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Can Aggression Beat Skill?

Can Aggression Beat Skill?


Jiu Jitsu is often referred to as the gentle art but is bjj really a gentle art?  We have all gone against that guy that treats every roll like it is the final match of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships.  Every match is to the death.  We know these overly aggressive people, but is this a bad characteristic to have in Jiu Jitsu? 

This is a tough question to answer and it also begs another question.  What are your goals from training bjj?  What is it that you want to accomplish?  With the rapid growth in popularity, Jiu Juitsu has attracted all walks of life.  With this growth, the growth of bjj tournaments and professional events has also grown exponentially.  This growth has led to a new breed  of bjj practitioner and competitor.  Many people these days want to become world champion.  There are people at almost every academy that train 6 days a week 6 hours a day with the one track mind of becoming a world champion.  We also have many people who still just want to train bjj recreationally.  So at Jiu Jitsu schools we have all walks of life and people with different goals.

Some of these guys that want to be world champion train everyday extremely hard.  This training leads them to have an extremely aggressive approach on their rolling.  Is this aggression good, can it beat skill?  That is also tough to answer.  Aggression definitely has its benefits, if you train hard for every roll you will develop insane cardio and heart, you will also learn to execute techniques at a high pace, and you will also learn your limits.

Aggression for Cardio/Heart

Aggression definitely has its place in Jiu Jitsu and bjj is by no means the “gentle art.”  When you begin training hard every day for every roll, you will start to progress at faster rate.  You will also start to develop insane cardio and this cardio can take a bjj practitioner very far.  Although training aggressive may not benefit an older guy who can’t train much and may lead to injury, it is not bad for a young and hungry competitor. 

When you train this hard and you develop this aggression, your cardio explodes.  If you have ever competed in bjj you know that a big bracket can tire you out quickly, you also know that there is an enormous adrenaline dump and your first match will be extremely difficult.  This adrenaline dump stems from nerves and other variables that affect your performance at a tournament.  If you have been training hard and rolling aggressively every day, than the pace of a competition match will be nothing new, replicating competitive matches is very difficult and requires the right training partners.

This is why aggression can be a great thing.  Aggression can also help you to beat somebody that may be a bit more technical than you are, if you have the cardio to up keep an extremely high pace but your opponent does not, even if they have better technique, if you are extremely aggressive and keep up a high pace, they will tire and gas, once you tire, your technique is useless.  Even if the best black belt went into match and was completely gassed from lack of training, somebody near the same level can easily win off of their aggression.  The negative side of rolling aggressive very often is that it can increase your risk of injury. When you are moving that fast and hard, it is easy to create unpredictable movement and this is one of the biggest contributing factors to injury. Want to see a pretty aggressive sweep from a Marcelo Garcia Black Belt who is known for his aggression? Check out this technique below with Matheus Diniz.

Aggression for Muscle Memory

Muscle memory is one of the most important parts of becoming a high level practitioner.  If you train at a higher pace often and are constantly aggressive in the academy you will be able to develop your muscle memory for more realistic situations. For instance, when you train hard and use aggression often, you are training your body to memorize movements at a rapid pace and you will be able to have excellent muscle memory.  If you train techniques light, it is good for understanding the concepts but being able to execute them fast and hard is a whole other ball game and training aggressively can help with this.

Methods of training have their place, it is good to train aggressively sometimes and it is good to train light.  You want to be able to understand the principles of a technique and the mechanics but you also want to be able to do the moves fast.  Timing is everything in bjj, timing and patience are what separates an elite practitioner from a regular one.  We all have the ability to learn the same techniques.  For example, we know that the Miyao brothers like the Berimbolo and Bernardo Faria like the half guard, we can learn the mechanics of how they execute their techniques but what segregates them from the rest of us is their timing.  How do they develop this timing?  They use the same techniques over and over and train hard so they are able to utilize these moves easily.  If they constantly play the same game and incorporate aggression, they will develop muscle memory and timing and this is a lethal combination.

So back to our initial question, does aggression beat technique? Yes, it can and it will very often but not always.  Black Belt World Champion, Caio Terra has a saying that “Technique conquers all.”  This is very true, but technique, tenacity, and timing can carry you a long way in bjj.  6x World Champion, Rafael Mendes, considered by many one of the most dominant competitors ever said that he always trained like it was a competition.  He hated losing and always rolled as hard as he could so that when it came time to compete, it was easy.

So you want to develop your aggression but you’re not sure where to start?  Well, we just recently dropped a new DVD with Marcelo Garcia Black Belt, Matheus Diniz called “Start to finish Submissions.”  This DVD is excellent for developing your aggression because every pass, sweep, and take down ultimately ends in a submission.  Matheus walks you through his thought process on how he rolls and what he is thinking.  He is always thinking about the end goal much like his teacher, the legendary competitor, Marcelo Garica.  He shows us this philosophy which will help you develop aggression.  Matheus will do one move to do another and another so he ultimately is setting up a sweep, he is doing step 1, but only with the goal of achieving step 5.  For example, if he gets the under hook from half, comes up, tries to sweep by faking, and his opponent pushes back, he can now capitalize on a guillotine.  This is always his train of thought and this is why he is considered my many on of the most aggressive black belt competitors today.


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