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Drumming is Like Jiu Jitsu

Updated: Oct 25, 2018

The best Jiu Jitsu practitioners in the world spend countless hours focusing solely on transitions. This means that when they are competing, they don’t focus on just one move and hope that is what submits their opponent. The elite are constantly transitioning into different maneuvers and variations until their opponent makes a mistake and is submitted. This is a great analogy for advanced drumming and can help you better understand shift changes from our What are Shift Changes blog. Beginner marching percussionists focus on learning basic rudiments/rhythms and fundamental technique. Intermediate level players have a good grasp of the basics and understand the demands of more difficult rudiments/rhythms with a good understanding of their hands. Advanced players have a full vocabulary of rudiments, big sound and understand shift changes. Elite players, like the top Jiu Jitsu practitioners, have all the same skill sets as the advanced player, except they have fully mastered the transitions and shift changes within all levels of music. In my experience as both a top world class performer and instructor, I believe the individuals who are the best in the world have MASTERED shifting between any rudimental and rhythmic combination with ease. They are constantly challenging unlikely combinations with developed consistency to play it near perfect each repetition. When they show up to the most difficult auditions, a “bad” audition for them is still stronger than their peers because their understanding of shift change within their hands is at a higher level than their competition. Not only can they perform a proficient Rule of 16 on any rudiment, but they can combine Rule of 16’s with seamless transition. A big issue I see today in modern rudimental percussion playing is students letting themselves peak. They master flam drags at 150 BPM and they never push beyond. What about all the flam drag variations? Or tempo and rhythmic variations? After mastering the rudimental isolated, how well can the player transition between these flam drag variations into an inverted or dead wood rudiment? The list is endless just like transitioning in Jiu Jitsu between submissions on an opponent. To be a master, you must put in thousands of hours of rehearsal and master all scenarios.


Author: Matt Regua

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