As a Jiu-Jitsu instructor, part of my responsibility is to demystify the facts from myths and fabrications regarding the art. The continued advancements in technology have given us great liberties which calls for great prudence as cushion against blindly believing everything we see. One such example is jiu-jitsu meme I came across recently that claimed ‘Technique is invincible’. Although it did draw out a good laugh from me, it further enhanced the need to cut through falsehoods about the art. do read along the biggest Lie in Jiu-Jitsu;
Technique is NOT Invincible
Jiu-jitsu is a sport that requires a combination of several aspects for one to be competent. Although great technique is vital, when weighed against performance, it is merely a scratch on the surface. Great sportsmanship calls for a good build, strength, and flexibility. Unfortunately, great technique does not always give you leverage.
Having faithfully and tirelessly trained for jiu-jitsu for nearly twenty years, nine of which I have been a black belt holder, I pride myself as having achieved exceptional know-how of the art. Despite such achievement, there are times I have to force my muscle into doing a certain technique as I seek to improve on energy efficiency and precision in my movements. However, I have learnt not to make that a habit by making the wise decision to concentrate on building strength. I look at some of the world greatest jiu-jitsu players and realize that though they are super technical, their strength is undeniable. It is upon such understanding that below equation does and always remains true:
Average Technique + Powerful Build > Great techniques + Poor Build
To solve this equation, lets consider a real example for better relatability:
During a jiu-jitsu open mat session in 2013, a world champion black belt female was overpowered by an average purple belt male of the same size. After barely 6 minutes into the game, the women tapped out close to ten times signaling she stood no chance. This was in no way indication that men ra better players than women at the game. I believe it was an imbalance in physical strength. Inarguably, the man was at an advantage from the onset due to higher testosterone levels and thus stronger connective muscles.
Consider a friend of mine, an ex NCAA linebacker, who is 6”5’ and weighs 300lbs and a brown belt holder. Often times, than I would want to admit, he easily lifts me off the ground and when we do roll, I am absolutely smashed. Whenever this happens, it somewhat stamps the equation above since it has nothing to do with technique since I have trained longer and with much more intensity and frequency than he has. He has always managed to do that because he is much bigger, stronger and heavier than I.
Generally, I weigh approximately 203lbs though this tends to shoot 220lbs due to creatine cycles, strength training, or overindulgences on the holidays. When that happens, I have realized that I easily dominate lesser players and can hold out against stronger players for more extended periods.
Origin of the Myth
Martial Arts Misconceptions: In the 20th Century, there had been a perfected lie sold to the frail players of a secret technique that would allow them defeat the bigger, stronger player. Although the MMA champions of the art helped cut through the lie, the damage had already done as gullible westerners fell prey to the useless martial systems in the market.
Jiu-Jitsu Class Design
Before any serious training in jiu-jitsu as with wrestling and boxing, every player is expected to complete a session of conditioning. This activity makes up the largest percentage of their training with sparring occupying a much smaller portion.
Unfortunately, the modernization of the sport through jiu-jitsu academies, conditioning has become an afterthought rather than a priority. These BJJ schools have thus structured training sessions around teaching and sparring with jumping jacks and push-ups constituting their warm ups.
Royce Gracie Victories
Royce’s outstanding performance in the early UFC Victories fueled the belief that technique was all that was needed to succeed at the sport. I however believe his success was as a result of the following:
Player 1 (Great Technique + Moderate Attributes) >Player 2 (No Technique + Great Attributes)
The matches at the second generation of MMA changed the equation to;
Player 1 (Great Technique + Moderate Attributes) ≥ Player 2 (Little Technique + Great Attributes)
Currently, we can deduce the happenings at the MMA as;
Player 1 (Great Technique + Exceptional Attributes) > Player 2 (Great Technique + Great Attributes)
The Leverage Delusion
Basically, levers are more force multipliers than they are force creators. Leverage is, therefore, efficient use of strength which makes the ideology of strength vs. leverage simply outrageous. It is thus impossible to tweak jiu-jitsu with a pinch of leverage. However, by being mindful, players and coaches have managed to identify vantage points of leverage and employed their strength effectively.
The Good News
Sparring by itself can increase your physical strength to a certain degree. Your genetic limitations such as height does not any way whatsoever put you at a disadvantage. Relative strength diminishes when size increases meaning smaller players in great shape negate the advantages of big players of average shape. Additionally, as a player ages, strength is usually the last attribute to diminish as it can be managed and improved even at old age.
How to Get Stronger
As a male jiu-jitsu player, I would recommend visiting an endocrinologist, if you can afford, for assessment of your hormone levels. Although low testosterone inhibits physical strength, adherence to your doctor’s advice, supplements, and medication have managed to alleviate this concern.
Incorporate gymnastics to your training routine to achieve athleticism and strength functionality.
This activity involves significant gripping and upward body lifting which is great for improving strength and athleticism.
To improve strength, Olympic lifts ands powerlifting is recommended under the supervision of a certified coach. Your performance is your responsibity make an effort that counts.