Experiment With Your Jiu-jitsu

Students of jiu-jitsu who attend class regularly and follow the guidance of their instructor make the best long term progress. Having a qualified black belt instructor can save one literally years of trial error trying to figure things out.

It is important however for BJJ students to take a proactive roll in their learning. Jiu-jitsu addicts will look for many different sources to learn from.

The Gracie Barra teams around the world have YouTube channels where instructors share technique variations with everyone. Check out the weekly GB Blog posts where GB features techniques from a different position.

One of the most important things a jiu-jitsu student can do to both widen and deepen their understanding of jiu-jitsu is experiment.

Experiment with:
~ new open guard styles. Which open guard of the many different types will stick with you and become your favorite guard game?

One of my black belt friends compiled a list of different guards :

Basic Closed Guard
High Guard
Rubber Guard
Shawn Williams Guard
Standard Open Guard
Spider Guard
Butterfly Guard
De la Riva Guard
Reverse de la Riva
Cross Guard
Sitting Open Guard
Upside Down Guard
The Half Guard
Deep Half Guard
Z Guard
X Guard
Sitting Half Guard
Instep Guard

and so on…
This list should provide you with plenty of material to experiment with!


~ Variations of your favorite techniques. For every basic method of a well known technique, there are multiple variations. Take a look at the basic triangle choke from the guard. How many different configurations is it possible to trap an opponent’s arm and head with your legs? How else can you attack the triangle?

~ Perhaps the most beneficial way for you to experiment in.your jiu-jitsu is with your best training partners. Get a spot on the mat to drill some positions that you are interested in.

Now take that technique and deconstruct it. Ask “What is the role of each hand? Each foot? Where should my bodyweight be?”

Once you have the basic technique down, now experiment. What happens when you change your grip? Where does the technique break? What if your opponent does this…does that? Ask each other “What makes the technique work. What makes it fail?”

By experimenting with positions, your understanding of WHY techniques work (or don’t work!) will deepen and at the same time you will begin to look at ALL jiu-jitsu positions more analytically.

Now go experiment and have fun!

See also on Gracie Barra : GB Techniques: Self Defense

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