Friday, February 17, 2012

Types of BJJ Players

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.
20 December 2008 @ 06:25 pm

I have been thinking about this for quite some time. That there are only so many types of jiu jitsu players and grapplers and once you recognize them, dissecting their style and beating them becomes that much easier. This is still basic and will change over time and I may be overlooking some things. Here is my list and these are the names I came up with to best describe them.

The Wrestler - They do not have to necessarily have been a wrestler prior to jiu jitsu. It's something they can develop after jiu jitsu as well. Maybe you are a wrestler even though you suck at it. Who knows. It's the guy who doesn't like to play off his back, is hell on top, always squeezing, driving forward, standing up, trying to take you down, reverse instead of sweep, bridge, etc. When they are on the bottom immediately try to get back up, or grab a single leg. A lot of head and neck control, explosions, sometimes spazzy on their escapes. Points over finishes. Tough tough tough for anyone to beat. Weaknesses? Triangles, rear chokes, leg locks. A lot of times progress fast up to purple and after that slow down in their progression. Guillotines are hard cuz they are so used to that attack now.

The Guard Player - The person who loves to play from the bottom. Squirmy, moves their feet like arms. Good sweeps, good finisher. Great at grips. But because they are so comfortable on their backs, its easy to sweep them back because being on their back is natural. Don't have to worry about being taken down. Usually physically weaker people take naturally to playing off their backs. Usually weak once you pass and a lot of times passing = their will breaking. They look easiest to leg lock but because they are so used to it, it becomes very hard. Watch out for sweeps, triangles, armbars. They are used to resting so their cardio becomes questionable. Must smash, smear, and always pressure these players.

The Dynamic Player - The guy who tries to play it all. Who is always moving, jumping around, taking your back, passing your guard, etc. Does not rely on any one position though may have a few favorite submission chains. They are always moving so you got to stick to them, pace yourself, and ground them and slow them down. Their favorite technique is taking the back from anywhere and at all times. Look out for arm drags, sporty and flashy moves, bendy moves, agile moves, unpredictable. Usually they beat you fast but don't grind you out and get that "no time limit" kind of tap. They usually do best against everyone but can get tapped very fast as well because constant movement leads to more openings for mistakes. Short movements and making no mistakes is key. If you can outplay them in their game, or out scramble them, then the tap in inevitable. They are hard to hold down.

The Basics Player - The guy who has that bread and butter game. Usually up until blue belt they are easy to beat. Purple and beyond they become a beast! They play closed guard. On top they don't get fancy. Pass and eventually mount. Don't move a lot, hard to submit though you can beat them on points. Time isn't a concern as much as is being conservative and not expose yourself. You know what they are going to do, so at first it is easy to stop until they get so good at it even though you know its coming you can't stop them. Look out for cross collar chokes, good posture, breaking posture. A lot of times if you play a fast quick game on them or leg lock them, it comes on too fast for them to deal with. If you don't tap them right away, may become a long roll. Will try to grind you out and tap you when you are dead tired. That's when the closed guard feels like a vice and they weigh a ton when they mount you. Hard to submit from top. Darce, unpredictable moves, leg locks, x-guard and half guard can be their weakness.

The Leg Locker/Neck Cranker - The guy who loves to drop down for your legs at all times. Or grab your head and tear it off. They aren't good at the long game, grinding you out. Normally if they don't finish you right away, they will never finish you. Will lose position in their attempt to finish you. So they are always gambling. Because when they try to leg lock they leave so much of you uncontrolled and legs are also the biggest muscles so they must commit their whole bodies, which means if it doesn't happen right away, they can't control you for long. Same with the neck, they commit to your neck and don't control your hips or the rest of your body. In MMA these finishes happen the least because when money is on the line, people don't tap to leg locks or neck cranks cuz their is always squirming room. But we all know a good submission shouldn't have any squirming room. Protect your feet, protect your neck, wear them down, get your positions, and you should be alright. Watch out in transitions and scrambles and when you are standing in their guard.

The Sprinter - This is a hard one for me to define. A lot of players can seem like a sprinter at times, exploding or stalling. But I think its a psychological thing more than a style. But this mindset is so strong it will derail any other style they may have. If you constantly stick to them and move in on them they usually end up looking more like stallers and spazzers. If you wait for them, they will explode all over you. They stay far then zoom in close. They try to run around you and take your back instead of using a traditional transition move. Hard to control and keep on the ground. Always backing out unless they think they can land in a great position or sub. Like a sprinter, from here to finish line. Tries to break contact, and will only create contact when they see something. You see this a lot in no gi. Cartwheels, jumping passes, stall from guard to armbar with the swinging hips. Instant subs, instant passes, instant reversals or nothing at all. Can be real annoying. Keep a steady pace, move in on them, always keep a point of contact and get ready for them to try to jump over, under, or through you. Or them running away.

I am still pondering and figuring out how best to beat each of these players. I hope I do not fall into any of these categories and have my own category, the scientist or professor or something but I probably do fall into one of these categories, probably the guard player. But but but! That's okay. In the early stages I believe it is very important to master the guard before anything else. Wasn't that the innovation of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as opposed to any other jiu jitsu, the guard? Once you are comfortable fighting off your back, you will be comfortable anywhere. All a mount is, is a guard from the top.

I may not have it all figured out but give me enough time.
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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