Revisiting the Pareto Principle 

Recently a colleague posted this meme of Bruce Lee.


A few posts back, I wrote about the Pareto principle and how it can have a profound influence on making your Jiu-Jitsu become more affective.

The essence of the Pareto principle is that 20% of your input is responsible for 80% of your output. In other words, 80% of your performance comes from 20% of what you know.

If you need a refresher, you can find out more information about the Pareto Principle here.

The idea behind the Pareto principle is to facilitate maximum efficiency.

For example, if only 20% of what you know on the mats is responsible for 80% of your performance, than you can eliminate what is not helping you and focus on the knowledge that provides most of your effectiveness.

Absorb what is Useful

Here is a fundamental principle of Pareto’s law. Take what is useful (i.e.: what provides 80% of your output) and facilitate its growth. Invest and enrich your knowledge and become a master in these areas.

Discard what is Not

You may notice throughout your Jiu-Jitsu tenure that there are a lot of techniques you have learned over the days, weeks, months, years, etc that you never apply. You may notice that are many more techniques that you may have “forgotten”. You would never try to recapture these moments in competition or a live sparring match because you would lose valuable reaction time.

This does not mean do not try to relearn what you’ve “lost” but rather to focus your efforts more on what provides the best, most effective performance.

The keyword here is “EFFECTIVE”!

Would you rather be a jack of all trades or a master of at least a few?

Jack of all trades implies that you are “good enough” in all aspects but you do not excel at anything in particular. In other words, you know most positions, but you aren’t doing anything special in any of them.

Mastering a few implies that you are taking what is most effective and putting your efforts into maximizing your performance in these areas while still being a jack of every other trade.

Apply What is Uniquely Your Own

This philosophy may spur some controversy for the following reasons:

1) It is important to learn everything and try everything

2) It is important to train and take risks and think outside the box

3) Jiu-Jitsu is about learning the art in its entirety and not picking and choosing what you want to learn and what you don’t want to learn.

These are incredibly valid points.

For one, yes, it is important to learn everything and try things you wouldn’t normally try. It is equally important to take risks. As a matter of fact, I wrote about that here. By trying everything and taking risks, you will learn to apply what is your own and figure out what works and what does not work for you.

Jiu-Jitsu is a very deep and wide-ranging art with so many applications that it would be almost impossible to understand everything at once.

You’ve heard the saying “A black belt is a white belt that never quit”

This right here implies that a black belt is still learning and from some perspectives “is finally ready to start learning”

The truly humbling, and most inspiring part of our art is that there is a seemingly infinite depth to what we learn and how we apply it. Variations of variations now have variations and set ups to those variations now have variations of variations. If you ask 5 black belts how to arm bar someone from guard, you will get 6 different answers.

The trick here is to USE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! 

Apply what has been the most effective for you and make it your own. As a matter of fact, my arm-bar from guard is not what I’ve learned from my professors, but a variation of their teaching that was effective for me.

Final Thoughts

This is just some of my thoughts on how to make your Jiu-Jitsu more effective because it has worked for me. By eliminating all of the inefficient and ineffective parts of your arsenal, you will have more time to focus on what makes you a killer on the mats. It is good to know and try everything, but in order to excel and become a master at what makes you shine, you need to put in the work in those areas.

This does not have to be limited to “positions” or “submissions”, but rather, I would recommend more general areas like transitional points, guard passes or a submission that translates to all sorts of positions.

For further reading, please check out these links below. Also, please subscribe for updates via email! Thank you for your support and readership! 

The Biggest Advice I can give to BJJ beginners 

How to keep your Jiu-Jitsu brain fresh

Leave a Reply

Translate »

Are you interested in my personal training tips?

Stay connected with weekly training tips: Techniques I'm working on, concepts I'm learning and other Jiu-jitsu related musings.