Build a System First Then Find Your Own Game

System: An aggregate of offensive and defensive techniques from your hands to your feet and applying these techniques starting from a standing position to your first position on the ground.

When I was 12 years old I took guitar lessons. My teacher taught in a very ordered manner. He stressed that you must have discipline to learn the lessons of music theory first (Imagine that!). I just wanted to play like Eddie Van Halen. Show me how to play Eruption! I thought, if I can learn Eruption, I will be a good guitar player. My teacher would have none of that. He knew if he taught me this it would be meaningless and would just satisfy me in the moment.

He always drilled the “caged system” as he would call it, “See, you can play “A” major chord starting here, then here, and here; they are all “A” chords, but they have different shapes. You just need to know how to play the major chord then learn to find the same chord up and down the neck.” He would show me a few and then say, “You find the next one on your own, then find which one you like to play.” I thought many times, “I know my chords let’s move on!” I couldn’t understand or appreciate these lessons until I was older. I eventually realized that I was completely wrong and didn’t recognize the value of what he was trying to teach me by just showing me the depth in one single chord.

You all know what I am getting at here. Sometimes I feel guilty that I do not show the latest fancy techniques, but then I quickly remember why I don’t and what I believe in. I can tell when someone hasn’t developed a system or flow or when they are on their feet they do not know what to do. They get lost, play catch as catch can, or try moves that just don’t make sense. The problem is that too many students never have the patience to learn the system first, especially on their feet. They get to a certain level and then they start copying. How can you learn a system if you are always copying the best moves of the best players?

My job is to teach a system and build confidence in students so they have something to build on, both on their feet as well as on the ground. If you can be disciplined to build this system first, going out of the box and getting creative with your game is going to be so much more effective. Jiu-jitsu is constantly evolving and this is good, but that doesn’t mean you forget what is important.

When you have done this hard work, then it is time for you to find your own game!


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