Understand the Hierarchy of Details

Posted on Posted in Jiujitsu Talk

Beginning -> Process -> Result

Nearly everything we do follows this chain. In BJJ, we study positions and transitions between them. When we learn something, a flood of details is downloaded on us. How do we keep track of these details? Try this approach.

Cluster details according to order and hierarchy.

The beginning.

Every technique has a clear starting point, and a cue that signals when to go. The cue is our springboard from the starting point to the process. We are looking for a specific position with a predictable set of behaviors. This is our anchor point, and we can add supporting details to it. Without an anchor, we can have a hand in the right place, but be in the wrong position to do something relevant. Once we’re certain about our starting point, taking inventory of our limbs (and theirs) comes next. Both hands, both feet, and the head should be doing something specific.

The process.

Now that the beginning stage is well defined, we can begin prioritizing details in the process. Everything¬†we do has a concept that makes it I work. And the details support the concept. Additional details prevent unplanned outcomes. Are we holding a static control, or moving to another position? What needs to move, and what has to stay in place? How does space, angle and weight distribution apply in each step? Upon meeting a complex technique, it helps to label brief resting points. These ‘in between’ positions offer additional anchor points to peg details to. Only once the steps and details are somewhat automatic are we ready to speed up and make a movement seamless.


Without a clear desired result, nothing happens. Sweeps, submissions, guard passes, and escapes all have a limited set of control points at the end. Understanding what these points are and how they work is most important. From here, we have time to troubleshoot.

Streamline and test effectiveness.

Everyone misses details in a match. Practicing as well as we can reduces how many we miss. Organizing them based on importance keeps us in control of the situation. For example, one detail  in back control may prevent a rare foot lock that your friend uses. This detail is not as important as keeping control of the position in a seperate match.


Starting Point and Cue.

Both hands, feet, and head.



Supporting details.

Preventative details.

Additional Anchor Points.


Control Points.

Supporting details.

Preventative details.