by Prof. Martin Guggi
When I got my first opportunity to teach at Prof. Renato´s school in California I of course tried to give my best. For me this was teaching as much details to every move I knew. One day Prof. Renato took me to the side and told me that I have to make a difference between teaching beginners and advanced students. I still remember his words: “You can teach the same technique to white belt and to a purple belt! The difference is how deep you go into the details explaining the same move!”
I still think it is not wrong to teach as much details as you know but I had to ask myself how many details can my students focus on? If you are a beginner you have to get the first three steps right. If you got them right and you know at least what you are doing and then it is time to give the students more details to make the move more precise.
Today when more advanced students or even black belts come together for training we still talk about certain details. Most of the time the moves or techniques we are talking about are well known – it does not happen very often that someone has a completely new move – most of the time we only talk about which experiences did we had working or using this technique. Trying to find out which concepts or principles are behind the move is the first step. Then we talk about different ways of grapping the sleeve or the arms or leg, different ways of weight distribution and other details.
To make it short on a higher level it comes down to the details. This means how much knowledge do I have about the move, the steps to get the setup, the control, the transitions, the timing and so on…
Concentration on the details makes the difference! You do not need to use all details to get the submission for example. But if you compare BJJ with climbing than you also do not need every step to get to the top. Sometimes you even can jump one step and still be successful. But more steps you use the more control you will have and the easier it is to finish. If you missed one step the move still could work but perhaps you need to settle the missing step with more speed, using of muscles or forcing the move more. Remember you should never use power to get to a submission. The only time to force is when you have the submission and you need to finish the guy!
A detail used at the right time can make such a difference. No weight training can bring you the same effect than even the smallest detail. Still some students always want to make a shortcut to fill the gap of the missing understanding of the technique with weight training. But how far can the weight training bring you? Can you stop an arm bar from being executed on you? Yes, of course you can stop someone from doing it but only for a short period of time. Because at the time you are in the fitness center he is practicing the move over and over again and soon there will be no way for you to escape, does not matter how strong you are, you are going to get submitted.
I remember one of my instructors told me a story about a guy getting asked how to defend the triangle. He was no black belt and at this time not a lot of people knew about BJJ and his answer was to build up the shoulder and trapezius muscles to stop someone to triangle you…. If strength would be a very important part of our game then probably strongman or bodybuilder would be the best in our Sport…..
“Technique conquers all!” and the details make the difference! Never forget it! Everything else like weight training is of course a plus. We do practice a physical sport and we need a certain time of training our body too to not get injured easily. For me drilling is part of my physical training as well. You can push yourself as hard as you want without any risk of injuries. If we want to improve in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu then we have to invest most of our time on training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and nothing else.