Does the Move Suck Or Is it Me?
How many times have you watched your coaches or instructors demonstrating a move and thought to yourself, "No way. I'll never pull that off." Or after you repped a move 2-3 times and decided your legs are too short, too long, or you're just not meant to perrform that technique. For me, 10 years ago, it was the triangle choke. I had watched many triangle chokes in those early UFC's and like most casual UFC fans, pretty much knew everything about grappling at that point, so when it came to the first BJJ class where I learned a triangle, I was ready to check it off my list as a technique that I had absorbed, but because it didn't work right away, simply wasn't a technique for me.
The triangle choke is usually taught relatively early in a new practitioner's BJJ journey. It gets lumped in with all of the usual closed guard submission techniques like armbar, cross collar choke, kimura and even maybe the omoplata. Thinking back to the way I was taught the triangle the first time, I smile fondly at how unrealistic the set up really was.
On a completely still, relatively unpostured opponent I hold both wrists and push one between my legs as I ever so graciously throw my thighs around the person's head and begin the process of cutting that perfect angle that never seemed to come as a newbie. For more reasons than I can count, I decided quickly that the triangle didn't work for me. As Tom DeBlass has said many, many times when we give up on a move prematurely, "It's not the move that sucks, it's you that sucks." In his inimitable way, he is simply saying that we have not spent enough time with the technique.
The beauty of jiu jitsu is that once we learn the fundamentals and concepts of the technique, we can begin to take those principles and begin to incorporate them into our personal game. Every practitioner has different leg lengths, hip flexibility levels and other physical factors that can impact their execution of a technique. Over time, you can begin to use the principles to shape different entries that provide new and unique angles that work best for your body type and skill level. The key is to never close our minds completely to a technique and to continue to look for ways that we can incorporate it into our arsenal in a way that works for us.
In the video below, Bernardo Faria hosts a former student from the Marcelo Garcia Academy at his new academy in Boston, Orlando Rymer who according to Bernardo is well-known for the effectiveness of his triangle techniques. Check out this sneaky triangle set up off of a butterfly sweep that you can add to your toolbox today!
Now in my mid-forties after 10 full years of training, I can honestly say that I won't be adding berimbolos or fancy inversion techniques into my game, but I am definitely working on executing the perfect triangle as only I can do it and you should do the same. Keep and open mind and remember it's not the move the sucks. It might just be you. And over time, with some practice, we can all suck less.