Lets talk about basics.

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by TrumpetDan, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. TrumpetDan Green Belt

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    Topic stolen from Atama because its a good topic and F12 is cooler...


    "I was just on that Roger Gracie cross choke thread and posted about how what he was doing was not basic at all because although the cross choke and mount are basic techniques Roger employs subtle variations and has an advanced understanding of the techniques. But it just made me realize I had fallen into one of the greatest traps of the internet: arguing semantics.

    The concept of "Basics" is something that is thrown around a lot in BJJ. But what the hell does it mean? Are we referring to a group of techniques that form the foundation of BJJ? Does it describe a way of doing things, a "how" rather than a "what", which can be applied universally to all techniques?

    For instance, if we were studying an academic pursuit, say economics or some such thing. The basics would refer to the things a first year student would have a good grasp of (wouldn't it?). It would consist of the core principles that make an economy work. However, the algorithmic* nature of BJJ means that beginning students don't even have a decent grasp of the "basic techniques", in fact, even advanced students still have much understanding to gain (i.e. Roger Gracie Christ of cross choke, Mohammad of mount)... or something.

    What say you Atama BJJ?

    *Algorithmic referring to how we can increase our skill, but our skill will never reach the limit of perfection. "
     
  2. TrumpetDan Green Belt

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    In my opinion basics should associated with a specific move. I think you would be missing the big picture. For example, I don't think you should say "Steve pulls off cross chokes and scissor sweeps so he has sweet basics!"

    Some moves are chosen to teach beginners because they are moves that are simple and exemplify the philosophies of jiu-jitsu. When you hear people say that "Roger just uses basics" it’s not necessarily just because they use certain moves. While it is a component of it, I think it goes beyond that. Here is my opinion on the subject. Please remember, this is only my opinion.

    1. Jiu-Jitsu Philosophy. Your philosophy has the largest impact on if people will view you as having good basics. There are such a wide variety of philosophies on Jiu-Jitsu. Might I suggest that a philosophy of jiu jitsu that might be rooted in good fundamentals is one that is centered on conservation of energy and strength. Minimum effort, maximum efficiency. This is the lens which all other things below are filtered through.

    2. Strategy. Strategy and philosophy are so aligned that I almost made them one category but it defiantly deserves to be treated separately. I would suggest that a strategy that might be considered basic is achieving the top position followed by achieving a superior position, maintaining that position, and achieving the submission. It is also important to note that the details of your strategy might be thought of as basic if the specific positions and techniques would work well to defend yourself well in a fight as well as in the sport.

    The below attributes are what allow you to realize your strategy and philosophy.

    3. Base. Ever wonder why jiu jitsu logos have a triangle? It has to do with base and it is key to understanding jiu jitsu. Having good base allows you to realize your strategy of positional control and supports any specific technique you may choose to try. You can know the movements of a specific technique, but solid base is what allows you to realize it at a high level. Positional control is a subcategory of base. A subcategory of positional control is pressure.

    4. Timing. When there is a mistake in your opponent’s base, weight distribution or momentum you must learn to recognize this mistake and take advantage of it at the proper time. Patience is by extension a subcategory of timing.

    5. Leverage. Understanding how(and when) to use leverage to take advantage of a timing, distance or base mistake. The understanding of leverage compliments your philosophy of minimum input and max output. If the leverage is not efficient, it can undermine your philosophy.

    6. Distance. Understanding distance in all positions is critical. It dictates many things. There are times to be very close with lots of pressure. There are times to be far away. A subcategory of distance includes posture. Mastery of distance...when you want it...when you don’t...and when you’re in a danger zone is key to every position in jiu jitsu.

    7. Specific techniques - To enable your philosophy, strategy and all the other things above you need to ultimately apply a technique. Most important to being a good basics jiu jitsu practitioner is to make sure the specific techniques incorporated into your game align with your jiu jitsu philosophy. The less complex the movement of the specific technique, the more it centers around the conservation of energy philosophy. Minimum effort, maximum efficiency. The specific technique should also have maximum reward with the least amount of risk with emphasis on the least amount of risk.

    Once you have a good concept of these things I think it is safe to say that you have strong basics. Anybody can do a move traditionally viewed as fundamental with bad fundamentals.
     
