Guest post by James Duscio, a BJJ black belt under Walter Cascao Vital. He runs Cascao Evolution BJJ out of Las Vegas nv.
The amount of techniques a BJJ practitioner should know has always been debated. We do not have an art that is as well organized with technique requirements or recommendations such as Judo or Karate, but Cascao BJJ was one of the first to add formal belt testing to ensure there were a certain number of techniques from all positions that could be properly executed for each belt level.
The amount of techniques you want to learn is a very individual thing and has to take into account personal motivations within the art. If you goal is to just learn self defense, well then the number of moves is not very large. If your looking to compete, well then you have to get a little more deep into BJJ vs BJJ with a little more sports guard defense and offense. If your looking to teach, well then you need an even larger array of techniques for many situations and for many different body types and abilities. Students will be counting on you for that knowledge.
Realistically we can not be a master of more then a handful of techniques. We can be good at a lot of techniques, but to master a move and make it our bread and butter, that number count is much more limited. The best rule of thumb is to know a few from each major position, work on the setups and transitions as well as combining those techniques together so they become an efficient series. Also learn escapes from all the major submissions and positions and remember, combinations for escapes is also a good idea to work on.
Now throw in the self defense and you have a complete BJJ game. At this point the art has usually become a lifestyle for most and this is when you can really start playing around with sport guards, creative movements and experimentation. The techniques you choose for your game will most likely always be changing based on your personal needs and preference’s at the time so just because you are in love with a move today, don’t close your mind for something that might fit your needs better in the near future.
If we just train for what we really need to be efficient at combat it would get boring for most after a while and the drop out rate would be higher then it is. So expanding your arsenal becomes essential long term, the art and your opponents will always be evolving, so you must as well. So keep in mind you can never know too much, but we can only focus and master on a handful of techniques and tactics so do not overwhelm yourself with more then what you can handle. There will always be more moves out there then any one person could know and it’s up to you to figure out your magic number.