Depth and Breadth: Two Approaches to Jiu Jitsu

There are two activities in BJJ that I particularly enjoy.

The first is technical rolling, where you train hard but are focused on constantly moving, thinking, creating opportunities, trying things, risking positions, etc. I think of it as a chess match but with the human body. Sometimes it’s a game of speed chess, and sometimes is an hour long slow game where every change in position involves an intellectual exchange, where both people can see several steps ahead. I’m just a lowly blue belt, but I’m beginning to appreciate the beauty of jiu jitsu, probably because I’m getting comfortable enough to relax in a scramble and observe the decisions my training partner makes.

I attended Eric’s class at Osagame today (before his preparation for the black belt test) and got a chance to train with a 130 lbs girl who had an exceptionally technical guard. She was constantly moving and threatening my balance with a mix of spider guard and de la riva. Anyway, I really enjoyed trying to figure her guard out, failing at times, but sometimes succeeding.

Many people enjoy this kind of training, because it’s challenging mentally but also is a damn good work out. It’s the second activity, that I also very much enjoy, that most people seem to dislike: drilling.

It’s not actually drilling that I like. It’s the exploration of a technique in depth. Taking something as simple a basic guard pass or an x-choke and drilling it so many times that you begin to notices the effects of even the slightest variations in grip, pressure, body position, etc. I really enjoy doing something that I believe incorporates fundamental principles of jiu jitsu hundreds and thousands of times. And I am excited by the possibility of doing it tens of thousands of times. Not for competition. Not for any reason, but to internalize the mechanics of the technique to the point where it becomes just as natural as breathing. I haven’t gotten anywhere close enough with that in judo or jiu jitsu, but that’s certainly a goal that I’m willing to work hard towards, and get the reps in day after day.

I follow the same idea in my research, where the scope of the challenges at times seem considerably more complex and messy.

0 thoughts on “Depth and Breadth: Two Approaches to Jiu Jitsu

  1. Tom

    Great write up! I think im one of the few people who enjoy lots of drilling as well.. uchikomi is great! Im sure Ill enjoy rolling more as I get good.. lol

    1. Lex Post author

      Lol, yes! You highlight a very important point. Drilling is not just important for white belts. It’s even more important for black belts. The latter, however, are usually much less willing to do it.

  2. Jason C. Brown

    I was just discussing drilling with Josh on Thursday. I’m rehabbing my elbow. Pain was so bad I couldn’t sleep at night but I still wanted to train and asked people after class if they wanted to drill. What happened was a bit weird, guys would rather sit on the side than actually drill. Rolling was cool and that’s what they were looking for but when asked to choose, drill or sit…they chose sit.

    Thought I was nuts but Josh confirmed my findings.


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