The journey to learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be compared to learning a foreign language: first you learn the techniques (words), then you learn to string techniques together (make a sentence), and then you learn to roll, and blend all the techniques together (to form paragraphs and tell a story).
There is no question that the vast majority of time on the mat should be invested in mastering the details and nuances of all the various individual techniques: submissions, sweeps, escapes etc. Once you get your Blue belt, the fastest learning – the ability to transfer and use these techniques in a fight – may be achieved by drilling not only the individual techniques, but techniques inSeries. That is, smoothly stringing one technique into another in a sequence that makes sense. For instance, transitioning from an armbar in guard to a balance sweep or transitioning from a triangle to an armbar to an Omoplata.
The most challenging opponents to fight – and the ones that are winning the most championships – are those who take the initiative, and keep the initiative, by constantly moving and or attacking. One submission may be easily defended against, as is often the second, but the third or fourth attempt in a row becomes much more difficult to defend. That level of technique proficiency is certainly not achieved overnight – it comes from hours and hours of perfect practice. Master the individual technique and continue to drill it from White Belt to Black Belt, but then drill two techniques – from every position – in sequence. When you have mastered that, and hit that sequence in you sparring consistently, then add a third technique….and eventually a fourth. Just as we speak in sentences, we fight in series or groups of techniques. The more proficient we are with our “vocabulary of techniques” the longer, the better and the more effective our “sentences” become.
The sequence may include pure multiple submissions, a submission followed by a sweep to set up a submission from a another position, or a series of moves or escapes that transition you into a better position (for example going from side control, to technical mount, to full mount or taking the back. The point is that you want your techniques to flow smoothly together in drills so that they can be executed instantly while sparring when you recognize the opportunity. This is the creative beauty of BJJ – to arrange the techniques into your own style (or language).
Work with your training partner, ask you Professor, go to open mat times and develop a sequence of techniques that you can master…one technique at a time, one series at a time.
While BJJ is getting more complicated by many of the “new” techniques, the basic techniques executed perfectly and in series will win you multiple World Championships. Just ask Roger Gracie. Never has it been more true: “Do not fear the man who does 1000 techniques. Rather fear the man who does one technique 1000 times.”