Efficiency is Intentional Nonresistance

Force against resistance begets more resistance.

While the goal of grappling, whether manifested as a throw, a pin, or a submission, is ultimately to impose our will on another person, this is much more easily accomplished if we can create circumstances within which our opponent actually gives us we want, instead of having to take it by force. In this way, he or she is actually helping us achieve our goal without even necessarily knowing it. The ability be victorious, however we define that, within conflict, without actually ‘fighting,’ is one of the unique qualities of jujutsu (the literal romanization of the Japanese 柔術) aka jiu-jitsu.

Obviously, within all grappling, there is resistance. However, the highest aim of the jujutsu practitioner should not be to face this resistance head on and to overcome resistance with a greater amount of directly opposing force. There is no efficiency in this approach and, as much as grappling is about imposing our will on another human, it is also about doing so efficiently, and the most efficient means by which to accomplish our goal is with our opponent’s consent and assistance, not in direct opposition to it.

As has been written elsewhere, our approach must be sincere and skillful if it is to be effective. For it to be efficient, however, our efforts toward our goal must be combined with, not in direct opposition to, our opponent’s efforts to stop us. This means, paradoxically, that, so long as we maintain our own safety and integrity, instead of trying to stop our opponent from acting against us, we must allow him or her just enough freedom to move unopposed in a direction that is both predictable and will ultimately lead him or her into a position wherein we are victorious, all without having to cause injury unnecessarily.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Street art photo taken by Robert Van Valkenburgh, artist unknown unless otherwise noted.

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