World BJJ Champion Robert Drysdale Explains why he Disagrees with Rickson Gracie


Rickson Gracie doesn't like jiu-jitsu techniques that aren't designed to finalize the opponent. A Jiu-jitsu match is like a hunter versus a prey. Hunters don't try to get points, medals, or trophies. Why should a BJJ fighter?  Accordingly, Rickson scorns such innovations as berimbolo and 50/50. (Read Rickson's views here).

Some people agree with him. But not everyone. World BJJ champion Robert Drysdale disagrees. Below, in an exclusive comment to GTR, he explains why.   


"The Only Relevant Question Is: Does it Work?"

By Robert Drysdale


Rickson is quick to dismiss berimbolo as a non-submission oriented move that holds any efficiency in a real situation (MMA or self-defense). For arguments sake, let us ignore the fact that much of what we all teach in JJ, including what Rickson teaches (such as collar chokes) is impractical in the real situations he describes. So, in this regard at least, berimbolo is no different from many of the techniques he practices, and teaches, himself. Instead, lets focus on the practicality of these moves in competition.

In regards to 50/50, it is, in my view and experience, a vicious position for submission, especially if heel-hooks are made available, arguably even more so than the back. It is perfectly applicable in the live-situations he is concerned with. I would add that I know people that are very submission savvy from 50/50, even when heel-hooks are not available. Berimbolo less so, albeit a highly efficient move in competition, it does not translate so well into the realm of MMA and Self-Defense (much like collar chokes). 

It becomes clear from this, that they should be analyzed individually. Rickson does not do this, but rather, labels them as either inefficient (in a real situation), or a "stalling position" (ignoring the fact that all positions in JJ can be used for stalling. "Standing" being the ultimate stalling position in JJ competition). In other words, his position, is not an analytical and pragmatic one, but, perhaps, a biased one, which leads us to his motivation.

I don't believe it is unusual for an older generation to critique new methods. In fact, I believe this is standard in many disciplines as well as in cultural practices (I often find myself telling children they shouldn't spend so much time on their iPads…). I can't stop but to wonder if his position is grounded on concern for the Arts' [jiu-jitsu] future, or out of resentment that his unfamiliarity with these moves has created. 

It is fascinating, to me at least, how quick people are to dismiss rules that don't favor them. In the case of IBJJF, personally, I believe they are very flawed. However, most accept them and learn how to compete under them, regardless of personal preferences. Others choose to dismiss them since they rarely do well under these rules and, thus, choose to blame the rules rather than their own inadequacies (self-deception comes to mind here). 

I would like to add, that there were no problems with the rules when Rickson was winning (IBJJF rules have remained largely unchanged since its inception), the problems began, when the game changed and adapting became an exercise in humility. It is, as I see it, pointless to ponder on whether a move is old or new, if it is aesthetically pleasing or not, or if it is simple as opposed to complex. The only relevant question is: does it work? And if so, in what arena (keeping the  distinction between sport and martial-art in mind and where they, do and don't, overlap)?

I also agree with your logic [Robert is referring to this article] that "They probably think strategically as well (as in, "I have a 10% chance of finishing X with a 30% chance of losing the match if I try, whereas I have a 55% chance of winning on points, if I play more conservatively. A lot of competitors will opt for the strategy with the larger potential pay-off, defined as the value of the outcome discounted by the probability that it will happen)."  

I have often argued that rules (for the most part) will determine the boundaries and limitations of competitive endeavors. Competitors will naturally gravitate towards winning strategies, making the blame on the athlete obsolete and, thus, warranting a discussion in regards of improvements on the rule-set.

I hope this does not come across as an attack on Rickson. It is not, I have met him more than a few times and our exchanges were always friendly and, I dare say, our approach to JJ as a form of combat is very similar. I will also admit, I can empathize with Rickson. The process of retiring is a difficult one. Once being used to be the most dominant person on the mats, and slowly watching twenty year olds slowly catch up to me, has been the most difficult opponent I have ever faced. It is important, however, that we remember that the purpose of JJ is, from a combat perspective, efficiency. Regardless of what changes the Sport is going through, if they are efficient, they ought to be assimilated. 



The views expressed above are those of the author (Robert Drysdale).

Another comment from Robert Drysdale here.

Rickson's Opinions about berimbolo and 50-50 here.


(c) GTR 2017, All rights reserved.



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