Keenan Cornelius Jiu Jitsu Philosophy in Two Sentences

keenan-cornelius-black-belt-philosophyA month ago Keenan put up a Q&A video on facebook in which someone asked him to summarize his jiu jitsu philosophy in two sentences. His off-the-cuff answer was:

  1. Always be attacking.
  2. Your hands and feet should always be doing something useful.

I thought this was a great answer. Instead of relying on overly-philosophical cliches involving some combination of “gentle art”, “ego”, “never quit”, he went with the pragmatic.

This philosophy resonated with me, as it’s something I constant strive for. To me, “attacking” is bigger than just always looking for submission or to improve position. “Attacking” means maintaining a mind that’s both focused and aware. The goal is to see and feel everything your opponent is doing and have full awareness of your own body (hands, feet, hips, head, etc).

Flow-like state of focus is difficult to achieve and maintain. These days, it’s the main thing I work on, whether I’m rolling with a black belt or a blue belt, in a high-paced hard match that pushes me to physical exhaustion or a more chill-paced technical match. I am constantly working to be active. “Active” doesn’t always mean big drastic movements. Sometimes “active” means subtle grip adjustments and sometimes it means not moving at all while observing the movements of the other person:

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” – Napoleon

It’s an amazing feeling when everything is clear and the path to a submission opens up, very similar to the historically-very-accurate event of the Red Sea parting for Moses. But those opportunities only arise when you’re always active, always attacking.

Thanks to Keenan for the excellent advice. He has a new instructional website if you want to check it out.


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