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Developing Your BJJ Game Plan
As you begin to learn more techniques and apply them in live rolling and even on the competition mats early on, you will find yourself gravitating to certain techniques. The reasons can vary as to why you gravitate to a specific position or technique. Perhaps it's your body type, flexibility, or a certain technique simply made more sense and came a little more naturally than others. As you begin to notice that you are using certain techniques more and more often, what you are experiencing is the birth of your BJJ game plan.
Chaining techniques and being able to address counters and reversals by our opponents, while still moving steady forward from dominant positions to eventually secure a submission is one of the signs of a firm grasp on BJJ and typically starts to develop late into the blue belt or even purple belt level when students have amassed a fair knowledge of a number of techniques and begun to shape an early version of their game plan.
In the video below, Bernardo Faria is asked to share his philosophy of game planning and how his mind works as he is going against an opponent. Check it out below and we'll break down some of the key ideas afterwords.
Bring Your Opponent to Your BJJ Game Plan
One of the keys for Bernardo to develop and more importantly to implement your game plan is to bring the opponent into your world as quickly as possible. We must not hesitate and let them pull us into their favorite and best techniques and hope to be able to counter or escape them to get to our favorite positions. We must engage them, address their strengths, and pull them into our most effective techniques as quickly as possible.
For Bernardo, half guard and deep half guard are two of his best, most powerful and dynamic positions. If he is facing someone with great take down skill, whether as a wrestler or a judoka, he does not want to try to enter their place of expertise and try to do battle with them. Instead, he will concede the stand up game and attempt to pull them into the deep waters of his half guard, forcing them to fight their way out or through that guard.
Though this may seem as a defensive posture, it's actually highly offensive in nature, because by going into half guard, Bernardo has struck first and brought them into his world and launched his game plan. And if they hesitate, he will be moving to the next step in his game plan philosophy.
Build Momentum and Connection With Your BJJ Game Plan
Tom DeBlass and Bernardo Faria have similar philosophies regarding the momentum of your game plan. For Tom, he often states that BJJ breeds a mentality where two training partners or opponents trade techniques back and forth. I attempt a technique, then I wait for my opponent to return the favor with their own technique. This volleying back and forth, like tennis is not conducive to a strong jiu jitsu game plan.
Momentum must be developed by moving seamlessly from the initial position where you took them into your world with a follow up technique. Back to the example above, as Bernardo pulls his opponent into half guard, he is already beginning to transition to a deep half position, from which he will be able to sweep his opponent.
Once swept, before the opponent can even begin to recover guard, Bernardo is already moving into his cornerstone pass, the over under pass from his knees. So in a matter of moments, Bernardo has linked the half guard pull, the deep half sweep, and the over under pass to a dominate position like side control. He has effectively neutralized the take down ability of the wrestler/judoka in this example and put them in a precarious position, where they are essentially purely defensive and beginning to wear out.
Develop Different Ways to Get to Your BJJ Game Plan
One of the most important aspects of Bernardo's game plan development philosophy is to develop a variety of ways through which to get where you want with your opponents. With each aspect of our game plan, in this example, the pull to half guard, the deep half sweep and the pass, we must have a number of options that will allow us to thwart anything that the opponent tries to do.
As a high level practitioner, Bernardo might have dozens of different ways to get into half guard, depending on what the opponent presents to him. He may also have a laundry list of half guard and deep half guard sweeps to use against the opponent, again based on what is presented and the type of challenge the opponent gives him. The same goes with his over under pass.
The sign of a well-developed game plan is not necessarily getting from point A to point D, but understanding that there are many different routes one can take. A black belt at Bernardo's level does not just know a simple over under pass against someone who presents a standard basic opened guard. He is able to set up the over under from De La Riva or whatever type of guard the opponent choices to throw at him. And this is not an easy skill to develop, but with time and dedication, you will develop it.
The first step though is establishing your initial game plan, to bring them into your world immediately and begin chaining techniques, building momentum. This will keep your opponent on the ropes and constantly defensive, which burns a lot of psychic and physical energy. Over time, as your opponents throw different obstacles your way, you will develop new and creative ways to accomplish these steps and enact your game plans on virtually anyone.
One of the best things you can do in your pursuit of skills or knowledge is to adapt similar habits to those who are successful in their particular arena. If you are looking to become a millionaire, you should seek out as much information as you can from millionaires and begin to adopt the habits, techniques and mindset of those people. This allows you to learn from their mistakes and can help speed your progress.
Similarly, as we learned in the video above, Bernardo Faria, one of the most successful BJJ athletes in history with five world championships in his resume, he has a very distinct game plan. The game plan is not overly complex and many of his opponents have seen it enacted on others. How can he be so successful with a game plan that is no secret with nothing tricky? It is through the perfect execution of a series of techniques that he has worked through facing every possible contingency and overcome them.
In his game plan, he is constantly trying to bring his opponent's into his world where he best utilize his favorite techniques. So why shouldn't you take advantage of Bernardo's game plan where he is trying to entangle his opponent's in half guard, by checking out his 4 volume instructional "Battle Tested Half Guard" available here. This set will also teach you a variety of ways to get your opponents into you half guard, thereby also strengthening your overall game plan.
Once Bernardo gets his opponent's into his half guard, he is looking to begin building momentum with his techniques and immediately begins to set up possible sweeps. Once he has achieved the sweep, one of his favorite moves to ensure that the opponent doesn't recover their guard is by using the over under pass.
The over under pass is the cornerstone of Bernardo's pressure passing system which is also available from BJJ Fanatics in the 4 volume "Battle Tested Pressure Passing" system. You will now be well on your way to a complete game plan for pretty much the same price as a single BJJ seminar. You will also be able to watch and rewatch the techniques, allowing you to best perfect them.
Once you've passed the guard with pressure that Bernardo's system has taught you, it's a good idea to have some submissions in your arsenal. One of the best resources would be Bernardo's latest release "Omoplata Everyone" available in 4 volumes here from BJJ Fanatics! This will be the final piece of the Bernardo Faria-esque game plan that will have you smashing, passing and tapping your opponents in no time.