Jiu Jitsu, a Team Sport?

Jiu Jitsu, a Team Sport?

There is no “I” in team, but two in “Jiu Jitsu”

This Jiu Jitsu thing can be confusing. Without our team, we wouldn’t be able to train. The importance of having and being good training partners cannot be stressed enough (In fact, we’ve done it before!). Our team not only has a huge impact on how we train, but also why we train. Ask any long time Jiu Jitsu player and they will tell you that even when they have felt like not training for a day or even taking a longer break, their friends at Jiu Jitsu practice always have them coming back. Oddly enough though, at the end of the day Jiu Jitsu is an individual sport. When we step on the mat for a competition, we are there alone. Our coaches, teammates, and families are there to cheer us on but only we have a direct influence on the outcome of the match. Trusting yourself and your Jiu Jitsu is one of the most important components in Jiu Jitsu. If it sounds like we’re talking about two different sports here, that’s okay but it begs the question: how do we reconcile the individuality of Jiu Jitsu with the team atmosphere we love so much? The answer is having focus in training! (Funny how we always end up here, huh?) Jiu Jitsu requires another person to practice with, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t focus on ourselves during training. No matter what we are practicing, there is something we can get out of it for ourselves no matter what our position. Let’s think about a few drills we do and how the “passive” partner can take something away from it instead of just being a drilling dummy!

What to focus on during drills:

Chair sit. The chair sit is our favorite back take to teach our bots. It teaches them a lot about body control, how to create pressure (torque) we can translate to other positions, and is extremely high percentage! If you do the chair sit correctly, it can be INCREDIBLY uncomfortable for your partner. That is exactly what the partner should be taking away from this part of the drill! When we’re on the bottom of a chair sit, we can use that time to identify which grip to fight for first, plan escapes, and identify how to stop ourselves from getting there in the first place. Most importantly, though, is to get comfortable being uncomfortable! If we can feel safe in a precarious position (like the bottom of a chair sit), we will have no problem thinking clearly to outwit our opponent! Calmness under pressure is one of the hallmarks of a Jiu Jitsu player.

Bullfighter. We spend a lot of time practicing the bullfighter! Again, it is a very high percentage guard pass and it is a position we find ourselves in constantly. In fact, 41% of guard passes at the black belt level at the 2012 World Championships were of some variation that we practice from the bullfighter. That’s a lot of quality information for the passer, but what can the guard player do to improve during this drill? They can use that time to practice creating a strong shape with their guard. The passer has to pass from somewhere, right? Why not practice placing your guard like you would for a competition? Grips and hand placement are always useful to practice. Once the guard gets passed, we must quickly figure out how to transition to a safe position. Using this time to practice recovering guard or escaping side control or mount will translate to a better game off of our backs!

“Monkey Passing” Drill. In the Kids Competition class we have started to do this warm-up frequently, where the bots swing from side to side around their partner switching their grips on their knees as they pass. The player on top is working on their agility and “turning the corner” to finish their passes. The player on the bottom can work on creating torque and keeping their feet planted firmly- an important skill for escaping side control or mount (think: hip escape)! Core-strength is also a big component to work on. By keeping our heads off of the mat and cores tight, we are working on strengthening our entire bodies while our partner becomes a better guard passer! If we can think about how we can improve ourselves physically and mentally no matter what we’re doing on the mat, we can improve that much more quickly! When we work together we can find ways to make ourselves better in the process, no matter the focus of the drill! In September’s move of the month (the triangle) the player being submitted can focus on how they will escape the triangle when they encounter it: with knee control and posture!


Do you want your child to develop character while learning to work well with others?  Martial arts offer a unique opportunity for children of all ages to learn self discipline while being active and having fun!  Want to learn more?  Schedule your son or daughter for a free trial class to see if it’s something he or she would want to do!  We’re conveniently located in West Los Angeles / Santa Monica in the 90025 area code.  Contact us for more information!