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Jiu Jitsu is just surfing


Jiu Jitsu is not about stopping people, it’s about surfing people.—Evandro Nunes

I love the surfing analogy and use it all the time. In fact, the name “Third Way” is a reference to the concept of blending with an opponent’s movement. This is exactly what surfers do. A surfer can’t control a wave. They can’t redirect a wave. All they can do is integrate with it. Jiu Jitsu in its most sophisticated form is essentially human surfing. This is what allows a weaker grappler to have success against a bigger, stronger opponent. Matching strength is rarely a winning strategy.

New Jiu Jitsu practitioners almost universally proclaim “I need to get stronger!”. When ones technique is limited it’s a natural impulse to seek success through improved physical capability. Now, make no mistake, being stronger is better than being weaker. But the truth is, unless you managed to hit the genetic lottery, you will never be strong enough to deal with everyone you face on the mat. So if you are frustrated that there are big strong guys in your gym that give you a lot of trouble, you’re not alone. Nearly everyone feels this frustration.

But it’s important to understand that what they present is a technical and strategic challenge more than a physical one. I know it doesn’t feel like it when you’re being smashed, but it’s the truth. The only viable way to deal with someone that has superior physical attributes is to have superior technique—better timing and sensitivity, more accurate movement, better balance and weight distribution, more mechanically sound structures, better grip precision, and a bigger arsenal of technical solutions at your disposal. Good technique is what allows a surfer to, well, surf, despite the wave’s massive power differential.

So focus on technical development and learn to stay relaxed and present. If you can do that you’ll soon be much better equipped to deal with people of all shapes and sizes, and you’ll enjoy much more longevity in the sport. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to the gym to lift heavy objects, but the fundamental purpose of strength is to help achieve better technique and greater efficiency at lower RPMs. Strength should never be a substitute for technique. The goal is to become a great surfer.

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