After the first year or two of BJJ most guys tend to find and develop their own games. Naturally, we gravitate towards our strengths and avoid uncomfortable areas.
While this is natural, it isn’t in our best long term interests. We should try to develop a “universal” jiu-jitsu — a game that is primarily comprised of techniques that work gi, no-gi and against strikes. We should also look to develop a balanced jiu-jitsu between stand up, top, and bottom positions.
Here are six bad habits that I’ve been guilty of and maybe you are also!
1) Always jumping to guard
After the fist bump in the academy one guy usually pulls a bottom position to get things going.
But if you never train takedowns and only rely on pulling guard to address the stand-up to ground transition, you are neglecting a huge part of being a complete fighter. If you want to win on the ground, you better have some solid takedowns to get an uncooperative opponent to the ground!
2) Technically flawed escapes
I recall one MMA fighter that I coached who was very flexible and athletic. To escape the mount, he would throw his legs up to catch the top opponent and knock him over. He got away with it more often than not.
I cautioned him this was not a sound strategy because if he missed it, it left his opponent in an extremely high mount with knees right under his armpits. He shrugged off my advice. Hey, it was working for him, wasn’t it?
His next pro fight was against a high-level grappler who countered the escape and ended up in high mount. He got pounded from the top.
I guess he should have listened!
3) Allowing bad positions too casually
I had a bad habit of allowing opponents to mount from side control as it would be easier to escape from mount.
However, it was not a wise strategy to allow my opponents to move up the positional chain. There is a reason Roger Gracie moves to mount on black belts. Giving mount to your opponent is not a good long term strategy to develop.
4) Relying only on gi grips
I found out the hard way when my work schedule changed and I could only attend no-gi classes. Where is your spider guard now, playboy?
This is why universal jiu-jitsu is important.
5) Avoiding some positions
You may want to avoid some positions. Bottom half guard is a good example. You just don’t feel comfortable there.
But these positions are going to happen in matches despite your efforts to avoid them. You better develop at least a basic game there.
A friend made the analogy that “the yoga pose that you avoid is ironically the one you need most.” Perhaps you need to correct a weak spot.
6) Midget wrestling
This is my derogatory term for when rolls start on the ground, but both parties are wrestling from the knees. This is a useless skill. Do you ever see any of that in self-defense, MMA, or ADCC? If you want to start on the ground, have one guy work from the bottom.
Forget the ridiculous midget wrestling!