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Resolution and the business of jiu-jitsu

To carry the metaphor from my previous post a touch further, selling big, heavy monitors for years actually created an increased demand for flat panels. Companies got to sell you two monitors – a big one and then a couple of years later, a flat panel. If they’d sold you a flat panel monitor first, you’d never buy the bigger, heavier monitor.
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In the same way, increased resolution of martial arts techniques gives folks something to teach to prolong the teacher-student relationship and it creates a scan-time problem for the students, requiring additional teaching on strategy to be able to solve that scan time problem. Increased resolution is good business in more than one way.
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At what point (number of techniques) does high resolution balance with minimal scan time. Kano’s Kodokan syllabus is an interesting example of this. There are 40 fundamental throws, several more habukaretawaza (techniques preserved from older syllabi), about 20 more shinmeishonowaza (new techniques like the leg-picks) for a total of around 70 throws. So, Judo has pretty high resolution in standing clinch work, takedowns, and throws.
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But look at the Kodokan ground syllabus. There are only a handful of named techniques. The katamenokata contains five holds, five chokes, and five jointlocks for a total of fifteen named techniques and it doesn’t really leave too many of the named things in judo. So, judo groundwork really has relatively low resolution. If you look at BJJ or amateur wrestling, these have much, much, much higher technical resolution than judo. These guys named and studied a lot more of the motions that occur in ground fighting.
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Does this mean that BJJ has a “more highly developed ground game?” (BTW, I’ve heard that phrase from so many sources so many times lately that I’ve started wondering where it originated. Who was the first guy to characterize BJJ as a “more highly developed ground game” than judo?)
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I’m not sure if BJJ is more highly developed or just differently developed. Judo has been demonstrated over the course of more than 100 years to have sufficient resolution on the ground to handle a great variety of ground situations. Judo has had tremendous staying-power despite fairly low resolution on the ground. Take a hi-res BJJ guy and put him against a low-res judo guy in a tourney with judo rules and the outcome will be a toss-up. Match the same two in a JJ tourney where increased resolution (leglocks, points system, greater variety of submissions, etc…) plays a role and the hi-res guy might have an advantage but the advantage of resolution might be offset by the improved scan time of the low-res guy.
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Funny thing, Kano reduced the resolution of jiujitsu when he created judo, but the early judo guys did exceptionally well against jiujitsu guys in competitions using jiujitsu rules. I have heard, though, that the Kodokan guys got their clocks cleaned by one particular school of grapplers (Fusen, maybe?) prompting Kodokan to implement a more diverse ground syllabus.
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Does this mean that I think that judo guys can’t learn anything from rolling with BJJ guys or vice versa? NO. Absolutely not. I do, however, think that BJJ and judo are just different perspectives on the same thing. Playing with someone who approaches the problem differently than you do can be extremely educational. I sure wish I had a couple of good BJJ guys around me to roll with and to teach me a few things.

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