I've heard it said in many ways by many top level guys but with the exception of perhaps Kron Gracie, they all say something like the guy who gets to where he wants to be first usually wins. I reference Kron here because he is statistically an exception in that he has won many times despite not being the first to score. I would hazard a guess that when you grow up on the mats with Rickson and his black belts...well, you too can be the exception.
At any rate, failing to prepare is preparing to fail and if my gameplan is to be on top and pass, my training has to reflect that. Friend of mine and now Zenith
Black belt Cody Maltais recently blogged briefly about market inefficiency and utilizing for example foot locks because so many competitors frown on them/the disdain for them in more traditional jiu-jitsu school.
Thus, in a division like mine (featherweight) where the majority pull guard, the exception is the guard passer. I recall an Instagram post where Gui Mendes paraphrased this, and said something like early on his coach told him that in a division of guard players, his pressure and passing would carry him through. This is big generalization, I'm aware, but you get my drift. Leandro Lo's passing game, Rodolfo Vieira's takedowns and passing, Lucas Lepri's pressure passing and takedowns et cetera. It's akin to basketball teams that play the full court press and don't honor the gentleman's agreement to play a low defense/high offense style of play on basketball (thanks Malcolm Gladwell).
At any rate, with changes in direction, there will be kinks to work out. I have to spend time potentially losing matches and getting swept/submitted while competing and training to develop this game and it's precision under pressure. I see Purple belt and Brown belt as the minor league to prepare for a game I want well on its way to being developed by the time I approach black belt. I see the Miyaos and Gianni Grippo having to work those parts of their game now (passing, top position) in competition and at smaller tournaments (not the Worlds or Pans et cetera) in an effort to play catch-up in that area of their game. I'm generalizing but their tournament game against Rafa and Malfacine last year failed in that they're route to the back against such experience guys wasn't bolstered by other facets of their game which could threaten. I'm over generalizing here but as close as they came, it's a matter of IF a Miyao gets to your back it's over; however, if they don't, against the very top % they don't have another bullet in the gun.
If your opponent simply knows you will pull guard in order to sweep/submit you are more predictable than if you can fight for the takedown and pass or get to your feet during the match and restart in a sense. It's the ability to add another dimension to your game of which he/she has to be aware/consider. It's also more tiring to not only attempt to pass, not get submitted, and keep him/her from getting back to his feet than simply trying to pass while defending sweeps and submissions.
Bernardo Faria has some interviews where he discuss his blue belt half-guard game and the 10,000 hour rule of mastery. His game only works at
Black belt because he's been sharpening that sword since blue belt. Now in the last year or two he's tweaked it and added that kneebar from top half-guard-passing and some other fine details (I suspect from his training with Marcelo in NYC. But overall his game has its home base on a position he started as blue belt. I'm rambling, weigh-ins are later tonight, if you're in the area tomorrow come by Dorton Arena in Raleigh and watch, say hey, support NC grappling and the very cool folks that run US Grappling.