Have you ever heard your coach tell you that you need to be more aggressive and not understood, or they’ve indicated that you are being too aggressive?
Hopefully this article will help you if you are an athlete or a parent of an athlete determine what aggression is in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Aggression can be defined as a forceful and sometimes overly assertive pursuit of one's aims and interests. Aggressiveness in life is often applauded. However, there are many circumstances where it can be deemed as inappropriate at best and offensive at worst.
Aggressiveness, if not used strategically, can be a recipe for disaster. Few endeavours in life are successful without aggressiveness. The same is true for the mats. There is a right way to use aggressiveness and a wrong way.
There are several ways that aggression can be misused in Jiu Jitsu.
One misuse of aggression in Jiu Jitsu is with strength. While it is fine to use strength in Jiu Jitsu, in the training room, it should be used to compliment technique and not in place of technique. I would argue that one first needs to roll without strength before they add it to their game. We all want to show heart and fight hard. However, at times, especially for the novice, strength is substituted for technique in the training room and the result is not Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu uses technique as a force multiple for strength.
Another misuse of aggression is where an athlete is ‘playing’ in a manner that is really just bullying their teammates. This is evident when the athlete may have tapped to a teammate and as soon as they reset, attempts to impose their will through emotion. Or they lose a position and their temper, and make every effort to reverse the situation and make their teammate ‘pay’ for what had happened.
Rolling aggressively can only be done correctly with the strategic application of strength. If someone wants to win a fight based solely on strength, they are better off pursuing body building and not Jiu Jitsu. Strength is an important component of Jiu Jitsu, however in the training room it is best used as a force multiplier to proper technique.
Other situations people equate aggression to, can be as a flurry of action.
Consider for example, if I am in someone’s closed guard. I can flail around aggressively and accomplish a lot of movement. However, most likely, I will not pass the guard based on these actions.
Technique and strategy need to be implemented aggressively.
One should aggressively implement their strategy for each position. When I’m in a dominant position I want to force a mistake.
Knowing what the strength and weakness are in any position and aggressively looking to exploit the strength is a great example of aggression.
Even beyond having a positional strategy in place for every position, one could use the aggressive threat of submission to advance position and use the aggressive threat of the position to open up the submission. For example; being caught in half guard, setting up a cross collar choke for your opponent to feel threatened, and moving to mount.
So what are some other ways to implement aggression into your game?
First, you should aggressively get your repetitions when rolling. This is the best opportunity as you now have a live opponent in front of you. When you are attempting your chosen technique in training, tapping out to your teammates isn’t a bad thing, especially if you are attempting your chosen technique. This is where refinement will come in to play. You get to see first hand what adjustments need to be made and eventually you will be able to execute your technique with precision using aggression.
There are countless more examples of things that may stop our repetitions in the training room. However, unlike a competition or self-defence setting, tapping out does not matter when training. You should be attempting to get the repetitions in, first slowly, and when you have the movement correct implement more aggression to achieve the goal .
Another way to be aggressive is in setting goals.
Figuring out the skill to be learned, breaking it down to small pieces, practicing those pieces and then obtaining feedback. Goals are huge in Jiu Jitsu. It is extremely difficult to achieve anything of merit without having an idea ahead of time on what the goals should be.
Aggression has its place in this violent art.
Certainly, one can roll aggressively by using a flurry of movement and strength as a substitute of technique. However, that is an example of poor aggression in Jiu Jitsu. There are many positive examples of aggression in Jiu Jitsu. Aggressively implement your strategy for positions. Aggressively seek your repetitions. The value of a roll is not in how many times you tap a teammate, but the quality of practice achieved. Aggressively set goals and destroy them. We should not be passive in Jiu Jitsu. However, we should use our aggression strategically.
In summary, the best way to look at aggression in Jiu Jitsu is; being aggressive requires emotion, playing aggressively is aiming to apply your skill and technique.
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