I asked a BJJ student the other day, “What are you working on in your game?”
The student asked me what I meant by his “game.”
I answered with questions of my own: “What are your best positions? The most effective techniques for you?”
Each student will develop a game based on their physical attributes, the influence of instructors and training partners, and their own personality. This game tends to reveal itself “organically” in the first year of training.
What seems to work for you? What positions do you seem to find yourself in often in a a roll? Where do you feel most comfortable?
Most students will say they have had some success rolling with partners close to their level with a certain guard, sweep, or submission.
That is a great starting point. Many World-level competitors that are known for specific positions were experiencing success with those same positions way back when they were blue belts. Early on, they developed a preference for a position, and over years of training, honed it to a razor edge.
For example, check out this video on the evolution of Romulo Barral’s spider guard.
Once you have an answer for which positions you feel are your strongest, there are some further questions that you can ask to start to further develop your game.
What are the key techniques from that position?
If you are getting good at the Kimura from side control, what other submissions are considered to be tried and true from side? How might they combine with your Kimura for a strong combination attack?
The paper cutter choke tends to combine well with Kimura for example.
What are the strongest options from that position?
If you feel at home in spider guard we can look at top level guys who also employ spider guard and ask, “What are their primary attacks and strategy from that position?” Most spider guard players have an arsenal of sweeps and triangle or omoplata attacks and setups. This will give you are direction for further research.
How is your opponent going to deal with your game?
By learning to defend your own game, you will gain invaluable knowledge on what it takes to be effective at your game. You gain understanding on what it takes to apply and counter a technique from both sides.
If you want to have a great guillotine choke, also learn how the guillotine is countered. Now you know what your opponent is trying to take away from you and you can tighten your guillotine.
Read also on Jiu-jitsu Times: Stuff Your Coach Yells