Advanced Jujitsu Training: How Commitment and Realistic Thinking Can Make All the Difference in Self-Defense

Black Belt Hall of Fame member George Kirby drives home the importance of commitment, follow-through and spontaneous modification of your techniques because real fights don't include second chances.

Your jujitsu training should consist of commitment and the realization that the techniques you use won't always work. These concepts are interrelated. On the street, there are no second chances. If you realize you did a technique wrong and it's not working, you can't ask the attacker to stop and start over again. So, on one hand, you have to commit to defending yourself and finishing the technique if it's workable. This goes back to training in your dojo.You don't practice hitting a target — you practice hitting through the target.


Likewise, you don't stop going through the movements of a throw just because your opponent starts to move; you finish the technique. Why? Because you're training your ki (energy) to flow in a direction that will cause your opponent's ki to be used against him, thus allowing your technique to succeed.

If you have positioned your respective xyz-axes correctly, trained your ki and trained yourself to complete the move, technique, kata, etc., you have commitment. You will be more successful in the execution of techniques because your axes and origin points are aligned in a manner to maximize the use of you and your attacker's ki. Success is inevitable!

Commitment is also essential because you might inadvertently start a technique backward. Rather than turning a wrist to your left, you might turn it to your right. What do you do now?

Again, you cannot start over, and it may not be wise to reverse direction to execute the technique you wanted. Instead, you've got to continue with what you've got. As my sensei said to his students (and as I say to mine), “Go! Go! Go! Keep going! Keep going!"

If you want to execute a hand throw (te nage) but go the wrong way and instead apply a wrist lock (tekubi shimi waza), you have to continue with that. If, while trying to do a corkscrew (ude guruma),) you turn the arm counterclockwise instead of clockwise, you'll end up with a shoulder-lock rear takedown (ude guruma ushiro). And that's OK. Just continue and flow.

An awareness of this concept is an essential element in learning the art. On the street, you have to keep moving. It's part of your commitment.

There are times, however, when you commit to a technique and realize that it isn't working the way you want. Maybe your and your opponent's axes aren't lined up. Maybe his ki is resisting yours.

Whatever the reason, you still don't get a second chance. What you do get, however, is the ability to change what you are doing to make your defense successful. This is called mushin (“no mind") — a concept that works only if you have a good technical background and sufficient practice.

A good technical background provides you with a variety of techniques that can be used against a particular attack, and sufficient practice allows you to be competent in the execution of those techniques and no conscious effort is required to use them or switch between them. Practice also creates awareness of your and your opponent's xyz-axis, their relationship, and how to modify techniques appropriately to execute a workable defense.

About the Author:

George Kirby has been practicing and teaching the art of jujitsu since the 1960s. He was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as the 2007 Instructor of the Year and is the author of several acclaimed and sought-after instructional books, including Jujitsu: Basic Techniques of the Gentle Art — Expanded Edition, Jujitsu Figure-4 Locks: Submission Holds of the Gentle Art and Advanced Jujitsu: The Science Behind the Gentle Art.

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