It takes a LOOOONNNGG time for most of us who are not named BJ Penn to achieve a brown or black belt in BJJ. The techniques that we use naturally evolve as we gain an understanding of them.
When you first start out, you concentrate on the basic techniques: those signature moves of BJJ that everyone knows – moves that you could very likely learn in your first BJJ class. The scissor sweeps, the Americana, the hip bump sweeps, and others fall in this category.
Later, as your technical skills accumulate, you want to explore some of the more advanced positions such as De la Riva guard and inverting and deep half.
But a curious thing happens once many practitioners reach brown and black belt. Instead of looking for even more new positions, they come full circle to rediscover those basics they learned back when they started.
Perhaps they discarded these moves because they “didn’t work against advanced guys” or because a basic technique that everyone knows can’t possibly be as good as an advanced, fancy move.
But now that they are brown and black belts, they have a much deeper understanding of the weight placement, precise timing, correct leverage, and proper use of these basic moves. These old techniques suddenly becomes new again once a deeper understanding of the essence of why and how they work comes into play.
At he highest levels of the sport, we see professional fighters submit to that same old rear naked choke, guillotine, and Americana lock. Curiously, there are few submissions due to advanced techniques that create more interest in the academy.
Why is this?
Quite simply, the basic techniques work! They became basic techniques because they have proven themselves over many battles to be effective. They usually have shorter movements and fewer steps involved.
When I became a new brown belt I seemed to suddenly become aware of an entirely new level of technical precision in many of the basic moves I had dismissed as a beginner. My head instructor was submitting me with the same moves that he showed in the Fundamentals class.
I renewed and rediscovered the Kimura, scissors sweep, and cross collar choke from the guard. There were so many details that I had been unaware of before.
When I speak with other black belts, they all have their favorite advanced positions, but the majority express how they have returned their focus on the basics.
So, the next time your instructor shows a move that you’ve seen before, suspend your scepticism and take a deeper look at the basic technique.
It may well become new again for you.
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