Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all about submissions. Wait, no it is all about positions. No, no wait, BJJ is all about control and domination. Or is it? While all of the above is true to a certain extent, there’s one way to very accurately portray Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ is all about deception. As unattractive as that sounds, once you grasp this concept your BJJ is going to get better by a country mile. Namely, the ability to deceive your opponent into thinking you’re doing a certain move is a very powerful weapon. It is way more than just a BJJ concept, it is the very essence of the Gentle Art. At the highest level of competition where people are aware of everything coming their way, deception is the key to winning. This approach actually has a name for it – Invisible Jiu-Jitsu.
For BJJ, the old saying that the devil is in the details is tailor-made. Invisible Jiu-Jitsu is all about the things that you do not see but impact a match or a roll significantly. It is the game that takes place behind the curtains. The small moves and angles that make the visible moves work. It is the very essence of grappling martial arts and it is deception in its purest form. We’re going to present the basic concept of Invisible Jiu-Jitsu before we dig into the meat and potatoes of the game of deception and details.
So what is Invisible Jiu-Jitsu It is the game that goes on behind the curtains of moves and counter-move?. Invisible Jiu-Jitsu consists of really tiny movements. A subtle shift of pressure, increasing or decreasing an angle ever so slightly. This might sound like inconsequential to some, but advanced students are going to recognize them immediately. The hardest part is becoming aware of these details and starting to use them intentionally.
Let’s try and use an example to capture the essence of Invisible Jiu-Jitsu. When you are passing the guard a common reaction of the opponent is to construct a frame. Usually, the placement of the frame is somewhere along the neck. This is invisible Jiu-Jitsu at work in itself, because if you press you’re going to choke yourself. The advanced use of the concept goes beyond this, though. Knowing that any direct resistance just makes the frame stronger offers a way to use deception to complete the pass. Placing light pressure on the frame is going to make your opponent commit to it more. The moment they give it too much of a push, you change the angle and you’re through. Deception got the opponent to overcommit, resulting in their frame turning into a lever for you. Cunning and beautiful!
From an outside perspective, seeing two high-level grapplers tangled up might seem boring and uneventful. To them, however, there’s a full out war going on below the surface. As you learn BJJ, you’ll start noticing these patterns more and more. This is why BJJ is the game of human chess. The mental battle of deception is as important as the physical battle for position. Something as small as a grip placement or a pushing or pulling motion can be a game changer.
Training The Game Of Details In BJJ
At the highest levels of Jiu-Jitsu, you have two people essentially playing a highly developed game of details.The ultimate goal is, of course, getting a submission over the opponent.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, even the smallest shift of position in a joint, or the angle of your elbow can make or break the structure of your own body. Conversely, when you apply the system properly it is going to destroy the structure of your opponent’s body. The end game is to allow the body to work a whole, both offensively and defensively. You can achieve this through alignment and proper use of leverage and tension. Another Invisible Jiu-Jitsu example is the war of frames. Whenever an opponent has a frame on you, probe their structure with a frame of your own. Once you discover a weak spot in the opponent’s structure, grab the opportunity. Using a strong body part of yours against the opponent’s weak one is a major part of Invisible Jiu-Jitsu.
The ultimate goal is always to locate weaknesses in the structure of the opponent. This includes the use of the muscles, ligaments and skeletal structure of your opponent against them. Shifting angles is a great way or creating dominant skeletal alignment superior to the opponent. A great way to become extremely proficient at this is positional drilling. An example is hunting an Americana from the mount where the sole purpose of the opponent is hiding the hand. Force won’t’ work unless you know how to create the correct leverage to force their arm to the mat so you can finish.
In BJJ, the general focus is on the physics of the skeletal system. Invisible Jiu-Jitsu is exactly this, the physics of biomechanical movement. As far as skeletal structure goes, in Jiu-Jitsu we usually focus on how the bones line up with one another. Proper bone alignment allows us to create leverage, friction, pressure, etc. There’s a deeper aspect to this, though. Skeletal alignment works great in combination with strength to create a match-winning structure. This means turning the muscles on at the correct time.
This comes into play in many small battles during a roll or match. Working against a knee shield in half or guard is one such example. IN this case, try to focus on skeletal alignment that facilitates optimal usage of the larger and stronger muscle groups. At the same time, make sure you’re not backing your structure with smaller and weaker muscles. A precise and well-timed skeletal structure, backed by the correct layers of muscle is black belt level Jiu-Jitsu. This is what makes smaller grapplers feel like they have gorilla strength when rolling with someone bigger and stronger. It is invisible Jiu-Jitsu at it’s best!
Try to look for these Invisible Jiu-Jitsu concepts when you roll your academy. do not expect to understand or even recognize them instantly. It takes years to master the invisible game of details. However, once you understand it, you’re going to become a truly formidable grappler. So it is better to start off early and invest your time in developing your invisible Jiu-Jitsu game.
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