Action vs. Reaction in Grappling (or why Yogi Berra was right)


An article by Jeff ‘Wombat’ Meszaros

When Yogi Berra said, “half of this game is ninety percent mental”, he was talking about hitting a ball with a stick and running around an empty field. He wasn’t talking about rolling around with some sweaty dude who’s trying to tear your arms off. Still, Yogi’s mathematically flawed wisdom is just as applicable to jiu-jitsu, submission grappling and mixed martial arts as it is to baseball. My training buddy Joe Doerksen is a perfect example. Once, he and I were discussing what we think about while fighting.

NHB fighter Joe Doerkson and Jeff Meszaros

Jeff (left) and Joe (right) Jeff ‘Wombat’ Meszaros is famous for claiming to be injured, waiting for his training partners to get tired, and then sneak-attacking them. He trains in Winnipeg with Joe Doerksen, who will be fighting in UFC 49. Contact Jeff at

I told him that I think about

  1.  What position I am in?
  2.  What I can do from there
  3.  What my opponent can do from there
  4.  What I can do to counter what he can do
  5.  What he can do to counter what I can do
  6.  What I can do to counter his counter
  7.  Etc.

Then he told me what he thinks about, which is

  1. Kickin’ ass.

In other words, instead of worrying about what his opponent might do, Joe makes his opponent worry about what he is doing. It’s like a twisted Bobby McFerrin song … “Don’t worry. Be angry”.

While this might seem contrary to the jiu-jitsu philosophy of “flow with the go”, there’s no arguing with the results of adopting a more aggressive game. The next time you fight, don’t worry about what your opponent might do. Make them worry about what you are doing. In other words, kick ass.



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