Competition and The Phantom Menace

Posted by Micah Caputo on

Josh, a wrestling coach I used to train with, told me there were two competitive personalities to adopt in a tournament. He used an analogy to the lightsaber fight from The Phantom Menace to demonstrate. I can’t remember exactly how he put it so I will paraphrase. It starts with the scene with the energy fields. Every time the energy field comes up and blocks the fighters from each other is just like the beginning of a wrestling or jiu-jitsu match. The fighters have to wait for the field to come down in order to start fighting, just like waiting for the referee to say “Combate!” What they do while they wait tells us about the personality of the fighters and their strategy.

The first and best competitive personality is Darth Maul. When the energy field comes up he is pacing aggressively. He stalks and paces around glaring at his opponent. He is focused and ready to fight. He is prepared to go all out, no mercy. In wrestling the Darth Maul style grappler is always the first to step up to the line. He owns the mat. Coach Josh said this was the best personality to adopt. It allows a fighter to act first and get the upper hand on their opponent catching them unprepared. In a jiu-jitsu match this is key as the first person to get to their favorite position has a huge advantage for the rest of the match.

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However, sometimes the opponent is quicker or more aggressive than us. They out Darth Maul us. In this case Coach Josh recommends being more like Qui Gon Jin. When the fields come up Qui Gon is calm and meditative. He is patient, waiting for his opening. This is a good strategy to counter the overly aggressive Darth Maul style. The Qui Gon type fighter will be patient and try to tire Darth Maul forcing him to make mistakes and luring him into traps. When the Darth Maul style grappler steps up to the line and owns the mat the Qui Gon style grappler steps away adjusting his head gear or retying his belt. He breaths calmly and makes Darth Maul wait. As Darth Maul is kept waiting he becomes impatient and anxious, more likely to make mistakes.

After watching many jiu-jitsu matches, I noticed a third fighter personality. Rookie Obi-Wan is clearly inexperienced. This is his first time fighting a real sith. When the shields go up he is clearly nervous. He is not focused and ready like Darth Maul, nor is he calm and collected like Qui Gon. At first I thought this is just like a white belt. Then I realized some white belts with previous competitive experience are able to come in prepared, while even brown or black belts that come in nervous can look like Obi-Wan did. There is nothing inherent in the belt system that makes people into Obi-Wans, only the lack of experience. Don’t be Obi-Wan, be Darth Maul or Qui Gon Jin.

Now of course the actual fight takes a different turn. Qui Gon doesn’t outsmart Darth Maul with patience, and Obi-Wan’s nervousness doesn’t get him killed. Somehow, Obi-Wan is the only survivor. I don’t know what to say about that. I guess George Lucas doesn’t always get it right.


Hi my name is Micah. I have been doing Jiu-Jitsu since 2007, first in Colorado and now in Portland. My favorite thing about Jiu-Jitsu is that it isn't easy. Come roll with me sometime.

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