Bjj flowcharts can help organize information in such a way that can make jiu jitsu much easier to learn.
Unfortunately, most people don’t learn jiu jitsu in an organized, strategic way.
Most grapplers learn techniques separately, meaning they pick up an arm bar here, a guillotine there. When they string these together in live rolling, occasionally they’ll catch a submission and find some success. But there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to understanding systems and knowing why certain moves work in different contexts.
We recently interviewed 10th Planet black belt Corey Guitard on his unique approach to teaching and learning bjj. This article will explore the different ways in which using bjj flowcharts can improve your ground game and make you a better overall grappler.
The Problem with How Some People Learn Jiu Jitsu
Getting good at jiu jitsu is complicated. Drilling, positional sparring, and regular sparring make up the majority of your training, but some people don’t always have access to consistent mat time. Don’t worry, there are still ways to improve that don’t involve beating someone up (or getting beaten up yourself).
Professor Corey argues that some of the most significant improvements one can make off the mats don’t involve physical conditioning, mobility, or flexibility. Instead, he talks about how organizing your jiu jitsu information is one of the best ways to level up when you don’t have access to real training, or if you just need to supplement your regular mat time.
“What you’re trying to do is get to a point in jiu jitsu where you don’t have to think that much,” says Mr. Guitard.
He admits that you may be considering small adjustments in balance, limb positioning, and grip strategies, but a lot of your live movements and decisions are going to come from trained habits.
When speaking on the thought process of a competition or hard sparring round, Professor Corey explains that, when training at a high level of intensity, “you’re not thinking about every single step of a technique – not even close.”
At first, you have to think really hard about everything you’re doing. Where do I grab? Do I push or pull? Should I have inside or outside control?
When you’re learning a technique or a position, you’ll have to walk yourself through each step at first. That’s normal and encouraged.
In fact, says Mr. Guitard, thinking is what makes you better at jiu jitsu. It’s only later on that we need to start learning how to think less and react more in certain situations.
Eventually, when you’ve reached a more advanced level of competence and comfort, you won’t need to be thinking about every single detail of the technique. You’ll only be thinking about the small adjustments you’ll have to make with your balance, grips, and positioning to make sure everything is going as planned.
As with anything, in order to get better, you first need to establish what you know and what you don’t know about the technique or position you’re studying.
It’s inevitable, Corey adds, that there will be more of what you don’t know than what you do know, no matter how advanced you are.
The best way to find out what you don’t know about different techniques and positions is to make bjj flowcharts.
What’s a BJJ Flowchart?
First, the flowcharts we’ll be talking about are like decision trees. You start with a question, dilemma, or problem, and that point branches out to different possible options. Those options can branch out to even more options, and your flowchart begins to take shape.
But where do you even start a bjj flowchart?
Well, first, we need to understand why we’re using bjj flowcharts.
Professor Corey preaches an approach to learning that emphasizes identifying problems and finding solutions.
There are many different approaches to finding problems in your game and deciding on which solutions to choose, but more on that later.
Bjj flowcharts are so useful because they allow grapplers to organize the information they already know about techniques, positions, and opponent reactions, allowing them to then identify holes in their games.
Through this exercise, the grappler learns what they don’t know, and they are then able to fix weakness by seeking out the relevant information.
Now, to return to the question above: where do you even start a bjj flowchart?
Well, you first need to establish some type of anchor. This can be a grip, a position, or any other fixed point. From there, you can think about all your opponent’s possible reactions from that set point and determine how you will counter.
What happens when the opponent pushes forward? What about when they push backwards? If force is applied in one direction, it’s likely to be applied in the opposite direction as a reaction – are you ready for what happens then?
Beginner bjj flowcharts will just scratch the surface of different positions, and will tend to be less specific regarding anchors and reactions.
More advanced bjj flowcharts tend to be much more specific, with handfuls of reactions and counters available from situations white belts didn’t even know existed!
Whether white belt or black belt, all grapplers can benefit from using bjj flowcharts to better organize the information they’ve spent so long acquiring and practicing.
Keep reading for more on how and when to use this amazing tool.
Examples of When to Use a BJJ Flowchart
There are two main routes when it comes to creating a bjj flowchart, says Mr. Guitard.
