The Right Way(tm)

When we learn a new move in jiu-jitsu, we want to learn it correctly. We want to perform it the right way.

A move is a collection of concepts and tradeoffs. There is no right way to always perform a move in the general sense. The specific way to perform a move will depend on the environment it is performed in.

We’ll use the knee-slide pass as as example. The knee-slide (alternatively knee-slice, knee-cut or esgrima) pass is a way of passing the half guard. It is conceptually simple – start in half guard, pin your opponent’s upper body and then pull your leg free to end up in side control.

Below are multiple demonstrations of this pass. Note the way that different instructors emphasise different aspects of the pass. Some are so different that it is easy to consider them different passes.

Here is Saulo Ribeiro teaching the pass. Saulo emphasises heavy pressure and preventing your opponent from regaining the closed guard.

Now consider Rafael Mendes. He is much lighter than Saulo. It is easier to sweep a lighter opponent than a heavier one. Rafael emphasises keeping his weight off his opponent to avoid the sweep.

Steve Campbell takes a more conceptual approach. He notes that by twisting your opponent’s spine, it will be easier to extract your trapped leg. Steve’s gi focused approach twists the spine by pinning the hips first and turning the shoulders second.

Marcelo Garcia also shows the spine twisting approach to this pass. Marcelo pins the shoulders first and then turns the hips. This approach works both gi and no-gi while Steve’s hips-first approach favours the gi.

There is no right way to perform a move. If the move works, then you did it the right way. The environment dictates what is correct. You may trade pressure for mobilitity or vice-versa. Gi grips allow you to sacrifice positional stability for positional advancement. Consolidating your gi and no-gi game trades possibilities for reduced cognitive load.

Being good at jiu-jitsu means being able to make the correct tradoffs to be successful against your opponent.

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