When that move “doesn’t work on him”

We’ve all overheard this one. Two grapplers will be either finishing their rolling or momentarily pause during it, with one of them explaining “that move never works on you”.

there are 2 likely reasons for this:

1) The most likely, is that your technique was just shitty and that particular partner just happened to see through it and defend accordingly. Most times it isn’t what is different with the partner you couldn’t get it to work on, it’s usually the weakness’ or inexperience of all the others whom it DID work on that should concern you. The worst technique ever will usually work on the new dummies, and it can start to foster bad habits as you are repeatedly rewarded (in the form of a successful tap or pass etc) for a technique with too many holes. For sure, this would be exposed by someone with more experience. And when it does, it can tempt the “that move never works on you”. Just because someone tapped or the move worked on the others doesn’t mean it was a good technique, and that this particular grappler is just an exception.

2) They have some outstanding physical attribute(s). They are too heavy or too strong or flexible. This just means that your techniques just needs to be more like the way you learned them, and not the abbreviated way you‘ve gotten away with in the meantime.  The previous victims were likely lesser experienced partners tapping out of discomfort, fear, or possible sympathy or boredom. The defense to any attack isn’t what the defender does, it’s what he notices the attacker isn’t doing. Likely, you didn’t apply the correct technique in the first place , at the proper time, with all the proper details applied, in order, technically.

Regardless, which would you wish to correct in your own training? Would you attempt to change your partner’s attributes, defenses, natural, technical, or otherwise? Or would you train your own technical savvy, that would apply to all other grapplers you are to evolve with, which includes the “exception”?

It’s totally natural to wonder why that move didn’t work on them, and why they are such an exception. But be thankful that they exposed what you were doing wrong all along.

Ask: What am I doing wrong with this technique, exposed by the “exception”, that is going unnoticed or not seized upon by the others?! A constant state of adjusting, tweaking what we think we know.


Published by: JonFriedland

Jon Friedland here, finally putting some of my thoughts to type. I've been training well over 23 years, receiving my black belt in 2007. I’m a 16-year dojo owner and head instructor of Brazilian Jiujitsu. Started training Jiujitsu casually in early 1995, formally in 1997. Teaching BJJ since 2000, i received my black belt in 2007, opened my academy, Neutral Ground, in 2005, am the head instructor, and am currently a 3rd degree black belt under Master Pedro Sauer. i can be reached at jon@wisconsinbjj.com

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