The 5 Questions

With more than ninety years of experience instructing Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to a wide variety of students, the Gracie family has addressed nearly every question and situation that may arise in conjunction with the practice of this martial art, and what they have found is that five questions have been asked more than all the others. Furthermore, they found that the five most common questions can usually be answered by applying a set of established problem-solving principles.

If you have a question about a technique, first review the entire lesson to ensure you did not miss something as there are many details in each segment. Next, determine if your problem falls under one of the five most frequently asked questions, and apply the problem-solving principles to find your answer.

If you’re still having trouble, submit your question by filling out the form on our Contact Page so we can help you find the answer.

Problem Solving Principle: Apply the four reasons that account for most student’s inability to execute a technique.

The most common reason for difficulty with a technique is that you simply overlooked an essential detail. Watch the lesson one or two more times to ensure that you have learned every detail.

We designed the Gracie Combatives techniques to neutralize or counter the most likely attacks that would occur in a real fight. For this reason, it is very important that the “bad guy” realistically simulates the attacker behavior or else the technique may not work. Review the “Bad Guy Reminders” that are discussed in the presentation.

Timing is everything. If you feel that you are performing all the steps correctly but the technique is still not working, there is a good chance that your timing is off. Review the lesson for hints on how you can use better timing to increase your effectiveness.

Although the techniques have been proven effective for people of all demographics, it is possible that an extreme physical limitation prevents you from successfully applying a technique. However, it is very important that you verify that the problem is not due to reasons 1-3, before concluding that you cannot physically execute the technique. If a physical limitation is the problem, we recommend you use your understanding of the Gracie Guidelines to modify the technique to accommodate your body or consider using another technique from the curriculum to solve the problem.

Problem Solving Principle: The objective of the Gracie Combatives course is to prepare you to defend against the most common attacks that a larger, unskilled opponent would use in a real fight. If during the practice of a technique your partner varies the attack behavior from that covered in the instruction, then consider the following:

Remember that the Gracie Combatives techniques address the most natural and, therefore, most common bad guy behaviors. Your training partner’s role is to consistently simulate the most common behavior so that you can perfect the techniques as you are most likely to apply them in a street fight. A poor training partner will constantly change behavior in order to defeat the techniques. This will prevent you from learning the techniques properly and may even promote development of bad habits. We will address all the “what if” scenarios later in your training, during the MasterCycle.

When practicing, always execute the techniques so slowly that it is impossible to make a mistake. The slow pace and predictability of proper training will provide your partner with many opportunities to counter the technique. Again, your training partner’s role is to consistently simulate the most common behavior so that you can perfect the techniques – not to fight with you. Eventually, your diligent and exacting practice will produce precise, efficient, and quick reflexes that will leave your attacker with no opportunity to counter your techniques. In a real fight, you will also have the advantage of surprise since your attacker will have no advanced knowledge of how you react to his actions.

If the modified bad guy behavior is legitimate, you can either wait to learn the solution to the problem in a future lesson, or you can use the Gracie Guidelines to develop your own temporary solution. Above all, remember that you must perfect the 36 Gracie Combatives techniques as we present them in the course. Any time you spend on modifications based on less likely bad guy behaviors will slow your progress toward blue belt and delay your access to the remaining 600+techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Problem Solving Principle: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling art that puts you within very close range of your opponent. As a result, you must be constantly aware of your opponent’s ability to punch you. Here are some facts you must consider regarding punches:

In a fight, the question is not whether you will get punched, but whether or not the punch will hurt you. We score a punch’s effectiveness from 1-10 on the hypothetical “Punch Power Scale” with “1” being a weak punch and “10” representing a potential knockout blow. The objective of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu techniques is to completely avoid all punches that score 5 or above and minimize the rest.

In order for a punch to land effectively, your opponent must establish the proper distance and angle. Accordingly, your ability to neutralize punches is almost entirely based on how effectively you control the distance and angles between your face and your opponent’s fists. Any time you are within two arms reach of your opponent, you are liable to get hit. The key is to remain calm and understand that you can neutralize any punch by positioning yourself either inside or outside the optimal punching range. When you are inside optimal punching range, your opponent will be able to touch your head but will not be able to hit hard enough to hurt you.

It takes a lot of energy to punch. Whenever your opponent is throwing punches that score 4 or below, you may take solace in knowing that the punches are probably more exhausting to them than they are damaging to you and that you will soon have the opportunity to take advantage of your opponent’s weakened state.

Problem Solving Principle: Although street fights have no rules, we have found that larger and stronger opponents prefer to punch the face rather than attack the eyes and/or groin. However, in order to defend against dirty fighting techniques you must adopt the following priorities:

Since punches are the most common form of attack and the most immediate threat at any given time, stopping them must be your first priority. Shift your priority to defend against other types of attacks only if your opponent clearly resorts to a dirty fighting technique (eye gouge, groin shot, biting, etc.). Even when defending against other attacks, never forget to block the punches.

You will have truly mastered the techniques when you can apply them without conscious thought. Once you reach this level you will remain calm and easily read your opponent’s behavior in the midst of a fight leading to quick neutralization of any type of attacks before they happen. Your controlling techniques and calm mind are your most reliable defense mechanisms.

Problem Solving Principle: We have proven the effectiveness of every technique against larger opponents. Here are some facts regarding the use of the techniques against much larger adversaries:

Learning a technique is a relatively simple process that can be accomplished in one lesson. However, perfecting the technique takes months if not years. We have found that your ability to handle larger opponents increases as you improve your mastery of the technique. As your proficiency increases, practice against progressively larger partners until you find your limit – if you have one.

Most Gracie Jiu-Jitsu techniques will work against an opponent of any size when executed with perfect timing and accuracy. While you can’t control the size of your attacker, you can control the amount of time and energy you dedicate to perfecting the techniques. Your ability to successfully apply your techniques against a giant is directly related your mastery of the skills.