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How to Catch Up When Your Opponent Gets Ahead

Jiu Jitsu is the art of controlling your opponent. To do this you must stay ahead of your opponent. Often, we confuse staying ahead with speed. Being ahead does not always signify going fast or faster than the other person. The end goal is not a matter of speed. Your aim is to secure and establish a dominant position. Many times, you will need speed to establish a dominant position. However, focusing solely on speed may not be your advantage to achieve a dominant position.

The fight for a position is not a marathon but rather several small sprints. During that transition moment from position A to position B, when we feel our opponent is getting ahead of us, the mistake many people make is to try to catch up using their speed to go faster than the other person. Trying to catch up in a short race where you are already behind is not the best strategy.

You may already be too behind in this race toward this specific position to gain an advantage. Under these circumstances, the solution is to use all your skills and ability to go after and lock your opponent in. Even if you are not particularly strong in that certain position, lock your opponent in so that you do not get into an even worse position. From there, after your opponent is locked in and you have slowed him down, adjust your grips, catch your breath, and begin to impose your game again. Start a new “race” for a better position.

It will take experience through training to build your discernment for when it is time to catch up to your opponent in speed or slow down your opponent. Jiu Jitsu is a beautiful balance between the pressure game and your ability to move at a high speed. One is not superior to the other. It is the combination and knowing which to emphasize at each moment that will help you in your game.

Understanding these concepts will allow you to analyze where you are in relation to your opponent and adjust your game accordingly. For example, if I am rolling with someone larger than myself, I will be the faster one and should leverage that advantage. If I am rolling with someone lighter, they will naturally be faster. So, I will keep my game tight and the pressure on. Knowing where your advantages are in relation to others will help you to develop your game and allow you to become more creative and adapt to all circumstances on the mat.

Do not confuse getting ahead of your opponent with meaning just using speed. Speed does not necessarily equate to competency. Team Passos’ structured curriculum is designed to enable our students to adapt and establish a stronger position where they can control their opponents. At our academy, we work with each student to help them analyze their giftings and challenges. We then tailor a game that will best suit them individually. If you have not had a chance to train with us, I invite you to come try class and take your game to the next level.

– Professor Tony Passos


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