Max E / Min E

seiryoku zenyo

I’m reminded each time I roll with a new white belt of one of jiu-jitsu (and judo’s) founding principles: maximum efficiency, minimum effort. (Seiryoku zen’yō in Japanese.) I rolled with a new guy and – as it nearly always happened – he gassed out.  In trying to convey the Max E/Min E principle, I’ve often heard others and myself say to the new person: relax, take your time, breathe, flow, go easy, or some variation of these.  How do others convey this message?  Can a newbie understand the principle with little techniques that are the application of the principles?  Theoretical, yes, one can understand Max E/Min E, but as it applies to the actual practice in BJJ, it might not be as intuitive, especially because the other person is trying to tap the newbie out.

I try to say something of the effect, “know when you are safe. There you can relax.”  The point, though, is they don’t know when they are or aren’t.  We can remind them of unsafe positions (arms out, being mounted, head leaning in, et al) but if they are new, they don’t quite understand this is unsafe until someone taps them out, and probably repeatedly, to drive the point home.

Is the principle maximum efficiency, minimum effort a thing one only learns concurrently with physical practice?  How do other schools convey this principle to new folks?  And, to ponder for the future, how does that principle work with perhaps the most common principle in all sports: give it all you got! or give it 100% or always hustle.  Max E/Min E seems to be in contradiction with the all you got one. Or is it?

One response to “Max E / Min E

  1. Great topic, and one that is so often brought up with too much lip service I think. As in, “leave the ego at the door”. It’s almost become cliched. Most schools and instructors I know (that even have the conversation) TELL the student to do all the above, but how many SHOW them how?… or better yet, TEACH them how? Just like, “leave the ego at the door”, who has ever taught you HOW?

    …keep up the writing. Good stuff.

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