Inversion

Find creative solutions by attacking problems backward.

As the great mathematician Carl Jacobi said, “invert, always invert.” In the context of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu we often think of inversion as upside-down breakdance fighting, but that’s just one application of a very powerful mental model.

Inversion basically means thinking backward. Use logic in the reverse direction. This forces you to truly understand the problem and evaluate it from new angles. We’re all told to “think outside of the box,” which is not particularly helpful instruction. “Think inverted” is a far more helpful way to encourage creative thinking.

Inversion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:

In Jiu-Jitsu, inversion usually refers to spinning upside down. Inversion can be used as both an offensive strategy from top position and a defensive strategy from the bottom.

Below are some examples of inversion in Jiu-Jitsu.

Granby rolls to counter a guard pass.
Instead of attempting to block the incoming force as you normally would during a guard pass attempt, you’re inverting your body so your oppponent’s force vector is not moving in a meaningful direction.

Crab rides and berimbolos to bypass the guard.
Instead of trying to pass your opponent’s guard, you are essentially bypassing the guard by going around it. You’re not trying to get past your opponent’s legs as with a traditional pass, but rather you are changing your body’s entire position to go straight to your opponent’s back.

Inversion in real life:

Inversion is a tremendously powerful mental model for seeing problems in a new light. It’s a great thing to try when you feel like you’re stuck and your regular methods aren’t working.

Inverted planning.
Instead of asking, “what are the steps I need to take to achieve my goal?” ask yourself, “what is my goal and what are the preconditions necessary to achieve it?”

Pre-mortems.
Unlike a post-mortem, a pre-mortem is done before the project. A pre-mortem involves envisioning a situation where you fail to achieve your goal, identifying what must have happened to cause your failure, and avoiding those things.

Some companies conduct “kill the company” exercises, where they imagine a competitor that puts them out of business, and identify the traits that this imaginary company must have.

Inverted debating.
When someone strongly disagrees with you and you’re at an impasse, ask them, “what would it take to convince you of my argument?”

Further study: