chance to feel the balls of your feet press against the ground to allow you to thrust yourself forward toward your opponent’s base.
Every technique follows these principles. They have no other choice. The best way to uncover these details is to minimise the speed of your actions. When you slow things down, you no longer rely on willpower or muscular force to guide what you’re doing. Rather it is the mechanics of the movement that come through clearly.
Mechanics aren’t unique to each technique. They vary, but they’re also similar. So when you uncover the mechanics in one movement, you’ll find a bunch of other techniques that also rely on this mechanic. You can use your new found knowledge to make those better as well.
Soon you see that amongst the countless techniques within jiu jitsu, there are a numbered amount of concepts that underlie them. And when timing aligns with motion, sparks fly and jiu jitsu happens. Not by force, but by nature. This is how you turn your study of jiu jitsu into a science.
Eventually there comes a time when the study is put aside, and the moment arrives to put your learning into practice. It’s when your thinky brain stops buzzing in thought, and the feelers come out instead. The mouthpiece will come in, the timer starts, and it’s time to do the work. When there is a situation of conflict, or a higher intensity roll, there is no time to think. Instead you will start to rely on your training, and your ability to feel the right thing at the right time.
This only happens when you have deliberately sought to understand what you are doing. That’s why it's critical to explore jiu jitsu as a study rather than as a fight. When you fight you panic and everything gears towards survival. When you study, you observe, you offer counterarguments, and you always look for the way of minimal effort. Judoka call this 'seiryoku zenyo' - the way of minimal effort.
This is also how the martial arts can infiltrate life outside of the dojo too. When you are used to forcing your way through jiu jitsu, you will also be forcing your way through the world. After some time that becomes tiring and unsustainable. Work with your partner and with the flow of nature. Take your time to understand the relationship, because it’s this search that will lead you to the elusive gold that is Higher Jiu Jitsu.