Current Holes in Your Game
First, you can start to create a bjj flowchart on a piece of paper and notice when there are problems that you don’t have solutions to.
For example, what happens when I’m playing De La Riva guard and I push my opponent to this side and they resist? What’s the follow up?
Well, if you can’t think of a solution to this problem, it’s time to go watch some high-level matches from ADCC or another similar organization. From there, when you find a grappler who has the solutions to your positional or technical problems, you know who to study.
Not only that, but now you can go to this grappler’s instructional videos to learn even more about the systems you were struggling with. What’s more, you can also go learn from this grappler’s coach for what will likely be a deeper view into these systems and concepts.
Professor Corey advises that you take this new information, practice it on your own and with training partners, and then integrate it into your bjj flowcharts.
Future Holes in Your Game – Elite Trends
Second, if you’re watching matches from ADCC or another high-level organization and notice a trend that is giving grapplers success, Professor Corey recommends seeking out those instructional videos right away.
By learning about trending techniques or positions that are successful at the highest level, it’s as if you’re investing in solving problems you don’t even have yet, but will likely have in the future.
From there, Professor Corey advises that you organize the information in the instructional according to what you will use first and most often, and branch out from there. What’s the most common problem you will face from that point? Once you establish how to solve it, you have another branch on your tree.
After several potential problems are solved, that tree can be added to your larger bjj flowcharts.
How to Get Started with BJJ Flowcharts
Here are a few different ways to easily begin incorporating bjj flowcharts into your routine.
Sit down with a pen and a paper and think about your experiences in training and in competition.
As mentioned above, this is where you should begin your bjj flowcharts. Identify holes in your game and proceed to watching match footage from ADCC or other high-level organizations, then find some relevant instructional videos and study from there.
Study your sparring footage from training or your match footage from competition.
By watching yourself, you can identify problems you have based on your movement or the reactions of your opponents. This way, you can find obvious holes in your game and look to find solutions from there.
There’s no lying to the camera. Watching footage of yourself can be difficult – especially if things aren’t going your way – but it can also be a sobering and helpful experience. Take the time to film yourself grappling and use it to identify problems that need solving. Sure, your ego may not enjoy watching you make mistakes, but this is the quickest way to making sure you don’t knowingly make those mistakes again.
Study match footage from ADCC or other high-level grappling organizations.
Find a grappler you enjoy watching and study their matches. From there, make observations about techniques and positions and see how they can be applied to your own game.
Likewise, if there is a specific position you enjoy and want to learn more about, or if there is a position that’s giving you a hard time but is coming up often in training, look to invest in an instructional DVD.
But don’t just get any instructional. There are hundreds, if not thousands of hours of instructional videos available, and nobody can consume them all. Find a grappler who executes a technique particularly well or has success with a position at a high level, and then buy their instructional or their coach’s instructional. This way, the information is much more geared towards what you want to learn.
From there, make a BJJ flowchart based on the positions you find relevant. Take them to training and see how they work in real-life. Keep what works for you, and discard the rest.
As a bonus, here are three matches that we highly recommend studying and using as inspiration for your bjj flowcharts.
- BJJ Match Study: Marcelo Garcia vs Kron Gracie at ADCC 2009, 77KG category quarterfinals.
- Conceptual Breakdown: Yuri Simoes vs Gary Tonon at Eddie Bravo Invitational 6, quarterfinals.
- Off-Balance E19.5 Fight Breakdown 04: Oliver Taza vs Ethen Crelinsten at BJJ Fanatics Grand Prix, finals.
Organizing information is one of the best ways to improve your jiu jitsu, and that’s made much easier with bjj flowcharts.
Take the time to sit down and think about the positions that you want to learn more about, and start writing out the different reactions and subsequent options you have from there.
Before you know it, your jiu jitsu will have taken off to a new level – where you won’t have to think about every single detail of a technique before executing it.
We want to thank Professor Corey Guitard for providing us with such awesome insight. The information he shared will help a lot of people get better, and we’re appreciative that he took the time to chat with us!
Want to learn more about Corey’s teaching methodology? Check out his latest instructional, Foundations of NoGi Grappling: Theories & Concepts!
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