What I call “Surface Dwellers” are those people who are hyper-focused on Submissions and over use their physical attributes (strength, speed, flexibility) in lieu of proper technique to achieve them. What I call “proper technique,” is a combination of correct mechanical movements and correct timing. The how and the when.
What I have found is that Surface Dwellers will minimally learn the mechanics (how), and almost always neglect timing (when). Physical attributes, like strength and flexibility, are then used as substitutes for this lack of timing. This forcing makes the technique choppy, ugly and inefficient. This is not at all proper Jiu Jitsu, even though it can resemble it.
Now what exactly is Timing? Timing as we have established is the when to use a move or technique. As I see it, timing then requires a certain combination of sensitivity and awareness. We are taught to identify Cues, some visual and some by feel. These are indicators of when a mechanical technique can be utilized. These Cues are the “green light” for a movement or technique. Cue awareness and recognition are usually gained through experience, or “mat time.” The more you train, the more you naturally gain this sensitivity and awareness.
However, this development can be hindered. How? By wanting. By childish insistence. By wanting instant gratification. By being way too fixated on Submissions. This willfulness causes blindness in regards to Cue Recognition. And, as we have discussed, without proper Cue Recognition there is no timing. And without timing, we force (ie, over use our physical attributes).
White Belts: You are naturally at the surface. You have yet to learn fundamental Jiu Jitsu mechanics and Cue Recognition. Thus, you will no doubt over use your physical attributes. This is normal. However, as you progress, you should, little by little, subsitute this with proper technique. With this progression in the art, you will see that achieving Submissions the right way is far easier (physically speaking) than forcing them. But in order to get Submissions the right way we may have to be patient and wait for it to present itself (Gifts not thefts, remember?). This is something Surface Dwellers are not good at. So, white belts, dive deep and work to leave the surface behind.
If you expect to go deep in the art I suggest you let go. If you are a Blue Belt (or above), stop clinging to the surface because of a fearful need to appear powerful (or at least not weak.) When we let go and drift downward into the unknown, we evolve.
To me, Jiu Jitsu is far more beautiful, sophisticated and effective when its is done is an equanimous manner. This only happens at the deeper levels. When timing, mechanical movements and awareness are smooth and in sync.
NOTE: You may substitute “Submissions” for “Sweeps” or “Guard Passes.” Although these are a more sophisticated form of Surface Dweller.