Grappling from a Western Perspective – Part IV (Mass)

The third Western principle of war is that of mass. The idea is that “overwhelming combat power” results from the concentration of all forces and effects at the decisive place and time. Through this principle a smaller, less trained opponent can defeat a larger, more technically skilled one by playing his strongest hand at just the right time.

In warfare the concentration of forces is what is known as a ‘force multiplier’. Consider how effective a wedge formation is a breaking a line even when the line is numerically superior. This is often used in American football when a small contingent of players surrounds the ball-carrier and forces their way into the end zone.

In grappling we want to force our strongest assets against the weakest part of their game. If you are fighting someone with an outstanding guard then focus your efforts on takedowns that place you outside the guard on landing. Pull guard on that person first and force them to fight from the top, massing your attack from the bottom position. If you have no knowledge of what the opponent does best then force your best game on them and dictate how the match will progress.

It is essential to be as well-rounded as possible. You should be comfortable on top, off your back, and from various positions of advantage and disadvantage. It is also essential to have an answer for larger opponents and smaller opponents – each provides unique challenges. However, our training time is limited and we cannot be all things equally well. It is better to work one style to perfection than to be simply mediocre at all things.

In order to win, our strengths must be massed against the opponent’s weaknesses. We must force him into playing our strongest game. A good guard passer needs a dominant takedown game and finishes from top. Guard specialists need to be able to force the opponent to fight from inside their guard where their submissions and sweeps are available.

Examples of this principle in action are the German Blitzkrieg attacks of World War II and the more recent US ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign of the Iraq War.

Brian Jones, PhD

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