Golf and BJJ

Originally uploaded by lauratitian

I don’t like golf. I’ll probably receive a large batch of irate emails because of saying this, but I don’t like playing golf, I don’t like watching golf, and I’m befuddled by its current popularity. I do think, however, that grapplers can learn at least one thing from golfers: intense analysis of basic posture and movement.

Unlike many other sports, golfers, even recreational golfers, spend a lot of time analyzing the most minute details of basic moves (i.e. their strokes). They worry about weight placement, body angles, finger placement, torso rotation, head position, stroke follow-though, etc. Perhaps it helps that success in golf is so easily quantifiable: if you normally drive the ball 250 yards, and changing your finger positions increases that to 270 yards, then you know that you are probably on the right track.

I think that many of the very best grapplers combine a high level of athleticism with an intensely analytical approach to performing their techniques. Ideally we would apply this in-depth scrutiny to every technique -submissions, sweeps, escapes, takedowns, guard passes, etc.) that we’ve ever been taught. In reality this is impractical. There are so many more techniques in BJJ than there are strokes in golf that to analyze every technique would several lifetimes.

We CAN apply this level of analysis to our favorite techniques though – the “go to” moves and techniques that form the core of your particular game. The exact list of core techniques will vary from grappler to grappler (and will change over time for a given grappler). Whatever your list, you should learn the biomechanics and principles, variations, setups, counters and recounters for each of your favorite techniques.

Some of the submissions in my game that have occupied a front and center position have included the rear naked choke, the omo plata, the kneebar (and see this article too) and the ankle lock. For each of these submissions I went through the process I described above.

In grappling an inch can make the difference between winning and losing. Moving your hand on your opponent’s lapel by one inch can make the difference between securing a choke and getting squashed yourself. How you wrap your toes around an opponent can make the difference between maintaining and losing a dominant position. Some of my most satisfying moments on the mat have come from finally realizing how a small adjustment can bring a formerly moribund technique to life.

Most ‘normal’ people (i.e. non-grapplers) would consider worrying about the details of lapel gripping and toe placement to be on the verge of obsessive-compulsive, but I have the feeling that golfers would understand.

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