  3. Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    I think you're overcomplicating it. Most of what you describe, #3-7, are attributes gained through practice not tied to any specific moves. Grappling intuition can neither be described as basic or advanced, as it's a continually developing talent that exists along a continuum.

    I would describe a move as basic if it meets a few criteria:

    1. It comes up a lot, from several (or a few very common) positions. Armbar is basic because you can throw it from guard, side control, mount, back mount, etc.

    2. It is high percentage, in terms of achievability and effectiveness. Knee slide guard passing can be attempted from almost any guard position (other than butterfly), and does not rely on superior strength, speed, or trickiness (i.e. your opponent not knowing what is coming).

    An example of a position that would not be basic is Inverted Guard. You can't get there from anywhere, it doesn't normally arise in rolling unless the guard player is aiming for that position, it relies on flexibility and athleticism, and is most effective when your opponent doesn't know how to handle it.

    That is why Roger's style is described as basic. He does moves that are taught to everyone within 3 months of starting BJJ, but his attributes are at such a high level that he can perform these moves on anyone. The moves are basic, the skill with which they are applied is anything but.
     
  4. Sherdog_Mutt Purple Belt

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    Saw the original thread on the UG. In essence, it looks like a debate of semantics. The problem with having a good discourse regarding this subject is that everyone's defining it differently: attributes, certain fundamental techniques, certain "basic" movements, etc...
     
  5. MUFC Brown Belt

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    You can get to inverted guard from most guard positions.

    You can get to x guard from most position,s it is high percentage, does not require inordinate strength or flexibility. Is xguard a basic technique?

    I think of fundamentals as concepts that can be applied to all grappling. I think of basics as being the specific ways of applying those fundamentals to a given grappling art. I don't mean the techniques, but the body movements (shrimping, cross face, closing elbows, creating angles, killing hips, staying heavy etc).
     
  6. DevinTheDewd Orange Belt

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    Everyone mentions Roger Gracie and basics... and honestly he seems like an exception. Do you see anyone middle weight and under winning by utilizing the same "basics" as roger? Not really. From what i've seen, the smaller guys tend to be much more technical than the big guys.

    I think this is true for a couple reasons.
    1. Big guys can get away with imposing basic moves on people with their additional strength/weight
    2. When big guys get away with using those moves and are successful there is no need to develop the crazier inverted/50 50/ sweep style games.

    Basics are good but there needs to be an understanding of many different moves when you're a smaller guy and that's what your opponents are throwing at you.
     
  7. TrumpetDan Green Belt

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    I think it might be interesting if everybody puts their concept of what basics are and then we evaluate the positions with techniques typically thought of as basic. I propose that the theory be tested 2 ways. Using a few techniques typically thought of as basic and seeing if they hold up and seeing if the theory could equally be applied to moves not thought of as basic to disprove the theory.

    To prove a theory:
    A submission: Cross Choke from mount
    A positional concept: Side Control To Mount transition
    A reversal or sweep: Taking the back from guard

    disprove a theory:
    A positional concept: Inverted Guard
    a reversal or sweep: Lapelaplata
     
  8. Cash Bill 52 Brown Belt

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    I think of basics as fundamental concepts.

    Space / No space
    Posture
    pressure
    base
    breathing
    movement
    grips


    I like this idea, but I don't have time to give a more detailed response.
     
  9. AKwrestler49** Yellow Belt

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    base
    being "comfortable" (not feeling awkward in some spots, i.e. not being nervous about being submitted in someones guard)
    posture
    control
    smooth transitions
     
  10. ShanghaiBJJ Brown Belt

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    I see it much more simply:

    Basics are the techniques that get the specific task in a specific position done most directly.

    I wanna choke a guy from my closed guard --> cross choke

    I wanna sweep him from my closed guard --> hip bump, scissor, pendelum sweep

    .....

    These to me are the basics.

    Advanced positions usually require a more intricate set up.

    Example:
    I wanna sweep from an open guard position.
    Basic: Tripod sweep
    Advanced: Push his nee to make space, put both x guard hooks in push more, do a technical stand up change the grip on the leg and do a takedown.

    Same result, two VALID ways to get there, one basic, one advanced.

    ----
    Jiu Jitsu really is a game of Q&A.
    The difference in terms of game to me is that relying on advanced moves, sometimes you want to pose a question that he doesn't know the answer to.

    When Roger executes his basics, everyone knows the question that is coming. But he doesn't let you answer.
     
