The right tool for the right job

One of the students expressed that he was unable to get his butterfly or hook sweep to work on any of his opponents. I could see from his expression that he was skeptical that the hook sweep was even a valid technique! So poor had been his results, that he didn’t think it would really work on anybody!

I assured him that the basic techniques in Brazilian jiu-jitsu DO WORK!

That if he was unsuccessful, it was likely that he was missing a critical detail in the execution of the technique that made him miss it, NOT that the technique itself was flawed or invalid.


He explained that when one of the advanced belts stood up in his guard, that no matter how hard he tried he could not sweep the opponent.

Ah ha! Here is the problem. He was not using the hook sweep in the correct situation. And this brings up the idea of using the “right tool for the right job”.

There is a great saying that illustrates how we can become narrow in our vision in using only one solution for the wrong task: “When all you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.”

Read also: 6 Steps to Fix a Hole in Your Game

I asked the student if they would try to use a guard – cross collar choke if the opponent was standing and trying to pass at distance? “Nope!” But the open guard tripod sweep would work.

Would you use the open guard tripod sweep if the opponent was on top of you close with pressure? “Nope!” But the guard – cross collar choke would work.


He understood the point. Both the cross collar guard choke and the tripod sweep were great techniques, but needed to be employed in the correct situation in order to be effective.

So many times I observe a beginner student frustrated with their inability to get a technique to work.

There are usually 3 main reasons why it is not working:

1) the mechanics of the technique are incorrect
2) the opponent is simply more experienced and effective at countering the technique
3) the technique is the incorrect one for the specific fight situation – the subject of this article!


Read also: 3 Mistakes To Avoid In Your Training

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