A black belt that I recently met and rolled with, Ben Tallini of Tai Kai Jiu Jitsu in Syracuse, NY made an interesting post on Facebook about people attacking chokes from inferior positions and abandoning their fundamentals specifically bottom mount. Me being me, I commented about the potential potency of chokes when applied in these positions by intelligent practitioners, specifically Magid Hage’s infamous, consciousness extinguishing baseball bat choke came to mind…
Tallini’s response to this inspired some serious thought and reflection from me:
“(Magid Hage) has black belt fundamentals. When the new rage of crappy white blue and new purples are putting more reps into that than learning how to escape then we have an issue.”
I get questions from newer teammates all the time about some of the funkier stuff I play with, specifically unusual open guards. More often than not I tell people to focus on closed guard at first and then build their way up to hitting the same moves that they hit in closed guard with their guard open, and then they can develop from there into hitting those techniques from positions that may not even appear logical.
Develop fundamentals before developing unorthodoxy. Or at the very least, spend more time on your fundamentals than you do on unorthodox techniques. The truth is that while unorthodox techniques can catch people off guard and can work on those who are unsuspecting, if there are no fundamentals to back them up and the opponent knows the counter you might wind up in trouble.
Fundamentals are boring. I hate to say this, but it’s true. Drilling a simple movement thousands of times can get extremely tedious. However, if you actually want to get good at grappling you need fundamentals. Fortunately the same thing that makes fundamentals boring also makes them relatively simple to master (note I said simple, not easy.) Though the devil is in the details most fundamental techniques don’t have many steps.
As tempting as drilling and mastering Berimbolos and x guard might be, until you have a firm grasp on the overarching concepts of balance, off balancing and movement dynamics you are essentially building a really nice looking house on a poorly constructed foundation.
Fundamentals are important, focus on them more than you focus on advanced, esoteric or unorthodox techniques and your jiu jitsu will greatly benefit.