Legos vs Models

RJJ LogoI was having a discussion the other day with a former student. We were talking about how some of our techniques sound similar and I pointed out that our techniques are really like meta-techniques. What I mean by this is most of our more advanced techniques are built of smaller sub techniques. They have a formula of attack, defense, modifier, finish.

For example, lets look at a technique like Inner wrist lock take-down with shoulder pin finish. This technique has an attack, a counter, a modifier, and a finish. It starts with the club hand attack that is defended by the upper cross block to inner wrist lock with take-down modifier and to a shoulder pin finish.

We can take these parts and use them in other techniques. We can see these parts in other techniques. Keep in mind, most of our advanced ‘techniques’ follow this path. By changing one part, you change our name of the whole technique.

If you take a good look at the “inner wrist lock take-down with shoulder pin finish”, the “inner wrist lock take-down with shoulder break finish”, and the “inner wrist lock with elbow break finish”. These are all containing similar parts. They all start with a club hand attack. They all have an upward cross block. They all have the inner wrist lock. Some have a take-down, some do not. The finishes on them are the main difference.

What is great about this is, once you put the pieces together and really see them as being made up of parts, you realize you can change out the parts and come up with whole new ‘techniques’ based on what you already know. You can do the inner wrist lock from a lapel grab, a push, a straight punch, or a two-handed grab.

You can add a throw or take-down to the inner wrist lock. You can take that inner wrist lock and flow into another technique entirely. You have to be able to set your mind free of the predefined paces that you have learned as a beginner and be able to see the bigger picture. This is where the art really shines. You are given the basic building blocks and some preset patterns. It is up to you to build what you want with those pieces.

So the title I selected is Legos vs Models. I did not do this on a whim or to be artistic. I feel that when you start out as student in our art, you are taught the model method. You are taught how to build whole constructs. You are taught techniques as part of a preset pattern. We feed you the attack, the defense, the counter, the modifier, and the finish.

This is in many ways like a model or a lego kit. You follow the directions and at the end you have the thing pictured on the box. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if you stay in this phase, I feel you are missing a big part of the larger picture. You need those beginning steps… in the beginning. You eventually have to move past that. We give you the opportunity at the brown belt level to begin experimenting. I recommend you take that. Learn what works for you.

As you learn, you will discover what works for you, for your body style, your natural inclinations, and your general mindset. Some people like to be aggressive, others like to be more defensive. You have to figure out what works for you.

To continue the metaphor, with a model you can build a plane, a car, a boat, or whatever the model is designed for. However, with legos you CAN build a car, a plane, a boat, or even a house, or a tank, or a castle. Legos open you up to many different things only constrained by your creativity and the number of blocks you have.

I challenge you to look at the techniques and see if you can see the parts. See what makes them work, see what common pieces they contain. Don’t look at them as an end product but rather as whole made up of reusable parts. If you don’t know where to start I will give you a hint.

Look at these two techniques. First look at the ‘Simple wrist lock throw from push attack with roll over arm lock finish’. Then look at ‘Defense from forward knife thrust attack, basic wrist lock throw, wrist or elbow submission’. See if you can see the similarities.

Now, lets take that to the next step. How could you apply the ‘simple wrist lock’ portion to punch attack? How about from a lapel grab? Could you apply it from a wrist grab?

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About the Author

My name is Clayton Søby and I am a Nidan from Rushmore Jukite Ju-Jitsu. I started studying Jukite Ju-Jitsu in August 2001. I still train when I can. In the meantime, I keep busy writing a monthly column for the website and studying Aikido here in Maryland. I hope to see you in class whenever I can make it back to visit.