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The Easiest and Most Effective Guard Pass for Everyone
Let's face it: jiu jitsu is hard. And I'm not even talking about berimbolos or spider guard Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at first glance is incredibly complex and to become even relatively at adept closed guard, half guard, pressure passing, or even any type of passing requires thousands upon thousands of hours of training. The generally accepted time frame for the average practitioner to expect to spend sweating and rolling towards their black belt in BJJ is ten years. This time commitment is comparable to a physician's journey to their own practice.
Interestingly, studies show that the vast majority of students who begin medical school make it to the finish line and become physicians. Some statistics say it is as high as 96% of students who enter their first class, make it to their own doctors offices. Conversely, the generally accepted statistics for the number of people who make it to black belt is somewhere around 5% of the people who step on the mats for the first time, will be awarded that coveted black belt. Let that sink in. For real.
This is definitely something to think about and should be a motivating factor in your journey and making sure you get there. But it is also a cautionary tale, that sometimes life can put obstacles in our way that we need to work through. And don't forget, berimbolos are hard, mmkay.
When you stop and think that in the time it can take to develop a half decent half guard, you could earn a Bachelors Degree, it can put things into a daunting perspective. What are some things we can do to make sure that we get to the black belt finish line, although it's not a finish line, but that's another article for another time?
Focus on the Easy
Let's give you a moment or two to laugh about the header. What in the world could "focus on the easy" mean in related to BJJ? I mean, do you even train bro?
Let's define easy and how I mean it here. The easiest moves would be the ones that you are able to absorb quicker or execute with the least frustration from the start. Many of BJJ's techniques seem to require a complete rewiring of our nervous system and endless hours of drilling to build the proper muscle memory, but as you continue to train, there will be certain moves that you find yourself gravitating towards.
Maybe you have a certain body style that makes the move easier. I have seen a number of training partners over the years become deadly with triangles because they had some of the longest legs I've ever seen. This made it easier for them to lock up the triangle with less need to make bodily adjustments which can make it slower and more likely the opponent will defend.
Perhaps your coach or instructor tends to specialize in a certain position or technique and in class you tend to see a higher percentage of classes dedicated to this position. The immersion in one particular position would also help make it 'easier' because you would be exploring it from a variety of angles and most likely come away with a better understanding.
Whatever the reason you find a particular technique or position easier to apply to your game, make it your goal to be perfect at this position. Let's say you want to follow in the footsteps of a Tom DeBlass and develop a stronger half guard because you find yourself gravitating to the position in your training. Similarly to Tom who began playing a lot of half guard as a blue belt, you will want to keep learning and exposing yourself to other techniques, but you will always keep half guard as a foundation of your game.
Your goal once you establish this "easy" position or comfortable position should be to explore it until you understand it backwards and forwards. You need to have multiple sweeps from every possible version of half guard. You need to understand all of the different reactions or counters to half guard your partners and opponents can give you. You may see this initially as making yourself a one trick pony, but at the end of the day, having perfect half guard will take more effort and work than learning all of the other guards combined with only a superficial level of knowledge.
Focus on the Effective
By focusing on the "easy" or the technique that you gravitate towards for whatever reason, you will be able to build a foundation to focus on the most effective techniques that come from that position. By investing your energy early in making sure the high percentage moves are proficient, you will build a level of BJJ that will be able to handle itself whenever something new is thrown at them, because you will always have the old standbys to fall back up.
All of us have a finite amount of time to, spend on the mats. Even the world class athletes who train full time are limited to 24 hours in a day. I know that sounds ludicrous and most are probably training only around 8 hours a day at the most to allow for recovery and other activities, but the point is, we must maximize to the best of our ability, the time we have to spend. Therefore, focusing on the most effective elements of a position or technique and spending our time investing in learning them will pay much better than investing a little bit of time in a wide variety of techniques.
In the video below, world class competitive phenom, Keenan Cornelius demonstrates one of the easiest and most effective pressure passes that all of us learn within the first few months of training BJJ, the double under pass. Not only does Keenan offer some great insights into the execution of the technique, but notice particularly Keenan's thoughts on the "double" grip. Very interesting.
So now that you know not to make the long road to black belt any harder than it is, by building your jiu jitsu knowledge around the techniques that come easier or you tend to gravitate towards. These also tend to be the techniques that you have the most success with early on and become your most effective weapons. Some may argue that this is a lazy approach to BJJ, but at the end of the day, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is predicated on the idea of being the most efficient form of combat on the ground. Being efficient usually means to expend the least amount of effort in the execution of a move or technique. If that's lazy, then sign me up.
And while you're at it, check out the timeless and effective techniques offered by two of the OGs of jiu jitsu and vale tudo, Luis Heredia and Murilo Bustamante. Luis Heredia is often referred to as Rickson's "Hitman" because of his tenacity and skill. HIs "Pure Jiu Jitsu" will give you everything you need to develop a game built on the solid fundamentals. Bustamante, a legend in grappling and combat will bring the pressure to your game with his "Old School Crushing Pressure and Submissions". Both of these resources and many more are available at BJJ Fanatics in DVD and On Demand formats.