Political Jiu Jitsu has been defined as turning an enemy’s strength into a weakness. Taking an opponent’s criticism and using it against them is another example.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of news articles relating to the upcoming elections. I’ve noticed a couple of instances where Jiu Jitsu was thusly used as a metaphor. The metaphor was generally meant to illustrate how a politician or group could use an attack against them to their own advantage.
For example, National Review’s Washington editor, Eliana Johnson, noted last summer during the Republican primaries: “[Marco] Rubio has pulled off a bit of political jiu jitsu in opening [Ted] Cruz up to an attack from his right, which is particularly threatening for a candidate like Cruz, who is staking his campaign on uniting the conservative grassroots against the Republican establishment.”
In another example, the Hill’s Niall Stanage and Amie Parnes referred to Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi hearings performance as a chance “to perform some political jiu jitsu, turning Republican attacks to her advantage with independent and left-leaning voters.”
I like the idea of using the things that we learn in Jiu Jitsu class and applying them to our lives off the mat. As the above examples of “political jiu jitsu” show, we can use an opponent’s strength against them in lots of creative ways.
“Yielding” is a similar, though not identical, concept used in Tai Chi (which we teach here at Northwest Fighting Arts). As with Yielding in Tai Chi it means that you move with an opponent’s energy instead of fighting against it. Some view this as retreating, but in truth, you are merely moving to a better attack position.
We can find small examples of turning an enemy’s own strength against them everywhere in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This phenomenon is most obvious (and effective) with sweeps and takedowns.
One of the most basic and pure examples of this is the upa and Roll escape from the bottom of the crossbody position. The person on the bottom is up on their side. While the grappler on top uses their weight and strength to push their shoulder back down to the mat. On the bottom, the first person initially resists the energy and then moves out of the way. This uses their opponent’s own momentum to roll them over and take the top position. Students at NW Fighting Arts can find video examples of this technique in the Member’s Only section at www.nwfighting.com.
Here’s another great example of turning an opponent’s strength into a weakness. This video was shot during one of Master Rigan Machado’s many seminars at Northwest Fighting Arts.
The person in the quarter (or “turtle”) position grabs his opponent’s leg with the intention of setting up a single leg takedown. Master Machado doesn’t resist or try to pull his leg free. Instead, he changes his position and turns that arm wrapped around his leg into a liability for the person on the bottom.
“Political Jiu Jitsu” On and Off the Mat
You can use these techniques on the mat or in your everyday life. Try to remember to flow with your opponent’s energy and use their attacks to your advantage. And I hope that the continued practice of “political jiu jitsu” will keep the news interesting, regardless of who wins the elections this November!
Contact us if you live in the Portland, OR, area and wish to check out some classes: www.nwfighting.com.
Posted by Coach Erik N.