In a recent podcast, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Robert Drysdale compared the simplicity and efficiency of wrestling to the increasing complexity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques. While Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu offers more dimensions and layers of sophistication compared to wrestling, Drysdale argues this has led the discipline astray from practical application.
Drysdale noted, “I think people are starting to think jiu jitsu is like an iPhone, in that the new iPhone is better than the old one.” He contends techniques should be judged based on “how efficient they are, rather than how popular or impressive they appear.”
Much like the reliable mechanics of an AK-47 rifle, Drysdale believes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu should focus on simple, efficient techniques rather than sophisticated moves that look impressive but often fail in actual competitions.
As he stated: “You want a jiu-jitsu that’s an AK-47 because there are fewer components to malfunction.”
As evidence, Drysdale points out that “white and blue belts try to add all these extras to their jiu jitsu, without establishing a solid foundation.” Young students neglect core skills like shrimping and basic guard retention, rushing instead to learn advanced techniques like berimbolos. Drysdale explains, “they’re not even trying to shrimp. They’re letting their opponent pass their guard.”
In contrast, Drysdale notes wrestlers drill a small set of fundamental techniques repeatedly. This simplicity and constant repetition allow them to truly master core skills. Like boxers throwing the same basic punches over and over, wrestlers do not need an ever-expanding repertoire of moves to succeed.
As he stated: “I’m not a wrestler, I’ve never wrestled. But I’ve seen people train. I mean they have like four things they practice, like five. It’s like boxers, the same as boxers. They have like six punches they practice over and over and that’s it.”
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu today, Drysdale argues “there is not enough emphasis on any technique for students to learn anything. They are just going through the motions without truly absorbing the techniques.” With so much information and numerous techniques promoted through social media and instructionals, beginning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu students never properly learn any technique.
The increasing complexity of modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has drawn practitioners away from practical application. As Drysdale stated, “we are not only distancing ourselves from the reality of combat, it is becoming more difficult for people to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu because they are overwhelmed with information.”
By returning to the simple foundation of core techniques, repeatedly practiced, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can retain its effectiveness as a martial art. The sophisticated techniques and Instagram-worthy moves will emerge naturally once that foundation is established.