Power Is More Than Just Physical Strength
People tend to believe that power is only physical. While it’s true that you need to do physical conditioning to excel at jiu jitsu, this is the equivalent of changing the oil in your car–pure maintenance. To become a good driver, you have to practice day in and day out, on crowded highways and narrow streets. It doesn’t matter how capable your car is or how flashy it looks unless you know how to use it.
The same idea applies to jiu jitsu. You can meet people who are completely jacked but have zero flexibility and questionable balance. And you can meet people who aren’t as brawny as some of their classmates but who can use technique more efficiently.
Now this isn’t to say that you have to choose between brawn and technique–ideally you should have both. There have been plenty of times when I’ve been overpowered by someone stronger and less knowledgeable, and there have been just as many times that I’ve put the brakes on someone larger than me.
But from what I’ve observed, power comes from a mix of belief, conditioning, and proper form. Jiu jitsu is all about movements that make your life easier, so if you’re sweating profusely you’re either going up against a formidable opponent, or you’re trying to force your way out of a situation, which won’t help if the person you’re up against knows how to counter.
Just last weekend, when I was sparring with a black belt, I could feel the light years difference of knowledge between us because not only was I submitted all three rounds, but at the end of it all, I was sweaty and bedraggled and the black belt looked as if he’d barely broken a sweat.
That kind of pristine calm and control is what most jiu jitsu practitioners aim to achieve through their training. Calm brings clarity, and clarity helps you defend yourself without the risk of legal repercussions, because you won’t be thinking wildly and making impulsive decisions out of desperation.
But one thing that struck me while sparring with the black belt was his incredible capacity for foresight. Higher belts always encourage lower belts to continue practicing jiu jitsu regularly, because one day jiu jitsu will start to “click”. This is because all jiu jitsu moves are like small pieces of a puzzle, that when put together give you the big picture of a fight and it’s numerous possibilities. Seeing the big picture allows you to plan with both instinct and strategy so that you can accurately predict your opponent’s moves to the point of submission.
This skill is absolutely indispensable, for both your legal and physical safety. So many times people are arrested because they mistakenly believe that two wrongs makes a right. You should always remember that what you consider to be “right” isn’t necessarily so by law, and as someone training to learn an elite martial art that can either control or cripple, you have a greater burden of responsibility than most.
Your power comes from learning technique to the point of instinct, while being aware of your physical limitations. Pair this with the skill of foresight, and you’ll become wiser and more efficient in all aspects of your jiu jitsu game.