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Phases: “Oh you fancy, huh?”

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There are a lot of different submissions in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They all pretty much stem from these body parts: the wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, hip, knees, and ankles. Hundreds of moves and variations of moves have been created to attack these parts. This is not even counting cranks and slicers. This is why Jiu-Jitsu is still an evolving sport.

With all these moves, it is natural for us to try out different ones to see which ones best fit our body type. I myself have gone through a lot of phases. To my knowledge, my submission learning process went something like this: kimura -> guillotine -> omaplata -> triangle -> armbar -> bow n arrow -> triangle armbar -> cross choke -> crucifix. Upside-down guard to triangle was somewhere in there. Each one of these phases represents at least two months of me trying to finish with one of the moves.

Learning these moves, for me, was always about trying to get fancier and fancier. It wasn’t until I discovered some small details in the basic cross choke from mount and heard some helpful pointers from high level instructors that made me remodel my Jiu-Jitsu game. In an interview on thefightworkspodcast a while back, I heard Lloyd Irvin talking about high percentage moves. He was talking about his way of teaching and how he had studied black belts in big tournaments (like the Pans and Worlds) and developed a list of the highest percentage finishes. He stated, “If you want to be successful, you got to model success.” Along with Lloyd Irvin, Dave Camarillo stated in an interview shortly after that John Danaher (A very, very, very intelligent grappler) does the same thing.

If you think about it, how often do you see omaplatas or gogoplatas being finished in black belt matches? Not much or any at all these days. Now how about armbars, triangles, and chokes from the back? A lot. Same goes for MMA. These are high percentage moves and they are what most high level players use for their A game.

In the same interview with Lloyd Irvin, he talked about how top judo players only have 2-4 moves max that they use in tournaments, but that doesn’t mean they can’t show you every single throw there is in the book. I mean just because you never see Roger Gracie do leg locks, doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to do it. Lloyd also stated his students use smaller tournaments to practice their B and C game with stuff they wouldn’t normally do in a big tournament. In the big tournaments, they bring their A game and until their A games gets shut down, will you see their B game.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s good to be exposed to and experiment with a variety of moves, but as you get better and face harder opponents, you will tend to fall back to the jiu jitsu basics (at least for submissions), which are normally the high percentage moves. Although moves like omaplatas don’t work as good against the higher belts, they are still useful for sweeps, transitions, and against lower belts. Some moves are not for everyone due to size and flexibility, but experiencing with new moves will also help you defend against that same move. Can you imagine Roger getting cross choked from mount or Marcelo getting RNC’d? I can’t.