Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Is Success Good?

If something works, we keep doing it. But maybe that’s not so good because it can lock us into a pattern.

I see it with some students, where they find one submission or sweep is working for them, and they never try anything else.

This kind of training actually works for some. I know a black belt whose game is basically unchanged since I first met him when he was a purple belt. I know his pattern, but he’s so good with it, he’s still successful with it, so one can argue there’s no reason to change. But most upper belts I’ve sparred with are well-rounded. They all have preferences, but they’re a threat from any position.

The problem is when the white belt finds early success and then refuses to experiment with other techniques. He gets used to winning (against other beginners, yay), and wants to maintain status.

The other issue is he may be mistaken on what is actually responsible for his success. He then focuses on the wrong thing, and later has to unlearn bad habits. An obvious example is the strong student who uses a lot of power to finish submissions or to escape bad positions.1 He believes that is the answer, then proceeds to focus on strength and ignores developing clean technique.

  1. Remember that this is only working against fellow whites and blues. The reason bad technique works is usually because the partners’ technique is even worse. ↩︎

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