Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Not Magic

Jiu-Jitsu’s not magic. I’ve been telling students this more often lately. Part of why’s because we’ve had a few new white belts join who are bigger than everyone.

It’s the most practical and effective martial art, but it won’t make you invincible. That should be obvious, but because it does make you powerful, it can make you overconfident and maybe even delusional.

Size and strength matter. On his Position Impossible podcast, Dave Camarillo remarked how a typical football player automatically has good self-defense. The football player has size, explosiveness, and mental toughness. All of that matters in a fight.

One thing I’ve heard a lot over the years is, “Don’t use strength.” That’s silly. It’s just another attribute, like speed or flexibility. We should focus on good technique because that makes us more efficient, but to say we shouldn’t use strength doesn’t make sense. They mean, “Don’t use too much strength.” But what does “too much” mean? When you see a flexible person doing jiu-jitsu, you don’t hear anyone telling him, “Don’t use flexibility.”

Also, I’ve noticed that you don’t hear strong people say any of that. It’s the smaller/weaker, possibly more technical, ones that worry about it. Maybe the problem is when rolling against a lower belt that’s bigger or stronger, you want your technique to make up for the strength disparity, but it doesn’t. So, you want them to not use their advantage so that your advantage in skill or knowledge can get you the “win.” Too bad.

This goes back to rolling with everyone. Test yourself. If your technique doesn’t prevail over someone bigger and stronger, good. Practice more. In the real world, size and strength matter.

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