Improving Your Jiu Jitsu Attacks. Lessons From Predators and Scavengers of the Animal Kingdom.
Jiu Jitsu confers an almost magical ability to control and submit another person. Untrained people unknowingly betray the weakness of the human form – allowing the Jiu Jitsu practitioner to ply his or her wares both effectively and efficiently. However, when the adversary also has the power of Jiu Jitsu – it is necessary to dig a little deeper, becoming more thoughtful and nuanced in our attacks.
This first step towards “winning” is not “losing.” Which is why self-defense is widely considered to be the most basic tenet of Jiu Jitsu. However, the true spirit of Jiu Jitsu requires us to go a step further – and that is to make our adversary submit.
As we strive to improve our skills [i.e. increasing our capacity for tapping out even skilled practitioners] – the question naturally arises,
“How can I improve my Jiu Jitsu attacks?”
One surefire way of improving our attacks is by increasing our opportunities for attack. Here it can be helpful to take a lesson from Nature – and break things down into a twofold approach:
- Creating opportunities for attack – much like a Predator.
- Recognizing pre-existing opportunities for attack – much like a Scavenger.
- Predators (such as hawks or eagles) tend to subsist on a limited diet and employ a highly specialized skillset. They have one dominant skill upon which they depend for their survival.
- We see their counterpart in the Jiu Jitsu world – the extremely effective practitioner who subsists largely on a limited set of moves. Highly skilled, they are able to overwhelm their opponent’s defenses with superior offense and nuanced attacks.
- Whether in the natural world, or the Jiu Jitsu world – successful predators learn to initiate attacks only when the chance for success is high.
- Scavengers (such as dogs or rats) can adapt to practically any environment and consume a variety of foods.
- Successful scavengers utilize a more general skillset than the predator – which enables them to recognize and capitalize on opportunities in a wide variety of environmental conditions.
- On the mat, a sound general skillset can enable the scavenging Jiu Jitsu practitioner to make use of a variety of different resources.
My Professor encourages his students to be both proactive and reactive – equal parts predator and scavenger. A specialist and an opportunist.
Like a tiger – we should “stalk and kill the prey” by developing a specialized skillset and some “favorite techniques.” And like a vulture soaring calmly overhead – we should seize upon an opportunity that presents itself.
Hunting for a perfect technical sweep, like a predator – or “finding” a “sloppy” opportunistic reversal, like a scavenger, can yield the same result – yet scavenging can be easier than hunting.
The more we specialize in a limited set of our “favorite techniques” (Tokui Waza in Japanese) – the more we develop our “predatory” skill. The more we develop a general skillset (Mastering the Basics) – the more we will be able to recognize and capitalize on an opportunity. Consciously combining both approaches can help improve your Jiu Jitsu attacks.