In it the guy catches a very slick collar choke variation off of a scramble. He posted it over at JiuJitsuForums in this thread and we had a discussion about what it was called, and exactly how it was executed. This lead me to thinking about innovation, especially at the lower belts, and jiujitsu.
One of our white belts who has been training for a long time did something that as far as I can tell is completely unique to him. He made up the technique. I've never seen anyone else do it, or even indicated it might be possible. He hit an ezekiel choke on a guy that HAD HIS BACK. In the process he discovered a really solid way to block attacks from the back while threatening his opponent with a choke. Is this a brand new move? Who knows, but it's definitely new to our gym. More importantly, should he, as a white belt, be trying to make up new stuff on the fly instead of working on his established defenses? I don't have an answer to that and that isn't what this post is about.
This is about the creative process of JiuJitsu and how it forces innovation, as well as how that innovation is embrace by the community. Some blackbelts have been extremely innovative and everyone knows about it. Marcelo Garcia's X-Guard is widely studied and used, Eddie Bravo's Rubber Guard system is something that almost every white belt has dabbled with, Spider Guard, De La Riva guard, etc... are all relatively recent innovations as well, and Upside Down/Inverted/Tornado guard has been exploding across the BJJ world for the last few years.
This post is about where this stuff comes from. Again this is not about the specifics of how Marcelo developed the X-Guard, but you can read about that in his book if you're interested, this is about how innovation in general occurs.
Ok, so enough teasers. Innovation in BJJ happens when someone hits an obstacle that they can't overcome with traditional methods. BJJ itself is a testament to this process as Helio developed it largely because he wasn't able to use the traditional Judo style effectively because of his particular body type. When the white belt from our gym kept getting his back taken and getting stuck he was getting outmuscled by guys when he tried to escape, so his solution was to try to use something he's already really good at (His Ezekiel choke is pimp) to solve a problem he was having somewhere else.
My game has partially shaped itself around issues like that because I'm small, weak, and lazy. Sweeps not working on bigger guys? Well, what if I collar choke them at the same time? Oh hey! That works! And not only does it work, but I can't find video or reference to it anywhere. Did I just invent something? Nope. Someone, somewhere, is using exactly the same stuff I'm using. Doesn't matter though. I discovered it within the context of my jiujitsu so for all practical purposes I "invented" it.
This will happen more and more as your game develops because your instructor can only teach you so much and most of it will be out of solid, universal, fundamentally successful techniques. Much of what you discover or invent will be techniques that fit uniquely into your attributes or your game. Your instructor will have some of these things which he may or may not teach because they may or may not be universally applicable, but rest assured he does HAVE them. Everyone past blue belt will have at least 2-3 techniques that they "invented" that work well for them, but may not work well for anyone else.
Frankly I approve of this process. The sport develops because people try new things. Most of the new things you try will fail, but some will work, and some will work incredibly well. Don't listen to anyone that tells you everything in BJJ has been discovered already. That MIGHT be true, but one guy, in one gym, in Brazil using something doesn't do you any good if you don't know about it. That means we should all be trying to innovate, all the time. Don't try to innovate to the exclusion of your fundamentals, but don't be afraid to set some time aside every week to explore your jiujitsu.
I guarantee that all of the guys who have pushed the sport forward started exploring with their Jiujitsu WELL BEFORE they got their blackbelts.