Blue Belt Advice: Find Your Headquarters

I recently taught several seminars in another jiu-jitsu academy. After the instructional portion of the session, I sat on the mats and discussed different BJJ topics with the students.

One common question in various forms from the blue belts was, “What should I focus on in my training?” This is a big question, and I did my best to answer it in a simple way.

1) Experimentation

This is a topic for another article, but for now let it suffice to say that you should be experimenting with all of the positions and techniques that you are exposed to.

As jiu-jitsu games are highly individual — e.g., in terms of body type, preferred competition rule set, personality, and preference — you need to try it all and see what works for you. Soon enough you will get a solid idea of what works for you and what doesn’t.

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2) A “Headquarters” Position

I borrowed this name from the awesome Rafael Lovato Jr., who uses the term to describe the position where he likes to start his guard passing. I apply the concept to the other main ground positions — especially the guard position!

Your headquarters will be a set of grips or style of guard that you feel most comfortable in. A position from which you can establish control over your opponent and look for your most effective attacks.

For example you might prefer the hand in the collar and sleeve control from the guard. It happens that your favorite and most reliable attack is the triangle, which can be effectively set up from those grips.

Great! We have a starting point for when you end up in your guard. You immediately go for your grips, get your legs into position, and get control.

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Now what other possibilities do you have from this headquarters in addition to your dangerous triangle?

What is the best sweep or two from those same grips? Scissors sweep is a pretty solid option.

What other attacks can you work in combination with that triangle? Omoplata works great with your primary attack. Explore how that can form a potent 1-2 attack with your triangle or scissors sweep.

You see how this line of questions can help you form a mental map for your jiu-jitsu in any position?

Start with your headquarters and develop branches from that starting point.

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