Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Five Rules for Jiu-Jitsu Fighters in Mixed Martial Arts

A thread over at MMAFighting purports to provide commentary on Royce Gracie's take on the poor performance of his younger relatives in recent MMA contests.

I say "purports" because the comments seem to suggest that few of those opining have actually read the article.

Again, Royce's argument is an old one, one made by Rickson Gracie almost 10 years ago, and also amplified, in a way, by the man who is the best representative of BJJ-in-MMA done right, Demian Maia who said that his self-defense training was actually very applicable to his mixed martial arts training.

In any event, here are a few ways that jiu-jitsu fighters can improve their odds in the cage - using jiu-jitsu!

1. Train conditioning like a professional athlete
Top level competitive black belt matches in the IBJJF last for 10 minutes, plus overtimes. The minimum time for an MMA fight is 15 minutes, divided into three, five-minute rounds. Train accordingly

2. Stop striking
Rickson Gracie put it plainly almost ten years ago, and it is true today. If your edge lies in taking the fight to the ground, then your job is to take the fight to the ground. Everything that doesn't contribute to this ability is a distraction.  Fighting isn't a lifestyle. It's a game. And the best way to win the game is to have the greatest possible edge in one aspect of the game, and then force your opponents to compete with you there.

3. Takedowns Matter
I don't care if it's a judo throw, a Greco toss, or a folkstyle power double leg. Again, if your edge lies in taking the fight to the ground, then your job is to take the fight to the ground. Pick a takedown, a counter to the most common defense to that takedown, and don't stop until the round ends or the fight does.

4. "Nao Para!"
One of the things BJJ fighters can bring from the tournament mat to the cage is one of the most overheard commands from the sidelines: Don't Stop.

Strikers are told to move their heads and keep pumping the jab. Grapplers need to continue fighting for their grips and positions as priority one at all times. A jab won't end a fight, but some of the best knockouts lie right behind a well-placed fist in the face. The same can be said for grapplers when it comes to getting their best grips and most decisive positions.

5. The Patton Rule
Famous American general, George Patton, allegedly said, "Your job is not to die for your country. Your job is to make that other poor son of a bitch die for his country." I feel the same way about playing guard and fighting from your back in MMA.

In other words, your job as a jiu-jitsu fighter in MMA is not to show the world how great your guard is. It is to find out how good that other "poor son of a bitch" is off his (or her) back.  I don't have to run through the number of quality jiu-jitsu fighters who lost rounds in an MMA match because the judges preferred the top fighter's lay 'n' pray one-inch hammer fists to the bottom fighter's failed triangle, armbar and OMGaplata attacks from below.

I'm sure there are more. But these five would be a great place to start for most jiu-jitsu fighters - from Roger to Rolles - looking both to earn a winning record and showcase "the gentle art" at the same time.