So what is it that a BJJ practitioner needs most of all to succeed on the mat? Everyone has their own ideas, of course, but you’ll find that as you talk to people who are more experience, most of them will tell you that between 60% to 80% in BJJ is perfection in technique.
If you focus upon technique and perfect execution of technique, you will see corresponding success on the mats.
And when you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. What is BJJ but learning to use stronger, heavier muscles against the weaker muscles of your opponent, so that it’s absolutely impossible for him or her to counter your technique. Because BJJ is based upon using much heavier muscle groups and stronger muscle complexes against significantly weaker ones, an opponent would have to be between three to ten times stronger than you to counter a move that has been perfectly executed.
Technique itself encompasses so many subtle variations and movements. For example, you need to know how to position correctly and to navigate from one position to another, so as to maintain your advantage over your opponent.
You need to know not only how to get your opponent to submit, but also how to evade the attempts by an opponent to put you into a submission.
However, if think that you need to have a large repertoire of techniques, you’re mistaken.
It’s not necessary to know a vast number of techniques, but rather how to use them powerfully and effectively, and just as importantly, which technique to use at which moment in the course of a session on the mats.
It’s perfectly alright to experiment with moves and to try them out.
I would indeed recommend that you do this, and then focus on fine-tuning and refining those moves that work extremely well for you. Everyone’s musculature and neural pathways are unique, and so this means that application of technique is also unique to the individual, and what works well for you may not work well for someone else. As a matter of fact, this uniqueness in application of technique is what makes BJJ so interesting, as each exponent pits his or her skills against the others.
So, learn what techniques work best for you and then refine them carefully in repetitive sessions on the mats.
Practice these techniques again and again until you can virtually apply it in your sleep. It’s only after you get to this stage that you should try to apply these techniques using some strategy. In time you will be able to study your opponent’s strength and weaknesses, and then use your techniques to downplay his or her strength and take advantage of his or her weaknesses.
Now, I haven’t focused much upon strength, because technique is more important, but this doesn’t mean to say that strength is irrelevant.
You’ll need to improve the amount of power you can generate in movements, because this is a part of BJJ after all. You need to be careful when doing strength training because you don’t really want to ‘bulk up’ – instead, what you need is a powerhouse power-to-weight ratio.
You’ll find that free-weight dumbbell exercises are actually best to increase and enhance upper body strength, while single-leg exercises are great to build up leg strength that is effective in combat.
This is because exercises that use a single limb allow for greater unconscious variation during repetitions and therefore engage more muscle fibers.
When you’re generating sufficient power in techniques, you will find that the merging of technique and strength creates perfect BJJ.