When you watch Youtube videos of complicated sport BJJ techniques, what you see is a terrific understanding of the advanced movements involved to execute the berimbolo, rolling calf slicer, or flying omoplata.  What you don’t see is the tens of thousands of hours of drilling the fundamentals of BJJ that each of these high level jiu jitsu practitioners has put in.

Ever roll and get frustrated trying a basic technique?  I’ve heard it before:  “Basics don’t work on [insert name here].”  I’ve said it hundreds of times before, and I’ll say it again now:  you need to drill the crap out of that move. You have to work on your basics and make that movement become second nature so that you execute the basic movement so well that you don’t even think about it. You’ll need to use the energy of thought on what happens next.

What’s going to happen next is going to be your partner knowing exactly what you’re trying to do to him or her, so you’re going to have to work on dealing with their counter or defense.  That’s where BJJ gets really interesting.  To get to that point, though, you have to have an excellent, tight understanding of the basic movement you’re trying to execute.

Not only will you set your partner up with a direct attack, but you will also find yourself in that position from a lot of unconventional methods as well, with different setups.  The armlock from the guard is just as good of an example as any.  Imagine going for that armlock 50 times on one side, and then on 50 times on the other side.  You drill until your thigh muscles are rubber, your abs are screaming at you, and your calf muscles are starting to cramp up.  You are starting to “know” the movement.

You find yourself on your opponent’s back when rolling, and he executes a sloppy escape, trying to shake you off.  Suddenly, you are on your back, clinging to his arm.  Your legs clamp together almost instinctually, your hips extend slightly, and your upper body latches on to your partner’s wrist.  How did this happen?  It was automatic.

It’s also important to remember that jiu jitsu works like boxing in at least one respect: you will need to use combinations in order to execute a movement.  You’ll use a lot of different techniques to set up that one armlock from the guard, but the basic movement of the armlock are the same whether you’re drilling from the closed guard in a static manner, or from a dynamic position where your partner is far too concerned with your other attack to notice the armlock you have set up.

Does an uppercut not work in boxing because if you go and try it in sparring, you get jabbed every time? Of course not. You have to use combinations or counters to set up a punch. The same is true for basic jiu jitsu techniques. It is still imperative that you drill this fundamental movement until you can do it in your sleep!