Mental Model Database

Not sure where to start? 🤔
We put together a crash course for first-timers! We’ll email it to you for free.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Learning Models

Learning models are about hacking your mind. These mental models help you get the most out of your training, learn faster and more consistently, overcome mental roadblocks, identify weaknesses in your game, and develop a champion’s mindset.

  • 80/20 Rule
    80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.

  • Abundance Mindset
    Learn to be happy for other people. Their gain does not necessarily mean your loss.

  • Beginner’s Mind
    Approach every learning opportunity as if you are a total beginner.

  • Cognitive Load
    Your brain struggles to learn when it runs out of working memory.

  • Consistency
    Take a step every day to improve your Jiu-Jitsu, even if that step is small.

  • Defensive Thinking
    Focus on succeeding rather than avoiding failure.

  • First Principles
    Break down complex ideas into fundamental concepts that stand alone, then build them back up again.

  • Flow
    Create triggers and routines to help you get into “the zone.”

  • Form to Leave Form
    Drill techniques until they move from your conscious mind to your muscle memory.

  • Growth From Discomfort
    Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

  • Growth Mindset
    Don’t think of attributes like talent and athleticism as unchangeable.

  • Habits Over Results
    The best way to achieve long-term results is to build and maintain short-term habits.

  • Incremental Learning
    You won’t fully learn a technique in one attempt.  Revisit a technique over time to add in the details you weren’t ready for earlier.

  • Interleaving
    Study related skills or concepts in parallel.

  • Investing in Loss
    If you want to get good at something, you need to spend a lot of time being bad at it. View loss as an investment, rather than something to avoid.

  • Kaizen
    Kaizen is the Japanese concept of continuous improvement.

  • Learning Styles
    Know which learning style works best for you, and utilize multiple learning styles for best results.

  • Loss Aversion
    We feel losses as more painful than equivalent gains, so we tend to avoid situations where losses could occur.

  • Making Smaller Circles
    Master the core fundamentals of a technique before you branch off into the details. Focus on depth before breadth.

  • Meditative Drilling
    Meditative drilling transfers new techniques into muscle memory, even when you aren’t on the mats.

  • Mindfulness
    Train your attention on the present moment. Observe your mind and body as if from a distance.

  • Mnemonics
    Use memory shortcuts, known as mnemonics, to remember complex concepts.

  • Naming Concepts
    Assigning names to complex concepts makes them more memorable.

  • Plus, Minus, Equals
    Train with people better than you, worse than you, and equal to you.

  • Principles Over Techniques
    Memorize the principles behind techniques, rather than obsessing over step-by-step details.

  • Resulting Fallacy
    The quality of your decisions and the quality of your results are not always related.

  • Scientific Method
    Make your decisions objectively, and actively try to break your own ideas.

  • Self-Competition
    The only person you need to compare yourself against is the person you were yesterday.

  • Spaced Repetition
    Spaced repetition is a technique that greatly improves your memory.

  • Systematic Abandonment
    What got you here won’t get you there.

  • Train With Purpose
    Define goals for every training opportunity and plans for achieving them.

  • Training Handicaps
    Train without using your strengths to improve your weaknesses.

  • Transfer of Learning
    You can get better at something by learning seemingly unrelated disciplines.

Mechanical Models

Mechanical models are about hacking your body. These mental models help you use physics and human biomechanics to control your own body and manipulate your opponent’s body with maximal force and efficiency.

  • 3 Joint Rule
    Limb control requires you to dominate 2/3 of the joints; submissions require 3/3.

  • Anatomic Hierarchy
    The human body has six weapons, and the core is the strongest.

  • Body Tethering
    Be wary of any technique requiring you to tether your body to your opponent’s core.

  • Breaking Mechanics
    Breaking mechanics describe the process of breaking a lever or joint.

  • Center of Gravity
    It’s easier to sweep your opponent in the direction where they’re already leaning.

  • Choking Mechanics
    There are three types of chokes: air chokes, blood chokes, and cranks.

  • Controlled Breathing
    Be mindful of your breathing at all times.  Maintain a deliberate, relaxed cadence of breath.

  • Core Mechanics
    All techniques in Jiu-Jitsu are combinations of frames, levers, wedges, clamps, hooks, and posts.

  • Critical Control Points
    For every technique, there are only a handful of control points that really matter.

  • Direct vs. Proxy Control
    Control can be either direct (eg. a limb) or proxy (eg. the gi).

  • Elbow-Knee Connection
    Keep your elbows close to your knees.

  • Force Compression
    Apply force in rapid, intense bursts.

  • Force Vectors
    Identify the exact angle of incoming force, and meet it or redirect it.

  • Head Position
    Proper positioning of your head controls the distance, improves posture, and minimizes attack vectors.

