Developing “Tokui waza” in your Jiu jitsu training

What is a tokui waza? Tokui waza is a Japanese word/phrase meaning “best technique”. Tokui waza is a phrase traditionally used in the art of judo, by judoka to name their best or most high percentage throw or technique. It is their trump card, what they use when they are in trouble or to defeat a tough and skilled opponent. It is a technique that they have spent considerable time mastering and one which generally fits their body structure and athleticism most perfectly.

However I look at tokui waza a little differently. I look at the example set by the founder of Gracie Jiu jitsu, Helio Gracie as a better guide. Helio Gracie spent many years studying traditional Jiu jitsu which is said to have tens of thousands of  techniques for various situations. Helio spent years sifting through the assortment of techniques, modifying them by improving leverage points and ruthlessly eliminating any techniques which did not work for his body type (small, frail and physically weak). After years of trial and error he developed a small system of less than 100 techniques which when practised and mastered could be made to work in any situation against any opponent. The end product was so refined that Helio could teach someone his entire system in approximately 40 lessons! Now that to me is an example of one of the most finely crafted tokui waza ever created! Every technique was mastered by him and could be applied by anyone in multiple high pressure situations!

I look at applying the concept of tokui waza somewhere in the middle. That is not just one favourite or special technique but not 20+ either. I have found through my years of training that although you should never just rely on one single technique, that it is extremely beneficial to develop one “Go to” technique from everywhere. For example, I believe all students, instructors and fighters should work on developing one extremely strong “Go to” submission from all the major positions (Mount, Back, Side Control, Knee Ride, Closed Guard, Seated/Butterfly Guard, Half Guard, Open Guard etc). It also makes sense that you develop one “Go to” escape from all the major positions, one “Go to” pass for all the major guard types, one “Go to” Sweep from all the major guard types as well as one “Go to” transition from all major positions if you feel you are losing the position!

Now I realise that this could take quite some time, but if you put in the time and really work on these tokui waza techniques, I guarantee your journey through the art will be that much smoother and your understanding and progress will be much much faster! Think about it, it seems pretty obvious but so many of us get caught up in trying to learn more techniques thinking they will be the answer to all our problems! When in reality, all you really need is a plan and these tokui waza should form the base of that plan. Remember “No one ever plans to fail, we just fail to plan”, so lets not be ordinary, lets make our skills progress extraordinary!

Good luck with your training and Happy rolling!


Jiu jitsu Kingdom


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5 Responses to “Developing “Tokui waza” in your Jiu jitsu training”

  1. Prevost Says:

    This is an interesting idea Felipe. I hadn’t really thought about the “go to” technique as a ju jitsu practice. I see it all the time in the gym though. There are guys who intuitively specialize in certain techniques.

  2. jiujitsukingdom Says:

    Hi Cane, how are you mate? Looking back about ten years, I must admit that I was taught this concept right from the start and it really helped me to quickly develop into a solid blue belt. But as with a lot of good things in life you tend to forget about them and I have only began revisiting this concept since September 2008 when I had the privelidge of spending a week training with Marcelo Garcia!
    And now just over a year later my game has improved 100%! As I have seen the rewards of being diligent with my tokui waza I have really sarted to emphasize this with my students and they are strating to get really good really quickly!!! I mean its not like before where a couple of guys excelled in a certain few techniques and wrecked shop with the rest of the students, now even the beginners are really starting to understand and are rapidly developing the ability to fight or use them under pressure during competitive rolling! Try it for a month or two and let me know how it works for you! 🙂
    Kind Regards

  3. Sandra Neumann Says:

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

    • jiujitsukingdom Says:

      Thanks Sandra, I’m glad you liked it! Hope you keep reading and enjoy the blog!
      Kind Regards

  4. Pointer Men's Basketball Says:

    Maybe you should make changes to the blog title Developing “Tokui waza” in your Jiu jitsu training Jiujitsukingdom's Blog to more better for your subject you write. I enjoyed the blog post nevertheless.

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