While 3-D Jiu-Jitsu is the overall theme of this book, the process of exploring positions 3-dimensionally is easier if you have a few other analytical tools that you can use to distil the why from the how. For high-level grapplers, these concepts will likely not be groundbreaking, but defining them has made it easier for me to learn and has helped my students learn as well. Most of these ideas are principles that you eventually understand intuitively but may lack the words to explain. Having that language, though, makes it easier to mentally dissect your jiu-jitsu and to explain your findings to others.
The rewind principle is the idea that the connections between techniques are not necessarily one-way. For some combinations of techniques, you can go from technique A to technique B, and from technique B to technique A. This is not a Nobel Prize winning idea, to be sure, but as you find yourself exploring new transitions or attacks, try rewinding your move. Can you reverse what you just did and go from your ending point back to your starting point? If you can, you just added a whole new threat your game without having to learn a new technique.
Grapple With Your Bones:
When I was a rock climbing with a friend—and I am still very bad at it—I asked him how he was able to climb for so long without getting tired. He answered, “Climb with your bones, not your muscles.” By creating structures on the wall, by pushing off with your legs rather than pulling with your arms, you can conserve energy and move efficiently. This was something that I had been doing in jiu-jitsu for years but was unable to describe. Now, this idea has me constantly looking for ways to create structures out of my bones to frame off space, to carry weight, and to increase efficiency. Again, this is not a concept I invented, but verbalizing it this way can make it easier to translate.
The Variance of Space:
Part of 3-D Jiu-Jitsu is the idea of expanding and contracting space. Often, you can do the same technique with a slight variation even though the spacing has changed. For example, we often learn a basic wrist-pin triangle from closed guard with our opponent postured, but you can do the same entry with your opponent low in your guard or with him standing over you. Your basic goal is the same, to pin his wrist so that you can climb up into a triangle, but the contraction or expansion of space can make the technique more difficult to do for different reasons. Often, it’s easiest to learn the technique in the middle ground, when there is enough space to execute the technique but not so much or so little that your technique is not overly taxed. Experimenting with using the same technique with different variations of space is another way to repurpose the same technique for multiple, seemingly different uses.
Move Yourself, Not Your Opponent:
Because an opponent could be larger, you can never count on being able to move your opponent until you have positioned yourself in a high-leverage situation. To get that point, it’s typically easier to move yourself into that position rather than attempting to force your opponent to go where you need him to go. More advanced students will already think this way, but teaching newer students this concept can help shift their thinking toward efficiency.
Don’t worry about memorizing these concepts. You’ll become more familiar with them as we examine individual techniques. What’s most important is to begin to establish a language for discussing jiu-jitsu concepts, which is important for your internal dialogue and for your dialogue with teammates as you learn and train.