On Keeping Your Enemies (and their Coaches) Close


I don’t remember too much from my first BJJ tournament other than that the place was packed, that there were lots of huge guys strutting around like they owned the place, and that I was nervous as hell.

One thing I DO remember, however, is an inadvertent bit of help I received in a match. I was fighting this big guy and managed to sweep and pin him. All of a sudden I heard his coach yelling “bridge him over! He doesn’t have any base on that side“. Although this advice was meant for my opponent he actually ended up warning ME of my vulnerability instead.

So I posted my head on the floor to compensate for my lack of base and he never did successfully bridge me. Thanks for the warning coach!

This episode made a strong impression, and in subsequent competitions I always made sure not only to listen to my own coach, but also to my opponent’s coach. There were many times that I had access into my opponent’s brain by listening to what his coach was telling him, and sometimes those little tidbits of information made a huge difference.

Of course you should also listen to your own coach, but hopefully your coach is wording his advice in a way that isn’t much use to your opponent. Little harm can come of your coach letting you know to protect your arm, or to put more weight onto your opponent, but if he’s telling you stuff like “push down on his right knee and then pass to your left” then he might actually be helping your opponent instead of you!

So listen to you your coach, but also listen to your opponent’s coach. It’s a real life application of the old adage “keep your friends close but your enemies closer“.

And if you coaching or cornering someone in a match take care what you say and how you say it. It can be a little hard to do, but try to give advice which doesn’t give any useful information to the opponent.

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