Probabilistic Thinking

Create scenarios where success is a high probability.

Not all successes are created equal. Some come easier than others. But there’s no benefit to hard-fought success if an easier win was possible.

It’s common for newer grapplers to get “addicted to the tap” and seek a submission at all costs. But this can lead to myopic strategies, where quality positions are abandoned in favor of low-probability submissions. On the podcast, we’ve referred to this error as “diving for submissions.” If you’ve ever abandoned full mount for a low-quality armbar that your opponent escaped, you’ve probably made this mistake before. There’s a reason that instructors all over the world will tell you to prioritize position over submission.

As you progress deeper into Jiu-Jitsu, you’ll start to understand the volatility involved in combat sports. There are a lot of ways to lose. Because competitive endeavors are unpredictable, the best thing you can do is create scenarios where victory is highly probable.

What does this mean in practice? Maintain and advance positional control. Break your opponent’s alignment. Increase your probability of victory. And don’t abandon successful positions to try a low-probability submission.

Dichotomous thinking

Dichotomous thinking is what happens when you think entirely in terms of yes and no, or black and white. It’s an extremely oversimplified view of how the world works, but unfortunately it’s a common logical fallacy we all fall for.

Good strategists know that few problems are black and white. Acknowledging the shades of grey, and thinking in terms of probabilities, is a great way to combat the logical fallacy of dichotomous thinking, and ultimately make better decisions.

On the podcast:

Further study: