Understanding the fundamentals of Jiu-Jitsu by Matt Thronton

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Matt Thornton, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and founder of Straight Blast Gym (SBG). He talks about the importance of knowledge and understanding of the Jiu-Jitsu fundamentals.

It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a black belt World Champion, you have to understand and know the fundamentals of Jiu-Jitsu. A lot of instructors make mistakes about this. They are trying to resolve what’s actually fundamental, is this technique, or is that sweep fundamental? This is not the correct approach to resolve this issue. The key is the structure. The structure allows the technique to work. This is very important to understand.

For example, if you are watching the black belt World champions, neither one of them have the same technique or style of fighting. In the end, all of them are very different.


      Matt Thornton and Rickson Gracie

The structure

Underneath every style or even the technique, there’s a structure. The skeletal structure that they share in common. That is the fundamentals of Jiu-Jitsu.

For Professor Thornton, the focus is to teach students to develop their own style. To create your own style, you need time. In the end, when you create your own style, it will be a reflection of yourself.

The tree of fundamentals

There is a unique display created by Professor Thornton. The analogy he often uses is a tree.

The roots are the base of the tree. That is where everything starts. It’s literally the connection to the ground itself, the center of gravity.

If you don’t have the platform, you are not going to be able to build the posture you need. The base is something that comes after posture. Which is literally the relationship of your body to your opponent’s body.

From any given position, there’s only going to be few directions you can apply force, a few angles at which you can apply force. Those are the main branches that sprout off the trunk of that tree.

Counter to counter Principe

Today, we can say that almost every technique has a counter, and there is a counter for that counter.

Finding and learning a technique is not a problem, it is more accessible today than ever. You can find almost every technique that you want on the internet. Learning is not a problem, but will this technique work? What makes the technique work is the roots of the trunk and the main branches of the tree.

Also, when you start doing counter for the counter, you will end up playing other people’s games. But if you address their game, and reverse engineer their games, at the trunk from the tree, at the roots you stop their game at all.

Fundamentals :

Roots of the tree – base

The trunk of the Tree – posture 

Brunches – angles and directions of force, pressure

There is also one more important thing in the tree structure. Between the trunk of the tree and the direction of force at, in that little space is connection. This is something that is unique to Rickson Gracie. He is one of the first and one of the few who speaks about it. He also tries to teach his students about these principles.

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