If you're unfamiliar with the Pareto Principle, perhaps you've known it by the 80/20 rule, The Law of the Vital Few, or the Factor of Sparsity?
If this is not the case, relax, it's not as daunting as it sounds and - if anything - will aid you in effectively prioritising your early learning in Jiu Jitsu. In essence, the Pareto Principle means that 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes.
Think of it like this in a BJJ context: for every sweep on the mat there are integral parts of a movement that make up the MOST of the outcome. So take a sweep, any sweep and find the absolutely crucial movements or steps and make a mental note just which parts are so crucial the technique would fail if that part was absent.
I love the basic, or scissor sweep, which for arguments sake we'll break down into 5 steps, conveniently meaning that 1 step is the 20% that makes the 80% of the effects .
So what is the most integral part of it that makes it successful?
1. Secure grips on lapel and sleeve.
2. Hip escape to create dominant angle.
3. Bring knee in across body of opponent.
4. Begin sweeping push/pull/scissor action.
5. Come into side control (preferably).
Now, which step (or 20%) is the most crucial to the point that the sweep would fail if it were not present?
Some people might be different, taking into account body size/skill level etc (I've had guys pretty much bench press me into a sweep) but for me the escape of the hips is undoubtedly the 20% that causes the 80% of the sweep.
I can say that I've never executed this sweep well without a decent angle of my hips in relation to my opponents. I can also say that I have swept opponents with the dominant angle with only grips, and with the dominant angle and only my scissored legs. The dominant angle in the sweep is the constant, and is the 20%.
Use this knowledge to build on the 20% and factor in the next most important step to take in finishing the technique. Sweeping was just an example, and if you have a decent comprehension of the rule you will be able to functionally extrapolate it to other situations and scenarios in which it will aid your understanding and development moving forward.
What's the 20% of the armbar from guard?
What's the 20% of a hip escape?
What's the 20% of the basic guard pass?
(Hint: it usually has something to do with hips, yours or opponents.....)
Find out and focus on getting to and perfecting this crucial movement, and then use this as a foundation for your mastery of that technique.
Blue belt is a belt that is, in my experience, turning the 20% into 30% and discovering that I have become fairly adept at sketching, whilst the awarded belt is a box of crayons to fill in the lines. Water colour, paints, sculpture and whatever other analogy you can dream of will come with higher belts, but for right now get your 20% on and continue to build.
- Jake Anderson