Technique vs Strength

A friend in class asked me to touch on this subject so here it is. Technique vs Strength and when to use each.

Technique vs Strength – The Common Frustration

Here is the likely situation you are experiencing. You are new or relatively new to Jiu-Jitsu. It is unclear to you how to apply your strength. It feels like the harder you try the quicker you get your ass kicked. The higher belts seem to be three moves ahead of you. It is demoralizing. It is frustrating. In the heat of the moment using your strength seems like a logical option. Muscling up on your training partners is not the answer. The key is to build and refine your technique.

Time to Refine your Technique

In the white and blue belt levels, you need to hold back the strength based jiu-jitsu and focus in on technique. You need to establish an ‘A’ game, then a ‘B’ and eventually a ‘C’ game. All of these game plans need to be executable with little to no strength. You need to practice these lines of moves until you dream about them. When executed correctly these moves should not require much strength. It’s about the technique and timing. Nothing else.

The Problem with Strength

All too often with white belts, strength becomes a complete replacement for technique. This a very short sighted approach. We have a saying when winning with strength alone: ’You might win some matches, but you are not doing Jiu-Jitsu.’ If you are using strength as a tool for winning matches you will eventually find someone who is stronger. It’s just a matter of time. Lastly, applying strength without a defined sense of purpose is exhausting literally. It is far better to finish a match in 30 seconds with a great BJJ move rather than grinding through a six-minute match only to win by a single point.

Then Bring Back the Strength

After your Jiu-Jitsu foundation is built then you can apply strength again. The basic idea is that you have a limited amount of raw strength so using it in key moments is advised. If you have been to tournaments or watched professional Jiu-Jitsu online then you will take note of a certain pacing. The pacing of offensive moves is not 100% all the time. The pacing seems to be a slow, slow, fast pattern. Or better, conserve, conserve, explode! Use strength when applying an offensive move and you see a path to a tap. If you can finish the match then push hard all the way through. However, you might take a moment inside guard or from top mount if you are getting countered effectively and you need to reassess your offense.

Weaving Strength and Jiu-Jitsu Technique together

Strength has a place in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The key is to use strength in very intelligent and well placed moments. Strength can get you through tough moments but for that reason, it needs to be used sparingly. It can also be a huge crutch. Make certain that strength does not replace technique.