How many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques do you know? And how many of them do you really use on a regular basis, against opposition of all levels? In reality, you do not need nearly as many techniques as you might think. Take a look at the very best grapplers of today. Go to a seminar of theirs, and you’ll think they know everything. Yet see them compete, and you’ll notice that they only perform a handful of select techniques time and time again. It is not as much about the choice of techniques, as it is about whether or not you can make them work. That leaves a lot of space for adjusting and figuring out what your arsenal should hold. It should, however, fit in your pocket, sort to speak.
Nobody alive is able to learn all the Brazilian Ju-Jitsu techniques. Even if, hypothetically, someone could, they’d have a pretty hard time accessing whatever needs to be accessed in a specific moment of rolling or a match. That brings us to the notion that in reality, you only need a few Brazilian JIu-Jitsu techniques, at any given moment. Of course, that will depend on your level, personal preferences, etc. Still, the less you go for quantity, the more you’ll get in terms of quality, which is what you actually need to be good at Jiu-Jitsu.
The Techniques Vs. Concepts Debate
When it comes to learning Jiu-Jitsu, there are two main avenues to do so at the moment. One is to go and collect as many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques as you can and build a game around them. Another is to go completely in the opposite direction and base your BJJ on concepts and principles of body mechanics and the goals of grappling. The most usual approach is blending both to a certain degree, but there are those that go to the extremes of either of those directions.
In truth, we can’t really learn concepts if there are no techniques that makeup Jiu-Jitsu. However, we couldn’t master techniques either, or evolve them, unless we can figure out why and how they work. So, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques and concepts have a complicated relationship. However, they can’t function separately, so there’s really no point in separating them. The idea here is that both techniques and concepts are parts of Jiu-Jitsu that we need to learn. Finding out the perfect blend for you will take time. In fact, it will take a lifetime and it will constantly change. So, embrace both.
That said, you might feel as if your workload has doubled now. How do you learn both concepts and techniques? Isn’t it too much? It won’t be too much if you decide to focus on things that make sense. The notion that simple is best applies here perfectly. Choose a few basic concepts that make sense, pair them with a few high percentage techniques that you like, and start having fun seeing how many combinations of them you can make. That is how you start to learn and discover Jiu-Jitsu for real, instead of just being a collector of moves.
How Many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques Do You Really Need?
There’s no precise number I can offer as the answer to this question. Roger Gracie has this down to perfection. According to him, there’s no need to spend your time in Jiu-Jitsu, collecting all kinds of different techniques. That will not make you any better. In fact, it will hold you back.
According to Roger, “All the top Jiu-Jitsu players are great at a few moves”. he is definitely right about that, as we already discussed before. At the highest levels of the game, it is all about baiting someone towards what you’re best at, not trying to catch them at their own game. The key here is to approach learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques completely. that means trying to figure out every single detail behind a certain move. Give this a try, and you’ll find out that learning details only uncovers more and more tiny details that really make or break BJJ moves. What you need to be looking for in any move, is that “click” when everything starts to make sense. then, you have your go-to move.
Let’s take a Kimura for example. If you’re great at a Kimura from side control, you don’t really need more side control submissions. In fact, you don’t even need to have a good Kimura from any other position. Instead, look to be unbeatable at that particular Kimura. That’s all you need. Remember how Roger beat everyone in his division and the absolute at the Worlds using nothing but the cross collar choke?
Evolving Your Game
Many people think that the more techniques they know, the faster they’ll get to the next belt. Jiu-Jitsu does not work like that. you do not need many moves to get to the next belt. You need to make the moves you know and like to work against everyone in order to see a progression in your game.
That said, if you decide you’ll learn two new techniques each week, in a year, you should know 104 new Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques. Let’s say you need 10 years to get to the black belt. That amounts to 1040 techniques. Do you really think you can learn so many and be able to apply them when you need to?
Evolving your BJJ game is something you have to do. However, all you need to do is build on the moves you already have working. If you know that Kimura from side control, for example, you can start exploring the concept of the kimura trap in order to open up the transition to the back off of your favorite submissions. And vice versa, of course. The key is to keep working on concepts and techniques at the same time. that means that you need to know how to hold side control and a Kimura, in order to be able to apply al the finishing details you’ve been figuring out.
Do an experiment. Try and reduce the number of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques you do. For starters, have fun with just one technique, from each of the main positions. If you factor in offensive and defensive moves, you already have quite the number in there – in fact, you have everything you’ll ever need. Now go and research them as deeply as possible and become the authority on them. Progression, belts, an understanding of BJJ, and a host of other benefits will inevitably come your way.