Techniques shouldn't have a single point of failure.

I really, really don't like “all-or-nothing” techniques.

You know what I mean by that, right? I'm talking about techniques that either:

a) succeed and yield big results, or
b) fail and lead to disaster.

I'm sure you've already been there at some point. You know that amazing feeling of, “hey, I've almost got this submission!”...

...followed five seconds later by, “oops, guess I didn't, now I'm stuck in bottom side control. Guess it's time to notify the post office of a change in address because I think I'm gonna be here for a while.”

That's what happens when you attempt an “all-or-nothing” technique, where you're betting it all on the result you want and don't have a “plan B” in case things fail.

So what to do? The answer is easy:

Always ensure your techniques have “redundancies,” or backup plans, in case your initial goal fails.

Redundancies can take a few forms:

  1. a way to replace key mechanics if they fail
    (for example, having two grips in case your opponent strips one)

  2. a follow-up technique you can easily transition into.
    (for example, transitioning to north-south if you're losing side control)

Redundancies are the reason why most techniques have multiple control points. If you've only got one point of control and it fails, you've lost the entire position. Redundancies are what allow you to recover and maintain that position.

Redundancies are also what we mean when we talk about technique chaining. When you anticipate your opponent's response and transition directly into a follow-up attack, that's a redundancy.

Some moves have built-in redundancies, which is normally what we mean when we talk about techniques that chain together well. But some techniques don't have obvious redundancies, and that's where strategic thinking comes into play. You need to always be asking yourself what you'll do when your initial plan fails.

If you want to hear more about redundancies, sign up for BJJ Mental Models Premium and check out our “Submission as Position” audio course featuring Rob Biernacki.


On the podcast:

  • Submission as Position, feat. Rob Bernacki (Premium series)


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