There is a talent that we don’t hear about much in jiu jitsu: dexterity. By dexterity I mean the ability to move oneself intelligently and at the right moment. This is a crucial part of coordination that we develop over time as we train. There are some ways to speed the learning process up but it is by far one of the most difficult tools to really master.
Hip dexterity relates to the ability of a person to move their hips at the right moment and in the right way. In jiu jitsu, hip dexterity translates to a person’s understanding of the moment at which their guard is about to get passed coupled with the ability to shrimp, recovery and attack simultaneously. This is a very valuable skill set as it allows us to attack at moments when our opponents are mobile. It’s also one of the most difficult things to truly master in BJJ.
Another important kind of dexterity is foot dexterity. My coach/teacher always talks about trying to learn to use your feet as hands. In many situations he will follow my hips with his feet so that I cannot really free myself of his guard. It is super annoying, and super effective.
Dexterity is something you can build up by drilling, but it is not a single set of moves and thus it can only really be mastered over a long period of time. I’ve found that solo mobility drills help and slowing moves down so that I begin to understand the intricacies of them really helps.
When I first started training seriously, I would get caught in submissions because of my training partners’ dexterity in contrast with my lack thereof. As my training has progressed my understanding of that dexterity has improved immensely. The way I gained that understanding was by drilling with partial resistance. As I get better at a move I have my training partner increase their resistance. In doing this I know how and when to exert myself when doing moves thus improving my dexterity.
Another aspect of dexterity is grip dexterity. Specifically, knowing when to squeeze a grip and when to leave your grip relaxed is very valuable and important to skill development. Your grip is not stronger than another person’s entire body; therefore if you rely entirely upon the strength of your grip, you will wind up hurting your hands. Knowing this, development of tactile sensitivity is crucial to long term grip dexterity.
What do you do to improve your dexterity? Do you find that sensitivity and dexterity go hand in hand? Or do you find that dexterity is a stand alone skill set that must be developed by itself? There are plenty of aspects that I didn’t cover regarding dexterity and its importance and use in jiu jitsu, and it’s a difficult subject to really discuss but it is extremely important to be aware of it.