The elusive BJJ basics

Aoki vs Cavalcante - Dream 2

Omoplata – basic or not?

“I need to work on my basics”. “Basics win matches”. “BJJ is all about the basics”.

It’s common to hear statements like these when discussing BJJ. So what are the basics? It’s a simple enough question but it’s hard to get a precise answer to it.

You’ll get different answers depending on whom you ask. A common response will be an arbitrary list of techniques; armbar from guard, collar choke, scissor sweep etc. A more thoughtful response will include escapes from bad positions. An even more thoughtful response (but unhelpful to the beginner) will be along the lines of posture, balance and timing. There is no consistent answer.

There is no consistent answer because it is not a good question. The “Basics” mean different things to different people. To some, basics are the first things they themselves learnt when they began training. To others, basics could be the traditional “old style” techniques of BJJ or they might be the skill set that a white belt needs before being promoted to blue. It is an undefined term that is unhelpful to use when discussing BJJ.

It is much more useful to be specific when discussing BJJ. Instead of “I need to work on my basics”, a better question is to ask “How can I escape the mount position?”. With some reflection this may change into “I keep finding myself under the mount position. Why is this happening?” When the right question is being asked, you have the potential to find an answer for it.

If you find yourself using the term “basics”, it is most likely an indicator of uncertainty in your thoughts. Use this as an opportunity to clarify what you are talking about and be specific.

1 reply
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