Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training can be daunting at a glance, to say the least.  When you start training, you’re given a seemingly endless stream of techniques and positions that may seem like completely random pages of a very long novel- only the pages are out of order, and it’s supposed to be your job to put them in the proper order, somehow by chance, through the accumulation of miscellaneous pages over time.

Here are three ways to simplify your training in grappling at the beginning that can help you categorize the things you learn.

Jiu Jitsu is about controlling two things with relation to your opponent:  distance and angles
If you can control these two variables, you are in control of the fight.  To use a simple analogy most people can immediately understand, imagine being in a knife fight where you and your opponent are trying to stab and slice one another to death.  Pretty terrible scenario, no?  Now imagine a similar knife fight where your opponent is tied to a stake and you are not.  Given equal skills, wouldn’t you agree that you would have a significant tactical edge?   You could walk right behind your opponent, making good use of the angle of attack, and simply stab him to death.
The same applies to jiu jitsu.

There are three simple goals in BJJ that can help you control the fight:

  • Get on top (and stay on top)
  • Get your legs around your opponent
  • Always face your opponent

For more reading on this subject, read this quick article I wrote earlier in the year.  Remember that these rules are not hard and fast, and there are always exceptions to every rule, but this can help you when you’re truly first trying to figure out exactly what your objectives are.

There are five basic positions of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and there is arguably a hierarchy of positions.
This third concept is simply based on a combination of the above two concepts.  From each progressive position, you gain more control of the distance and angles, and (generally speaking) you work to get on top, get your legs around the person, and always face them.

As complicated as the fancy types of guards you read about may seem, they can all be classified as a type of guard.  From the top position, inside your opponent’s guard, you can pass the guard into side control.  Side control allows you to actually execute submissions and to be able to strike more effectively than inside your opponent’s guard.  From there, you can move on to knee on stomach position, from which you can strike even more effectively (and even get up and escape, if necessary).  Moving up the hierarchical ladder of positions, the mount allows you to rain down strikes and submit your opponent while controlling him in a dominant fashion.  Finally, if your opponent turns over, you have the back, from which you can not only strike effectively, but he can’t even see where your strikes are coming from.  Your submission opportunities from the mount are virtually 100% to 0%.

At its core, jiu jitsu is all about leverage.
This is said all the time, but what does this really mean?  Well, it means that you absolutely have to be able to relax in order to feel your opponent’s energy and “go with the flow” (when you are pushed, you either pull or get out of the way).  Redirecting force becomes a primary goal, not meeting force with force.  You can read a little more about how this principle can help you with real life in this article.