Situational Awareness refers to your ability to recognize, perceive, feel, and be conscious of the various situations associated with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. As you become a more experienced grappler, and apply more efficient Jiu-Jitsu strategies, you will ultimately be able to detect certain patterns while sparring. Once this occurs, capitalizing on your opponent’s mistakes is going to feel second nature, almost like breathing.
What is Situational Awareness?
Situational awareness on the mat is basically when you have a full understanding about your body as well as your opponent’s body. As you increase situational awareness, you will be able to calculate and determine if certain positions are either beneficial or non-beneficial to your goals. For example, most black belts tend to think three or four moves ahead. Instead of going for a single submission and hoping that it works, they always have several backup plans that they can fall upon right away.
“Flashlight and Lantern” – An Analogy for Better Understanding
Let’s use a simple analogy to help describe the Jiu-Jitsu strategies we are speaking about. For a moment, pretend that your awareness is either a flashlight or a lantern, and your opponent is a dark room. Which form of light do you think would be better in helping you utilize better technique against your opponent?
Well, if you picture a flashlight, then you already know that it will concentrate on a single object and exclude everything else. So if you beam the flashlight in the corner of the room, then that is what it will focus on.
Likewise, a lantern brought into a dark room will shed light on all elements. If you compared this analogy to your Jiu-Jitsu skills, it would be like broadening your awareness to focus on all elements of a sparring match- not just a single one. In short, be the lantern while grappling.
Portland Jiu Jitsu Technique: Preventing Escape from the Half Guard
Practice Until Techniques Become Subconsciously Harnessed
The key to developing great awareness is to practice and drill techniques until you have subconsciously harnessed them. That way, you won’t need to think about anything while sparring- you’ll just flow. Many of the world’s greatest grapplers are all known for their incredible instincts. But this is mainly due to thousands of hours of repetition in a single position.
Performing a specific technique 1,000 times generally still isn’t enough to allow you to fully master it. In fact, on your path to become a black belt, you will likely drill the same situations tens of thousands of times.
Jiu-Jitsu strategies that focus on repetition are great because they allow you to develop a keen sense of situational awareness while on the mat. Instead of thinking about how to perform a certain technique, you can focus on bettering your position with the actual moves becoming second nature.