Thursday, June 26, 2008

Visually building an A-game gameplan

In Jiu Jitsu training, I love to just go with the flow and see whatever happens without having any plan. I always have some moves that I work on, but I have never really had any specific plan for what I do. Since my last post, I made a decision to try and change this for a periode. Therefore, I have been doing a project of determining my gameplan for my A-game.

Just recognizing the techniques that I consider my A-game has been a lot of work, since Jiu Jitsu can sometime be a big confusing mess of techniques. Watching some sparring videos of myself has really helped me to understand what moves and positions I consider the fundamental building blocks of my game.

As I slowly started to get an idea of my gameplan, I realized that it didn't work just to keep it in my head. I had to write it down. I tried to write it down just as regular text, but it was too confusing to read. Then I stumbled over a piece of software called OmniGraffle, which is a super easy to use application for creating flowcharts on a Mac. With this, I have been able to make a visual, easy-to-read overview of my current A-game gameplan.

I started out by making a flowchart of my entire game. This ended up, as I expected, being pretty big and confusing. I have been trying to fill in as much as possible, but I had to leave things out like specific sweeps, escapes and position transitions or it would be too much. Here is the result:

From here, I boiled it down to my current A-game and ended up with this:

Ofcourse, it is missing many little details in between, but I want to keep it as simple as possible, to make it easy for me to look at.

The fundamental positions are symbolised with grey boxes. The boxes with the black border, are positions/transitions and the ones with red borders are submissions. I have tried to outline my preferred route to the submissions with thick, blue arrows. The thinner, black arrows symbolize alternative routes, that I might take if something is missing.

I have decided to make it an offensive only flowchart, since my game for being on bottom is really simple: Escape to a top position right away, then go back to follow the plan. Whenever I leave the route of the gameplan, I am immediately looking to find a way back into the chart and back into the route to submission.

When sparring in the gym, I am currently trying to follow this plan no matter what opponent I wrestle. Some of them are really good, others are beginners, some of them know everything about this gameplan and therefore exactly what I am planning to do and some are just really good at defending my game. I think that all of these factors just makes my progression on my gameplan even more solid, since I am forcing myself to follow it, no matter how hard or easy it is for me to do it. So whenever I am in a difficult situation, I am always thinking to myself "follow the gameplan", so I don't take the easy way out and bail a position or something, but always try to improve setting up these specific moves.

My plan is to work on this specific plan for a period, to see just how good I can get at executing it against any opponent. I will of course post updates on the project here, as well as try to continuously optimize the gameplan along the way.

Also, I can see a handful of really interesting things on the big chart of my entire game, which I will look more into soon and post about. Looking at my game visually this way gives me a much better idea of what I am actually doing, pretty cool :)


Sha said...

Nice ! I also planned out some of my game a while back:

I had the same realization as you: I hadn't really defined my A game.
And like you, I also separated moves into positions, submissions, and transitions.

Looking back at this, my game has changed a lot as I've been concentrating on half guard a lot more.
Hopefully I'll be able to really narrow my game down and focus my training on just a few moves, until I'm really good at them.

Anonymous said...

That's a great game map out.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Christian. I'm not a fighter myself, but the level of planning and technique that goes into a plan like this is just fascinating to me.

Anonymous said...

That's a really cool way to delineate your jujitsu game. I first thought of it when I read Eddie Bravo's "Mastering the rubber guard" - and he's got a tiny bit of what you've put down here, but nowhere near the extent you took it.

The larger mind map was intriguing, but I agree that the smaller on is more useful. It's got a simple elegance that I'm sure pays dividends on the mat. What program did you use to construct the maps?