Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Art Of Baiting For BJJ

The Great Ones Bait To Create Reactions

At the school I attend, I train under Rubens Charles "Cobrinha" Maciel. With guys like him, Andre Galvao, Mendes brothers, Roger Gracie, Marcelo Garcia, and all the other elite level black belts, in some ways, they are blind to why they are so good. They live with it daily so it's hard to pin point what makes their game better than everyone else's. Obvious answers are mat time, amount of drilling, killer instinct, athleticism, and an great ability to learn.

A motto Cobrinha often talks about is action/reaction. That BJJ is a game of actions and reactions. That's an obvious idea, every game is based on action and reaction.

None of that hit home for me personally until he said something casually. And maybe to him it was just an obvious thought, but to me it put it all together.

We were working a move, to take the back. I've seen this move taught by Cobrinha before, and his system of BJJ has a lot of set patterns and key positions and transitions. So I got used to it and noticed all the little details and tried to master all the details and getting completely confused. But while I was looking at all the little things, I was missing the big picture.

A visitor asked why he baits before he commits to the move. In this case why he baits the sidemount before he takes the back. His answer was, unless you are really really really really good, you almost always need to bait.

Without baiting, your timing has to be perfect, your technique perfect, perfectly accurate in placement of grips and other limbs, strong, fast, tight, and basically there can be no room for error. Infallible. But when you bait a move, your opponent's reactions will be a little bit more exaggerated, bigger, which gives you a slightly longer window, a slightly bigger hole.

In this particular move, you pass and try to control position, your opponent tries to give up his back to escape and recover guard before you establish the pass, instead of taking his back, you bait him by trying to pull him into sidemount. He pulls away even more aggressively, and then you take the back. He creates bigger holes for the hooks, it buys you a little time, you can use his momentum against him. The bait is committing to sidemount, then you commit to the back. Instead of also what some people might do, pretend to sidemount when you really want the back, people can tell when you are pretending.

Then I realized, almost every move he shows begins with baiting. That's the action reaction he is talking about. Yes its your opponent doing something and you reacting, or you doing something and your opponent reacting, but it's also you baiting, and using that to set up your ultimate move. In the transition there's more baits and more moves.

Now am I giving away Cobrinha's secret game? No. Every high level competitor does it, it's their preferences in baits that sets them apart. Roger baits you to defend armbar and cross collar chokes. Mendes baits sweeps to get triangles.

People often talk about how you know what they are going to do, and you can't stop it. They are just so tight with it. But often times you overall know what they are going for but in between that infamous move is a lot of smaller less infamous moves, which is basically all the jiu jitsu before their signature finish. It's in one of those moves unrelated to their famous move which they bait you to defend, which ultimately gets their infamous move. So no, you didn't know what they were going to do.

Remember when Ryan Hall was triangling everyone? People knew it was coming, they just didn't know how it was going to come.

It's like breaking a leg, there's many things that leads to a broken leg. There is not one single path. In that way, you know the end result, but you have no idea which baits or which road they will take you to the finish. That is the key to why their move is unstoppable. You know their finish but not the bait.

During a certain era, Marcelo Garcia was finishing everyone with the rear naked. Everyone knew it but couldn't stop it.

In this match he is facing Alexandre "Xande" Ribeiro. Xande is well aware of Marcelo's preference for the back and the choke.

3:14 Marcelo passes.

3:15 Xande tries to stop Marcelo from establishing sidemount by giving up his back and rolling away. But unlike what most people would do, Marcelo doesn't commit to the back. He has a tight bear hug around Xande's waist and hips, trying to clamp him down. Xande tries to sit up and clear his hands to the other side to complete his roll. But Marcelo puts his head in the way.

3:17 Xande pushes Marcelo's head out of the way to clear his hands to the other side to escape sidemount, all the while Marcelo has him around the waist, trying to pull him down to sidemount.

3:19 You look at Marcelo's head position and it is not someone who wants to take the back, his head is in a position to try to push his opponents shoulders flat down. To take the back his head should be right next to his opponents head.

3:40 Xande rolls to his knees. Marcelo spins with him and THIS time he commits. The bait is over the trap has sprung.

3:48 Marcelo repositions, gets his hook and grips for the choke.

5:09 Marcelo finishes.

Marcelo passes at 3:14 and could have went straight for the back but he didn't. Actually he never initiated the back take, it was only when Xande fully committed to the roll and rolled to his knees at 3:40 did Marcelo do his signature spin to the back. What was Marcelo doing all this time?

In a BJJ match this is a long duration and I'm sure for Xande it felt like it as well. He was baiting Xande to defend the sidemount. Xande tried to give up the back twice. First at 3:15 and the second time at 3:40. The second time much more pronounced, much bigger holes for the hooks to go in. Even a lower rank would have been able to take the back with those big opportunities.

But only someone at Marcelo's level could bait reactions like that whereas the rest of us try to insist, force, or just fake you out to try to get a move to work.

This act of baiting before the finish of the move is an art in itself, it's something all the high level guys have seemed to have mastered. All your reactions are WRONG.

But that's jiu jitsu, making you pay for your natural reactions. Someone armbars you, your reaction is to stand up, they armbar. They take you down, you try to get up, they take your back. All of the principles of the art were created in a reaction to people's natural instincts. In a real fight, all your natural reactions are wrong. Reaching for punches, trying to swat punches away, trying to get up on hands and knees, lifting your chin.

High level guys just make even trained people's reactions wrong. Action/reaction. It makes perfect sense now!

Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletter. You can also connect to Inner BJJ on Facebook and Twitter.

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