“I hesitate. I feel paralyzed out there. I can’t seem to pull the trigger.”

These are some of the most common problems that I hear from readers like yourself. Here’s some science-backed advice on how to fix them:

If you want to speed up your reaction time, reduce the number of decisions available.

This concept - that more available options means slower reaction time - is known as Hick’s Law. It’s attributed to William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman, who began researching the theory in 1951.

Ever turned on Netflix and felt paralyzed because you couldn’t decide which of the thousands of shows to watch? Ever struggled to decide what to eat at a restaurant because there were so many options to choose from? That’s Hick’s Law in action.

On the flip side, Hick’s Law is part of the reason why many premiere restaurants keep their menu small. It’s also part of the reason why Apple often deliberately avoids overwhelming their customers with lots of options. The fewer alternatives available, the less your brain has to work.

But you’re here to learn about Jiu-Jitsu, so let’s talk about how Hick’s Law applies to the gentle art.

All too often, people try to learn Jiu-Jitsu by filling their head with as many techniques and details as possible. This desire to memorize everything about Jiu-Jitsu is a false belief that “more means better.” Many grapplers feel that if only they knew more techniques, they’d have more options and be more effective.

But more doesn’t mean better. Better means better.

That’s why I prefer to think of Jiu-Jitsu in terms of mental models. It’s a lot easier to keep a few simple concepts in your head than it is to memorize and execute every single possible technique.

As Hick’s Law teaches us: the more options available, the slower your reaction time. And if your reaction time is slow, you’ll always be on the defensive and you’re far less likely to win.

If you reorganize your understanding of Jiu-Jitsu into systems and mental models, you’re greatly reducing your own cognitive load. This lets you make decisions faster and with more confidence. And of course, if you need some examples of which mental models to study, we’ve got a whole database of them on our website.


Further study: