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Details! – The Idea of Advanced Basics

Details The Idea of Advanced Basics

More and more, when I have conversations with advanced belts who have been training for several years, they say that they have returned their training focus to the “basic” techniques. Hip bump sweeps, over/ under guard pass, cross collar choke from the guard. All techniques you commonly see demonstrated in the Fundamentals class at Gracie Barra.

After spending years and many hours on the mats performing advanced spider guard sweeps and gogoplatas, they find their training efforts returning to those “old school” techniques.

read also: Don’t Ignore the Basics : Advanced Techniques Too Quickly

Why is this?
Because we see, even at the highest levels of IBJJF competition (and certainly in MMA!) the submissions in black belt matches usually result from basic techniques like bow and arrow choke or straight armlock. And if you have ever rolled with a high level black belt you may have found yourself submitting to the basic cross collar choke from mount (a favorite of Roger Gracie against other world class blackbelts!).

How are they still able to submit black belts (who most certainly know the counters and defence) with these same basic techniques?



The black belt knows the details that make these basic techniques REALLY WORK. Details that prevent the opponent’s defence from even starting; overcoming the defence and using superior angles and leverage to maximize the power and sharpness of the choke or armlock.

Example: When I was a bluebelt, I could SHOW you an armlock and teach you 5 details on how to perform the basic movement. But many times my opponents would frustratingly escape my armlock attempts. After studying several years with a black belt who specialized in arm bars, I now had additional details that prevented my opponents common escapes and my success went up.

During a training trip to Rio de Janeiro, I took some private lessons with a top instructor and learned even more details on how to set up my opponent for the arm lock. I was astonished at how much depth there can be to even the most basic techniques!
~ How to grip for best control
~ Correct timing to execute the technique
~ Common defences to expect
~ What typically goes wrong
~ Where to place your weight
~ How to use in combination with another technique

When you hear the expression “advanced basics” understand that there are many layers of complexity that make a technique REALLY effective. How else can you explain that world class black belts are getting submitted by a basic cross collar choke?


The next time you observe a basic technique that you already know being demonstrated, pay attention. You just might hear a new detail that brings your own basic technique closer to black belt level.

read also:The Evolution of Skill – From Fundamentals to Advanced

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ

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