  • Inside Channel Control
    Control the “inside channel,” or the space between your opponent’s arms and legs.

  • Kinetic Chains
    Joints affect each other when in motion, and creating “closed circuits” with your limbs makes them stronger.

  • Leading Edges
    Focus your defense where your opponent is generating the most force.

  • Limb Coiling
    Keep your limbs coiled close to your core, ready to strike.

  • Mirrored Stances
    Only square your stance if your opponent squares their stance as well.

  • Overwhelming Force
    Use overwhelming force when attacking a limb or joint.  The limbs you’re attacking with should be stronger than the limb being attacked.

  • Ratchet Control
    Add rotation when controlling a limb to increase effectiveness.

  • Seated vs. Supine Guards
    Guards can be either supine (on your back) or seated.

  • Single vs. Double Lever Control
    Attacking a single lever affords more damage, whereas attacking two levers affords more control.

  • Solid Frames
    The strongest frames use bone structure and contain few joints that can be collapsed.

  • Staying Loose
    Keep your muscles relaxed, and only tense them to finish an already successful attack.

  • Stress and Recovery
    Alternate between periods of stress and recovery for maximal growth.

  • Surface Area
    Apply force using the smallest possible surface area of your body.

  • Theory of Alignment
    Jiu-Jitsu is a game of preserving your posture, structure, and base, while attempting to break your opponent’s.

  • Types of Guard
    All guards can be classified as hook-based, clamp-based, frame-based, or hybrid.

Social Models

Social models are about hacking your environment. These mental models help you improve relationships with our training partners and build effective teams.


Strategic Models

Strategic models are about hacking your decision-making. These models help you make quicker decisions in battle, set the table to make victory more likely, and find and exploit weaknesses in your opponent’s game.

  • Alignment Over Position
    Managing alignment is more important than managing position.

  • Asymmetric Warfare
    Prefer strategies that attack your opponent where they are weakest.

  • Committed Techniques
    When you have multiple options available, favor techniques with a higher chance of retaining position.

  • Controlling the Distance
    Take away space when attacking and create space when defending.

  • Crossing the Center
    The body is vulnerable when limbs are passed across the center line.

  • Defend With Purpose
    A defense is only a good defense if it gets you out of the bad position.

  • Dictate the Pace
    Be active, not reactive.

  • Dilemma
    Force your opponent to choose between two equally bad options.

  • Do What Works
    If a technique is working for you, it’s a good technique regardless of what anyone says.

  • Dominant Angles
    Create positions where your opponent is not fully facing you, and exploit those angles.

  • Double Trouble
    To fully control a near side limb, you must also control a far side limb.

  • Economy of Motion
    Favor techniques that require minimal movement and energy.

  • Funneling
    Take away options until your opponent is forced to fight you where you’re strongest.

  • Grip Inversion
    The instant your opponent grips you, find a way to invert the grip so you control your opponent.

  • Grips Dictate Position
    Whoever controls the grips controls the position.

  • Inversion
    Find creative solutions by attacking problems backward.

  • Kuzushi
    Break your opponent’s balance before attempting a throw or sweep.

  • Layers of Guard
    Like an onion, the guard has many layers. You pass by peeling the layers back one by one.

  • Mask Your Intentions
    Mask your intentions so your opponent doesn’t know what you’re really attacking.

  • Microtransitions
    Single techniques rarely work. Success comes from exploiting windows between techniques.

  • Minimize Attack Vectors
    Position your body to reduce the places your opponent can attack you.

  • Myopia
    Don’t get so caught up in what you want that you ignore better opportunities.

  • Path of Least Resistance
    Go around obstacles rather than through them.

  • Phases of Guard
    Guard has three distinct phases: engagement, maintenance, and retention. Know the right strategy for each.

  • Placeholders
    Don’t abandon one point of control until you’ve replaced it with another.

  • Position Over Submission
    Prefer positional advancement and security over submission attempts. Do not attempt submissions unless you are fully secure in your position.

  • Predictable Responses
    Each technique has a series of common and predictable reactions.

  • Prevention Over Cure
    Preventing a problem is better than fixing it after the fact.

  • Prioritize Longevity
    Be wary of techniques and scenarios that have a high chance of self-injury.

  • Return on Investment
    Calculate the risk and possible reward before taking any action.

  • Shifting Platforms
    Continuously move and switch angles to prevent your opponent from applying pressure against you.

  • Technique Chaining
    A non-stop series of attacks works a lot better than a single attack.

  • Tipping Points
    Once you have sufficient leverage or momentum, your desired outcome can no longer be denied.

  • Win Conditions
    By knowing and exploiting the rules, you can defeat an otherwise superior opponent who doesn’t.