Friday, February 17, 2012

Jiu Jitsu Algebra


I am going to be reprinting some old classic entries from my previous blog called The Angry Grappler. It will chronicle the evolution in my understanding of martial arts.
10 May 2009 @ 08:18 pm

I was speaking to a white belt and he asked me to explain to him how to do the gogoplata. I told him not to waste his time.

First of all the gogoplata is a very advanced moved. I used to think when Brazilians wouldn't show you a move, it was because they were holding back. This idea still goes around BJJ circles and is a reason a lot of people left their academies.

But now it makes more sense. Why certain moves makes no sense to teach to a beginner. Private lessons and even seminars make no sense to give to a white belt. Why?

Well it's like why am I going to let you borrow my running shoes when you don't even know how to tie your shoes yet? Or why am I going to teach you how to use your x-guard when your half guard and butterfly guard is not even functional yet? It makes no sense. Your butterfly guard is about 20% effective, then your x-guard will only be 5% effective. Which then you will abandon the move, say your school sucks and quit before you get your purple.

Same with this white fish asking me about the gogoplata, omaplata, and then he asked me about the rubberguard.

I've seen him roll and asked him when he uses these moves? He says he mainly does it when he's dead tired...when he is desperate.

So I rolled with him and realized he was really ineffective in pulling me into his closed guard so by the time I get in there, he's already tired himself out and he goes for those moves. Why? Because it takes flexibility but not a whole lot of energy.

Imagine you are playing basketball. You can make a 3 pointer usually 1 out of 6 times but you love it. Now when you are tired you make a 3 pointer 1 out of 8 times. But with lay ups you make 5 out of 6 times, tired or not. Now with this knowledge would you change your basketball strategy? Same with jiu jitsu.

Let me break this down into numbers so it isn't so ambiguous. Math is full of rules. Literature is up for interpretation. Jiu Jitsu is more like math than it is literature.

A gogoplata has a 10% chance of finishing your opponent. An omaplata has a 8-12% chance of finishing your opponent. This is jiu jitsu so let's not take into account points or sweeps at this moment and just look at finishes. Now let's use a scoring system. If you can create 10 points, you will finish your opponent. Controlling a hip is 3 points, a leg 2, an arm 2, the head 3.

Now why does a gogo have such a low percentage? A good submission should be your body muscles + body weight against their limb or vital point. A gogo is your shin vs their body. Nothing is absolute, it can happen but not often. An armbar from the bottom done correctly while using the legs to break the posture, climb the legs up, control an arm, wrap their leg to sweep, swing the leg over the face and sweep and finish has a 80% chance of finishing if done right. This simple beginner armbar from the bottom controls their hip as one of your feet will be pressing against their hip, you will grab their leg, control their arm, press down on their head with the back of your hamstrings.

A gogo does not control their hips, nor their legs, or even arms. Even if you are able to grab their head, then that is usually the only control position. A lot of new people panic tap when they were not in any serious danger because of the gagging reflex caused by the shin.

So an armbar from bottom earns 3 + 2 + 2 + 3 = 10. Effectiveness is 80% tired or not. Gogoplata earns 3 points if you control their head. Effectiveness is 10% and drops when you are tired.

Knowing these numbers will you change your jiu jitsu strategy? Also knowing the fact you are so tired in your guard is because you spend so much energy pulling someone into your guard, you are using submissions that require you to exert the least amount of energy. Would that make you want to try to then become more efficient at getting the closed guard so you can use 100% of your energy in submitting your opponent?

You want to increase your points and your percentages as much as possible in BJJ. BJJ does not rely on mysticism or any hocus pocus martial arts magic. It's based on logic, reason, and sound physics. But we are also human and theres other things involved, like pain compliance and breaking of wills. Which can also be done scientifically.

To increase your chances of beating your opponent, you want to conserve your energy for the finish while at the same time wearing your opponent down. Then getting a dominant position on a tired opponent, multiplying the effects of the position, then submitting a tired, mentally defeated opponent. That is when jiu jitsu looks easy and magical.

80% chance of submission + 10 points + 100% of energy left to finish > 10% chance of submission + 3 points + 50% energy left to finish.

None of this is cannon and the numbers are based on experience and will vary from person to person but works as a good tool to visualize BJJ formula in your mind.

Nuff said. Now I must go eat!
About the Author:

Sam Y. is a Master Personal Trainer, Certified Nutritionist, Coach, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Enhancement Specialist, Yoga and Pilates instructor, and holds multiple certifications. He is also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. He is also the author of the popular fitness blog All Out Effort as well as the popular martial arts blog Inner BJJ. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook at his personal fitness page.

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