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Knowledge vs Skill

I want to touch upon something I wrote about yesterday. It was about having technique and the ability to perform it on demand. In simplier terms: knowledge and skill in jiu-jitsu.

Absolute knowledge in jiu-jitsu is showing up to class, watching lots of instructionals, learning tons of techniques by heart and drilling them but never sparring much. Basically being a walking jiu-jitsu encyclopedia.

Absolute skill in jiu-jitsu is the other side of the coin; sparring at every chance, focusing only on improving/heavily relying on strength and conditioning. Basically Big-Man jiu-jitsu.

This is an extreme example but one way of looking at this would be comparing an online-awarded Gracie Combatives blue belt to a competition gained BJJ blue belt. One side sees the benefit of knowledge (techniques that are “street” ready) as superior, while the other side sees skill (being able to perform in an “alive” setting like a tournament) as a clear advantage.

Let me make it clear, I have nothing against either side because I know exactly what each side is addressing. I’m a Relson Gracie blue belt and my current instructor, Tomari-sensei, gives promotions on a competition-you-enter-you-win basis. So, it concerns me when people are more than capable of sparring and choose not to, and it concerns me when someone is a terror on the ground but can’t even breakfall properly.

Other forms of this arguement show up as watered-down jiu-jitsu vs “real” jiu-jitsu, belt testing vs tournament wins, and gi vs no-gi.

The way I see it, there has to be an escalation of both aspects in order to be really, really good in jiu-jitsu.

You can’t be dependant on knowledge if you lack the strength and conditioning to apply it. And you shouldn’t be dependant on skill alone because it lulls you into a false sense of ability.

I write this because this is my current predicament. I’m in absolute knowledge. I’m not sparring, I’m untested. I have zero skill. I can mention with certainty that if I sparred against a white belt with even a couple of months of training under them, I’d lose.

It’s not that it bothers me. I’m fine with tapping out and all that good stuff. It’s more so to illustrate my point.

Balance between knowledge and skill is key.