Have you ever tried to solve a Rubik’s cube?
A 3D combination puzzle with 6 different colors on each cube wall.
You turn the cube rows and columns over and under in various combinations to make the pieces line up by color. Eventually, getting to the end state of matching all 6 walls of the cube by color. Victory.
Over the years many games and guides have shared the secret to the puzzle.
Even so, it remains elusive to many.
The world record for solving the 3×3 cube is 3.47 seconds.
Computer programs and other internet searches will identify even faster times.
Even though tutorials and videos exist in detail on how to solve the cube, it doesn’t mean you will solve it in world record timing or even at all especially when you first try it.
Our Jiujitsu is similar.
Even though we often use chess to display the seemingly endless variations of jiujitsu, the cube also displays the cycle of learning and skill acquisition that occurs when we first pick up the cube until we pick up the patterns (the algorithm) that makes it easier and easier.
In this article we’ll draw correlations to the cube and architecting your Jiujitsu A-Game.
What is Algorithmics?
Oxford defines an algorithm as a set of rules or processes to be followed in calculations or other problem solving operations.
Algorithmics is the systematic study of the design and analysis of algorithms.
You can think of Jiujitsu as the study of solving problems – creating and executing algorithms.
If you’ve been training, you probably see the relationship here.
Think of the entire cube as a potential Jiujitsu battle.
[Battle sounds cooler than training or match. Let’s go with that.]
A very simple algorithm could be a quick exchange like executing the Double-leg takedown to Side Control to the Americana submission.
Or a Closed Guard sequence of Controlling posture with collar and sleeve grips to a scissor sweep on a kneeling opponent to mount control to a straight armbar.
You lined up all your sequences and processes so that you solved the puzzle – at least one side.
These sequences get more complicated when you add in an opponents defense and escapes along the way.
When you get past these initial challenges, maybe 2 sides of the cube, or more, get solved. It’s like moving from defending a move to escaping it. Your on your way but not quite in control or threatening a submission…but on the path.
Sometimes, however, the sides of the cube become jumbled again and you have to start over.
Failed attempts to execute your game and restarting a position. A failed guard pass, a failed pin control and you end up in guard. That’s frustrating but the solution is still there.
Once you start having a degree of success executing your techniques your proficiency is improving.
At the point you begin solving the cube, you’ve picked up on the patterns that lead to success. Now you start practicing that algorithm to automate it.
Automated practice involved moving the sequences from the conscious to the unconscious. That is how people can now solve the 3 x 3 cube in less than 10 seconds or less.
Those techniques become part of your A-Game arsenal.
On top of that, add in the unique characteristics of individual level of skill, physical attributes, intensity of the environment, etc. and now you get more complexity.
New problems require sharper and more precise problem solving skills and an attention to the details.
The bottom line is this: algorithms in jiujitsu are simple but infinitely complex in the amount of variation that you can encounter along your path to a solution.
And it is all married to your perspective to identify the keys to success for you and automate them.
Organizing Your Algorithms
When you start with the cube and it is all jumbled, each row/column of the cube can be thought of as a sequence of techniques that occur within and across the phases of Jiujitsu battle. Every twist of the cube is a change in the configuration towards or away from the potential solution.
To keep these possibilities organized, we like to think of the lifecycle of the Jiujitsu battle in three primary phases: Gripping, Grappling, and Submitting.
Within these phases of battle we have categories of techniques to choose from:
- Phase 1: Gripping: You have to get a grip on both the person to start executing algorithms
- Technique Categories: Takedowns, Throws & Trips
- Phase 2: Grappling: Your primary algorithmic exchanges on the ground happen here
- Technique Categories: Pins & Guards
- Phase 3: Submitting: Solving the puzzle of your opponent.
- Technique Categories: Strangleholds & Joint-locks
These categories cover over 95% of possibilities of Jiujitsu battle. There are numerous options and variations within each category (too many to mention), but you understand the idea here.
Going Deeper on Your Technique
The cube can be used to represent your current level of proficiency. In the heat of the battle your algorithm needs to be more effective than your opponent’s.
We have four primary modes to each technique that move towards a solution (Defense or Offense).
In the quest for the most effective and efficient technique, leveraging the laws of physics and biomechanics and expressing your technique through principles will give you a superior advantage. This is the pinnacle of Jiujitsu.
Laws govern the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your technique.
Leverage, gravity, and human anatomy provide some hard rules to work within.
The truer you remain to the laws the greater your success will be in expressing and executing your Jiujitsu. Think if it as Jiujitsu Science.
Principles are concepts and methods of expressing technique.
Things like Kuzushi, Timing, Connection, Detachment, Distance, etc., all influence the success or failure of your technique.
Think of principles as the Artistic side of Jiujitsu.
So, blending art with science across the spectrum of your technique expression (your algorithms) will give you a distinct way to assess and evolve your Jiujitsu maturity.
How Do I Improve?
This whole article was meant to make one clear point. When you start anything new, there is work to be done.
If it’s a Rubik’s cube, or a Jiujitsu technique, we absorb, analyze, and automate our skill through a clear pattern of motor learning. It is your “A-Game engine”.
In Jiujitsu, your quest is to move techniques within and across the phases of battle into your A-Game.
To continue to improve, you need a way to measure and monitor your technique mastery to make them the sharpest in your arsenal.
We’ll cover this in our next article.
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If you need any help developing your through your Jiujitsu A-Game, send us an at firstname.lastname@example.org.