One of my favorite BJJ players by far is Roy Dean. The reason for this is my admiration of his use of Jiu-Jitsu technique as opposed to his use of muscle. He’s also one of the few true Jiu-Jitsu intellectuals I know of.
In Jiu-Jitsu, there is an overwhelming temptation to use your muscular gift from god. After all, you’ve relied on it since the day you were born. It’s understandable and, at times, even necessary, but the fact of the matter it, it’s not Jiu-Jitsu.
My instructor, Jeff Giroux, really tries to hammer home that fact that Jiu-Jitsu is translated as the “gentle art” or the “gentle way.” Whichever you choose, the word “gentle” remains the root. After almost four years of practice, some of the moves I come up with still involve muscle. I need to be reminded that if I need all that muscle, I probably shouldn’t be in a Jiu-Jitsu studio.
Take a look at this video. It’s one of Roy Dean making his way through his promotion test by rolling with some of this students. Eventually, towards the end of the video, he rolls with his instructor, Roy Harris himself. Watch as each person rolls and watch their “lack” of use of muscle. Look at their technique and look at how effective it is. Watch their balance and position. This is the essence of Jiu-Jitsu and this is what we should all be striving for.
Roy Dean Academy BJJ: 2nd Degree Black Belt
We have a small problem at our school that I am trying to help out with. We have a muscle problem.
Back in the day, I fell victim to the use of muscle. After a roll one afternoon, a friend pulled me aside and told me that while I was effective on the mat, I wasn’t actually practicing Jiu-Jitsu. I wondered what he meant, but more importantly, I wondered why I should care. If I was effective on the mat, why not keep doing what I was doing? Well, as it turns out, when you muscle through sparring and rolling matches in Jiu-Jitsu, you eventually hit a wall.
Through the years, I’ve seen guys get discouraged about their training. I’ve explained to them how the learning curve works and how it explodes as a white belt, then mellows as a blue belt and then gradually climbs for the rest of their training. As I listened to their stories, I just chalked their situations up to the traditional learning curve.
As I continue my observation of a few select individuals, I am learning that their trouble may not lie in the normal path of Jiu-Jitsu, but may lie within themselves. Each person I watch uses a tremendous amount of muscle to get themselves through sticky situations. As the rest of us grow and learn, they feel as though they are getting worse and worse because they are relying on this as opposed to taking advantage of effective technique. Something needs to be done because their frustration is turning to discouragement. We can’t let this happen because we’ve got some great guys who truly love the art.
Now that I’ve reached the rank of purple belt, I will be engaging in more of a leadership role. I hope to help some fellow students with the finer points of their training and plan to use various drilling techniques that will assist in breaking them of their bad habits so they can flourish in their training as I think I have over the years.