Studying Chess to Improve Your Grappling?
Though at first glance chess and grappling may not appear all that similar they are both indeed a game of strategy and creativity. I found some very insightful thoughts on chess that I was able to relate to my grappling game by watching a chess video on YouTube.
I have no idea who the video’s creator is but he left me thinking about
several things that I can implement into my grappling game.
Here are the thoughts I took from it:
• Always look for the space left behind.
• In strange situations both players tend to miss things because they are playing types of positions
that they both unfamiliar with.
• You have to flow with the moment. Be open to every possibility. Don’t be flustered with the unknown. Move with the struggle. Enjoy the chaos. Trust yourself. You can figure everything out.
How can these be applied more specifically to grappling?
In grappling there is always a certain amount of space
necessary for every technique to be performed. This space always allows for new
opportunities to attack or defend. The better you are at controlling the space
the better your chances are of successfully attacking and defending. The best
attackers and defenders know exactly how to create openings for attack and how
to simultaneously shut down space to nullify attacks.
Where are the spaces that you are leaving behind? Where does your opponent
have an opportunity? Where is your opponent leaving you an opening? Is there an
easier submission available?
Start looking for that “space left behind” and you will see new
One of my core philosophies is: The faster you can
recognize positions the faster you can turn it into an opportunity to attack or
defend. So much of what we do absolutely depends on recognition of body
positioning, yet how often do you actually train that? How often has anyone even
talked about that? In my experience it has been minimal. Most coaches often
overlook this all important philosophy.
If you look at the best athletes they are masters of understanding where they
are at all times and the accompanying pitfalls and opportunities. This is why
you will see some athletes naturally gravitate toward a control game or wide
open game. There are few that can or prefer to do both. This is due in large
part because recognition is different for everyone. Some do it by feel, some do
it by sight, some do it by mental calculation. No matter how you do it
recognition has to become a large focal point of your game.
You can only flow in grappling once you have the ability to control
space and recognize positions and opportunities. Without those first two skills
trying to flow will often be like riding down the river on the way to a
waterfall. There are so many great grapplers out there who just like the chess
master can predict 3,4 and 5 moves ahead because they understand openings and
recognize positions so well. There is always a little ‘key’ that they find and
unlock your whole game. You can learn to do the same thing. All it takes is
time, patience, practice and a little creativity.
Every time I try to figure out a black belt’s guard game I
have to ask myself; “Where are my arms? Where is my base? Keep the pressure
here. Look for the opening at this point.” Etc. I have to trust that my
abilities to execute are as good or better than his in the areas in which I plan
to attempt my techniques.
It is very much a situation of knowing where you want to go and looking for
the best path to get there because there is no ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ path. It
comes down to trusting in your physical and mental abilities as an athlete. You
have to believe that you can solve the problem and unlock the riddle that your
For anyone interested in watching the actual original chess video and seeing
what you can glean for yourself here is the link.
ChessMaster GrandMaster Edition: Kogan A vs Waitzkin J
Until next time good luck and good training!