  11. redaxe Silver Belt

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    To avoid the semantic debate and ambiguity a lot of BJJ schools actually tell you what specific techniques are The Basics.

    Gracie Barra recently started doing a fundamentals curriculum that includes a long list of basic techniques in a 16-week rotation.

    So as a student, you don't really have to think about which techniques are "basics." They tell you which ones are.

    A lot of instructors do similar things, some require you to demonstrate a list of basic techniques to test for your blue belt, etc.
     
  12. Cash Bill 52 Brown Belt

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    Basics = You know it when you see it....

    My white belt friend says he can never hit an armbar on anyone. When he shows me his armbar from mount, he gives me way too much space when his leg comes over my head. I show him my slow methodical armbar. Every movement from my toes to my fingers closes the space tighter and tighter.

    In my mind I think he does not grasp the fundamental concept of space / no space.

    So I show him my arm bar from guard, knee on belly, opposite arm, side control arm bar, etc... it's all the same principle (basic).
     
  13. Cash Bill 52 Brown Belt

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    I have talked to people that believe certain techniques are basics. However, some people cannot execute the technique because of a flaw in an underlying fundamental concept.

    That's why I think fundamental concepts are more important than "basics".

    Caio Terra says, "The most important thing in jiu jitsu is base."

    Base = basic

    It's not easy to teach, however.:(
     
  14. Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    You're missing my point. You CAN get to x-guard or inverted guard from many positions, but they don't arise naturally very often in the course of rolling, especially if you aren't familiar with the position. Even people with little or no experience end up in closed guard, side control, mount, etc.

    X-guard and inverted guard are not basic because they require very specialized knowledge and technique to achieve, and frankly people have gotten pretty good at BJJ without knowing anything about them. Not saying they don't work (X-guard is by far my favorite guard to play, and I've had a lot of success with it), just saying that you can be a good grappler without understanding them and they don't arise naturally in the course of a match unless a player is aiming for them.
     
  15. Jim J Purple Belt

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    Basics are techniques that have lasted the test of time AND are taught at an early stage at pretty much every bjj school. Inverted guard and x-guard are not basic techniques because they don't fit this criteria. They may very well be good techniques though.

    It is kind of like defining a classic novel. "To Kill a Mockingbird" has been read by every public school student in the US for several decades. It doesn't mean that it is a better book that some recent best seller. It may or may not be. Only time will tell.
     
  16. Auspex Brown Belt

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    I'm with Cashbill on this one.

    For example, with Judo, I view the basics as:

    Understanding what makes a hip throw a hip throw, a foot throw a foot throw. etc.

    Understanding the different types of grips (and how they differ)

    Understanding the principles of kuzushi (breaking balance), movement, and timing.

    Understanding fluidity...

    Once you grasp these fundamentals (im sure i missed one or two) learning throws is almost a walk in the park.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  17. Stacked Yellow Belt

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    This is a great discussion. I prefer the term fundamentals to basics. The moves typically associated as being basics in my opinion tend to be my highest percentage moves in certain scenarios and positions. As my mat time increases I seem to be learning more about the intricacies in applying them, and the underlying principles associated. Over time they illustrate concepts that are more universally applicable.
     
  18. Auspex Brown Belt

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    I don't look at any particular technique as basic. What makes any armbar more basic than the other?

    What I look at is, "what are the fundamentals to make an armbar successful?" This will require you to gain knowledge of utliziing fulcrums, simple anatomy, etc. For chokes this would be discussing how blood chokes work, how trachea chokes work, where you want pressure, etc.

    Once you learn these basics/fundamentals someone can tell you about a choke, and using that knowledge you can essentially figure out the choke without much other detail. And notice I didn't say NO other detail, but minimal.
     
  19. redaxe Silver Belt

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    Yeah, I agree, you need to have fundamentals down before you can even execute basic techniques properly. Things like base, balance, posture, hip movement (bridging, shrimping, etc), protecting your limbs and neck by keeping them close, etc. all should come before "armbar from guard" or "cross choke from mount." But they usually don't.
     
  20. Auspex Brown Belt

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    I think this, combined with what I said is huge.

    Just because it's the basics, doesn't mean it's easy and can be perfected in a day, week, or year.

    These are pieces that you study and drill for the life regardless of the techniques are in fashion
     

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