Jiu Jitsu Journey

It’s been a busy but good seven days. Last Monday I was presented my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt by my coach and mate, Andre Pimenta. A close friend of mine, black belt, Pete O’shea was also out the front, Pete said some kind words before the belt was awarded. Then came the whip down. I do my upmost to maintain the stiff upper lip during stuff like that but I am definitely  pleased I’ll not have to experience that again! I have been training in BJJ at a handful of places since 2007; I’m a proud member of Carlson Gracie Camberley and UK, thank you to everyone involved at CG, especially Andre and Wilson Junior. Extended thanks to Casey Jones and all at SBG Shropshire where I first began to practice in Jiu Jitsu. Lastly, thanks to, RGA black belt, Chris Cleere at Genesis Gym who lets me drop in and train when I’m up in the Marlow/Wycombe area.

I love Jiu Jitsu. The cross training element absolutely brings benefits to my Judo performance. Nowadays however, I don’t view it as I once did as a younger fighter, I enjoy BJJ for BJJ’s sake. I love learning the new skills. There was once a point when I was literally hand picking what I thought would be directly transferable to Judo, I wouldn’t say I’d disregard all else but I was going onto the mat with a clear agenda in my mind. Now when I step onto a Jits mat it is with the intention to become a better Jiu Jitsu practitioner. I still register anything I think might be applicable to a Judo contest but that is no longer my primary purpose for the sessions.

From my experiences of training in BJJ for Judo I’ve found that virtually all the real applicable material lies in the process between white and blue belt: hip escapes, heel drags, posture in guard, destroying posture from guard, defending and freeing hooks, deep half guard, safe and simple passing, simple attacks from guard. All these listed are seldom taught in Judo but important for high level groundwork performance. The majority of our attacks come from our partner being on their front or on all fours (turtle), some of the other connecting areas (as just mentioned) can sometimes be overlooked. This is where I found Jiu Jitsu to be very useful in providing those skills which were somewhat lost or forgotten about from older eras of Judo. For a couple of decades Judo contest rules allowed for a lot less time on the deck, that is changing therefore forcing a more complete skill set and understanding from competitors. The rules are also  geared towards more throwing now, with the opponent landing on their side or towards their back more frequently so the opportunity for more half gurd (leg trapped) exchanges is available. It is very rare that we ever end up in an equal position on the floor i.e on two knees facing each other; for that reason when I do Judo ne-waza randori (groundwork sparring) I virtually will always go to all fours (turtle) to start the practice, defend and then if the opportunity arises fight my way on top and look to score. I know that way my practice is coming from a realistic Judo contest positional standpoint. Many, many times I’ve seen people risk trying to fight/spin their way back to guard in Judo competition and end up getting pinned (twenty seconds in side control, mount or north and south will finish the contest), I’m not saying that it will never work but in my mind the risk is rarely worth the reward. Better to stay tight on all fours defending the neck, arms and hooks and have the referee stand you back up after ten to fifteen seconds, I picked up simple tips for these areas in the basics BJJ classes. I really like some of the more purple belt level De La Riva system of attacks, I have found though that they are just too progressive for Judo, the time is hardly ever given by the referees (arguably due to a lack of understanding), so, better to conserve energy than exert ultimately unrewarded effort. 

On the flip side of the previous section I think the same balance can be true for cross training Judo for BJJ. Important to point out that I don’t have any high level Jiu Jitsu results to write home about, these ideas come from someone who has trained a lot in both sports, teaches Judo, of which many of the students also practice Jiu Jitsu, but, in actuality, has a shred of experience in competitive BJJ in comparison to competitive Judo.  

I believe the very fundamental basics of Judo such as dynamic stance, movement, gripping sequences, simple throws mixed in with simple takedowns is enough. A strong dynamic stance and assertive movement to close space and win the grip will nullify attacks to the legs, we did used to have them in Judo you know 🙂 I find it utter madness that anyone purely cross training to benefit their BJJ abilities would even consider investing in any technique that involves actively turning and exposing the back. Even some of the low fireman style leg grab take downs and pick ups can be very small in reward considering the risk of exposure to the guillotine. If you want to get better at BJJ then 90% of your practice time should be on the floor devoted to Jiu Jitsu. The remaining 10% should not really allow time for the practice of risky techniques but to the most safe and effective fundamentals and attacks. I do think, although this is theory as I’ve not specifically tried it, about a couple of the Jits black belts I’ve done some Judo with, and how they’ve developed and are able to get what they want out of the stand up exchanges. If a BJJ practitioner was subjected to twelve-ish one hour sessions of Jiu Jitsu rule specific stand up and then started each roll on each session then on from the feet, that may be all that was largely ever needed. Food for more thought.

Hope everyone has a good week.