An article for Competitive BJJ players.

This article may seem a bit disconnected at times but it will all come together in the end. This is part one. Partly it’s me free-associating things I have experienced or learned, and putting those thoughts down. It’s written for those looking to push their game to the next level and hopefully help with the puzzle we call BJJ.

I've heard many people say "it's all out there", meaning that BJJ is basically free for the taking. That any technique, submission, sweep is readily available and that all you have to do is crack your newest BJJ instructional, hop over to bjjweekly or just do a quick search on YouTube. The thing is, there is so much more than meets the eye. I'm not talking about transformers, but instead the transformation of BJJ you will experience as you grow in the gentle art.

The web is filled with great video content, awesome moves, great matches and high-flying tricks and submissions. There are also plenty of technical basics. How to escape mount, pass the guard and choke your buddy out. And in the abyss there are some real gems, but it's like finding a needle in a haystack. How do you know what to look for? How do you know if it's a high percentage move? How do you plug into your game?

These questions have answers but the answers are below the surface, and they are not something you can answer on your own if you are looking to push your game to the next level. The only way to get the answers is to find someone who can answer these questions for you. I will get back to this a little bit later.

I come from a college football background where watching film was the best way to break down someone's game. Therefore, I watch at least 5-10 hours a week of matches. No audio, just breaking down matches. When I see something of interest like a game changing moment, I watch it over and over. Sometimes it may be 1-2 seconds and I might watch it 20-30 times or more. What I am not looking for is how to submit someone or at that incredible cartwheel pass. What I'm looking at the persons timing and movement.

I feel that the most important technique in BJJ is how to move, when to move, and the pace at which you move. If you can control these things you will always stay a step ahead of your opponent. If you are a step ahead of your opponent, they will be forced to make a mistake and give up points or a submission. The key is to make them give it to you and for you to know when that time is.

This takes us to a new level of consciousness. Conscious of which muscles are firing, your opponents breathing pattern, knowing if they are in stress or ready to explode. The exact time they loosen their grip allowing you to strip it. You need to be conscious of everything around you with a clear mind. This can't happen when your body is failing due to fatigue. Your mind is strong when your body is strong and you can't meet your full potential without meeting your physical potential.

Jiu-Jitsu is like an iceberg. And icebergs live in a hostile environment. Most of the iceberg is below the surface where there is no oxygen. It’s dark and cold. If you are a species that lives here, you are a superior species and have surely adapted to the environment. This leads me to my next point.

I've always loved basketball. I used to play AAU, we would travel around the country playing the top teams from other states. The thing with AAU is all the top guys around our state would get on one team and it was highly competitive. I was the first one to dunk the ball, the summer before 8th grade. By the end of the year half the team was dunking the ball. Not because we were all 6'5" but because the bar was raised and everyone started jumping higher. We all adapted, we moved faster, jumped higher, grew stronger. We were in an environment where it was eat or be eaten. If we were Spartans, the hardwood was our wilderness. Guess what though, without a coach who knows the game inside and out, a coach who can break us down and put together a dynamic offense and defense like the great wall of china, we were just a bunch of athletes with potential.

I’ll leave you with this thought. Why do the same guys win tournaments time and time again, year after year?

To be continued…

Pete Roberts