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Becoming an A+ Competitor with the High Percentage Game
When you have been practicing jiu jitsu for a few years, one term begins to resonate over time with you: high percentage. Eventually, your instructor or a killer competitor teaching a seminar will mention that a particular submission is a high percentage move at the black belt level. It will be said with confidence and deference to the technique, as if you are meant to understand that this particular move should become part of your fundamental game. What does this mean? Are not all techniques worthy of upmost attention?
During John Danaher's Kimura: Enter the System, he makes a distinction between the Kimura from Closed Guard that is commonly taught in most beginner classes and the specifics of the Kimura as he believes it as being at its highest percentage. He even laments that the basic Kimura taught in beginners' classes is seldom seen at the highest levels of competition. The question we need to ask, he asserts, is "why"?
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The greatest challenge of making fundamental techniques work is that most practitioners are more than intimately familiar with them, The Upa Mount Escape, the Cross Collar Choke, the Kimura from Closed Guard and the Americana from Anywhere are all examples of techniques that are taught is fundamentals classes that tend to lose their shine once you arrive at mid-blue belt. When everybody knows, that game becomes all the harder to play.
So is the alternative to seek out the most obscure esoteric techniques on YouTube to surprise your opponents and claim absolute victory? No. Instead, one might be better off to explore how to make your natural moves perfect. I might suggest that you can make any move a high percentage move, but that certain techniques are easier to incorporate into a lifelong game with greater success.
How can you uncover your high percentage moves? On a recent training camp in Europe, I kept close count of what specific techniques led to submissions during my daily sparring sessions. Based on my journal entries, I can unequivocally state that my highest percentage submission is an Arm Triangle. 87% of my submissions over seven hours of sparring sessions were related to the Arm Triangle from the mount or side control. Who knew? I certainly did not until I collected the data and realized that this had become my number one move.
One high percentage maneuver can be found in Lachlan Giles' High Percentage Chokes: No Gi. Despite the title, the "Ten Finger Guillotine" taught in this chapter is a mandatory technique for all players to learn, if only to learn the symptoms of its wrath. It is simply a killer, and it feels like it comes from nowhere. I have tapped to it many a time, and once cinched it will catch your opponents off guard whether it is gi or no gi. Lachlan teaches a wide variety of chokes that include the Marcelotine, the Anaconda, the Japanese Necktie and the Darce. Another added bonus is that he also includes an entire section of narrated rolling so that you can see the techniques in situations.
Another way to make submissions become more high percentage is not need to give up a positional advantage to make them occur. So, for instance, in Bernardo Faria's High Percentage Submissions we find a collection of submissions that string together into a sequence of attacks that can be continuously launched upon your opponent. None of the techniques listed, such as the Ezekiel Choke or the Knee on Belly put you into danger as you attempt to secure a submission. One key concept that Bernardo shares with us, however, is his observation that most high percentage submissions work best after you have scored points through positional gains first, as this forces your opponent to make risky attempts at escapes.
Finally, if you are looking to add an arsenal of IBJJF legal footlocks to your game, then Mikey Musumeci's High Percentage IBJJF Legal Footlocks might be custom-made for you. Musumeci has just won his third gold medal at the 2019 World Championships, so he knows what he is talking about when it comes to percentages. Like Faria, Musumeci leads his student through a progression of attacks until the submission is achieved. One thing that you will notice about Mikey's collection is that it begins with the straight ankle lock and spends an entire DVD looking at this most basic of footlocks. What makes his approach worthy of your time is that he goes into great detail when examining possible reactions his opponent often gives and then progresses from their reactions into the next phases of his attack.
We all have our own "high percentage game", that is, the collection of techniques that comprise the majority of our passes, sweeps and submissions. It takes some time to discover what those magical moves are, but with the collection of a bit of data from your rolls, you, too, can uncover your A+ game. One key point to note is that jiu jitsu demands more than only your highest percentage moves. Over time those techniques may lead to your eventual downfall and disillusionment with the art, however, if you do not continue to up the rates of success with your lowest percentage moves.
Eventually, your regular training partners will discover a way to shut down your hobby-horse moves, and that can lead you to believe that your jiu-jitsu has hit a plateau and the game suddenly becomes insanely difficult, because you simply relied on too few techniques along your journey. Become a lifelong practitioner by digging deep to develop a multi-faceted, high percentage game.
We all have a high percentage game just waiting for us to discover. What is yours going to be?
If you prefer a systematic approach to your Jiu-Jitsu, John Danaher is the man you need! Danaher applies a system to every facet of his teaching. Kimura: Enter The System peels back the curtain on one of the strongest techniques in JIU-JITSU!!