If you practice BJJ, you've probably heard it being compared to many human creations. Chess. A fortress, with its stone walls symbolizing the guard. A lab. A Swiss Army knife. A shield. And even, pft, a rat trap.
But BJJ can also be viewed as a language, tongue without letters -- with the exception, perhaps, of the mysterious Z-guard.
Yes, BJJ can be viewed, learned and transmitted as a language. The experts are the masters and enthusiasts capable of forming long sentences, of going 30, 50 minutes scribbling on the mats, if their opponent can take it. Now, a white-belt can repeat a few letters and words, making an effort, with their tongue between their lips, to draw along the lines of each maneuver. A crude sweep, thus, is similar to repeating that "the book is on the tabel, oops, the table."
Or, as a purple-belt user wrote the other day, "The fundamentals taught by Rickson on the site were the page that was missing from my book, thank you!"
Indeed, it's not rare to see on the mats around the world many students who know Jiu-Jitsu, know its principles from A to Z and have mastered the language, but stumble when faced with complex discourse. They all know the ABCs -- just not exactly when to use the letters and the verbs. Connection, and rhythm, are missing.
In the lessons taught by Master Rickson, the details, fundamentals and apparently "invisible" tips are the basics that allow the student to express themselves in a fluid, convincing, effective way, much like a lawyer in court or a diplomat at a conference.
According to Rickson, practicing BJJ without learning the basic lessons about how to breathe, exhale and work the lungs is like learning the ABCs of Jiu-Jitsu while skipping several letters: at some point, you're going to have difficulty writing longform.
Check out, in the following video, an example of a fundamental of Rickson's ABCs. Opening your legs correctly, like a pair of compasses, like a well-drawn letter A
, may be the difference between having a secure standing base and falling like a sack of potatoes being pushed. And for those who fall to the slightest nudges on the letter A
, even the Z-guard isn't much help.