Watching the long awaited Danaher leg lock video series, I have been fascinated by the way a number of random leg lock techniques have been organized into a coherent system of setups and controls, all leading to the finish. I have zero commercial interest in saying so, but if you are serious about learning jiu-jitsu, you owe it to yourself to watch this series.
For intermediate to advanced jiu-jitsu students, the real value in my opinion is the idea of organizing your jiu-jitsu positions into “systems”. That is to say that in any position — let’s say butterfly guard — you have a list of individual techniques. Nearly all purple belts probably know all of the butterfly guard sweeps that are in my own butterfly guard system. But the sheer number of weapons is not the most important apsect. The value is how we understand how the individual techniques connect to and augment each other.
The first time I really became aware of the power of having a system was when my home academy hosted a seminar by multiple time World Champion Romulo Barral. The subject was his famous variation of the spider guard. I saw a few new techniques, but I was astounded by how thoroughly Romulo explained the possibilities of the position.
Romulo knew exactly how his opponent was going to react once he secured his famous same side collar grip and spider guard sleeve control. He knew where you were going to try to go when he tried to sweep you and had an answer waiting for your reaction. He understood how all of the seemingly unrelated techniques worked in combination. He had worked out a system in his favorite guard and woe be to his opponents who he managed to get ensnared in his web. He knew where you were going before you knew yourself and had a solution to any problem you may offer.
I’m not a very good spider guard player, but I did leave that seminar with something much more valuable: the understanding of the importance of creating systems in your favorite positions in your game. I examined my game and realized that I had some crude systems already. I needed to follow the example of Romulo Barral’s spider guard and solidify all of those connections.
It can be very humbling to consider how many major positions and guards there are that each have their own systems waiting to be learned. You know your own best positions and systems and how you can give your opponents a difficult time when you draw them into your system.
You realize how little you really know about some positions and how much of a disadvantage you are when battling someone who understands a system in that unfamiliar area.
That is the bad news. There is a heck of a lot of knowledge to try to wrap your BJJ brain around.
The good news is that there are some top instructors who have put their systems in different video instructional series.
A few of my personal favorites are:
Rafael Lovato Jr. Pressure Passing.
David Avellan’s Kimura Trap.
Stephan Kesting’s Knee Bars & Butterfly Guard
Shawn Williams Namesake Guard.
Marcelo Garcia Seated Butterfly guard.
There are doubtless many more that I didn’t mention. It is up to you to find an expert in a system for your favorite position and set about learning and applying your own systems in your jiu-jitsu game.