Rounding out your BJJ game

If you are a blue belt or higher you will most likely have developed a preferred sweep or sequence that works on 50% plus of opponents on a similar level to you.

This technique is likely part of your muscle memory and you are usually able to find the position even when under heavy pressure. Even when your opponent knows what you will do they still find it hard to shut down the technique.

If this is the case, congratulations, you are on your way to developing a strong game. However while it is important to continue to refine this technique, it is equally if not more important to avoid the trap of stagnation. Being very proficient at one particular technique can often be to the detriment of the rest of your game. Instead of developing more positions through sparring you can fall into the temptation of continuously using the same technique.

This is a common problem in BJJ especially among hobbyist grapplers. A well rounded game can be developed naturally over years but being conscious of your strengths and weaknesses can help you to speed up the process.

Even the top grapplers who appear to be one dimensional in their sequences tend to have well rounded games. If you watch videos of them training you will see them working other positions and techniques that they rarely experience during a competitive match.

Transition positions

For starters try and work on positions that complement your go to technique. For example if have a strong triangle, try to figure out how to develop an Omoplata attack that will give you more options when in closed guard. These transition positions are an excellent place to start when rounding out your game.

When rolling with training partners see if you can get the new position technique without reverting back to what you normally do. This is easier said than done. If you temporarily ban yourself from your favorite position or technique, you may find that opponents who you previously bet are now giving you a hard time. It is tempting to revert to your ‘A’ game but it is important to keep the discipline and try to work through the other technique that you want to improve.

It may take a couple of weeks or months but after a period of trying this out you will slowly notice that the new technique has become part of your game. You now have another weapon to complement your game and all it took was a little bit of discipline and hard work.

Don’t abandon the stuff that works

Rounding out your game does not mean abandoning your favorite technique. By all means continue to use and develop the position. There are most likely lots more for you to learn in relation to that position. Marcelo Garcia said it took him 5 years to perfect his North South choke! By having an awareness of your strength and setting aside time to work on other aspects of your game will ultimately help you to become a stronger grappler.