Ryan Gracie and the navigation principle
I have had the benefit of one great sensei, Renzo Gracie, and many fine mentors in my years of development in jiu jitsu. A very important mentor was Ryan Gracie. It was from him that I saw the great value of what I call (for want of a better term) the “navigation principle.” Mr Gracie was one of the most explosive, dynamic and intuitive grapplers I ever trained with. He had an uncanny sense of first creating a scramble and then in what appeared to be a chaotic situation where neither person had control of the other, somehow navigate himself directly into a submission hold. This made him very dangerous at all times in a match and lead to a very high submission rate per minute of sparring. I was very impressed by this and worked hard to implement it into my game and that of my students. Let’s define a scramble as ANY SITUATION WHERE THE TWO ATHLETES HAVE CLOSE CONTACT WITH OTHER IN DYNAMIC MOVEMENT, BUT NEITHER HAS A GREATER ABILITY TO CONTROL THE OTHERS MOVEMENT. Most people just follow their instincts in these situations and hope something good emerges in the course of the movement. Better athletes may work with a general insight that confers some form of advantage in a scramble, such as keeping higher position throughout the scramble. In the sport of jiu jitsu, the best outcome in any situation is submission - so it is very valuable indeed to train your mind to SEE SUBMISSION ENTRIES IN THE CHAOS OF A SCRAMBLE SO THAT YOU EMERGE AT THE END IN A WINNING POSITION. This is no easy task. We are not born with this as an instinct. It has to be developed. The way to develop it is to choose one submission. Understand what the PRECURSORS to that submission are and then start training yourself to see those precursors in the midst of dynamic scrambles and move into that submission. When you are confident with one, add another, until you have an arsenal. Your aim is to be able to automatically navigate in a fast moving scramble straight to a preferred submission. Once mastered, this will prove a truly valuable skill to you. It will make you a very dangerous opponent on the mat and give you a sense of direction in chaos.