Your legs versus his head

Your legs vs his head: One of the basic features of Jiu jitsu is the notion of controlling greater strength and aggression with lesser strength and aggression via mechanical and tactical advantage. One of the surest ways to do this is to use the strongest parts of the human body (legs and hips) against the weaker parts (head and shoulders for example). Two excellent examples of this would be the triangle and juji gatame arm bar - both of which directly match your legs against an opponents head and arm. Whenever possible look for this kind of match up in your favor. IF YOU ARE TO DEFEAT BIGGER AND STRONGER OPPONENTS THEN YOU MUST SEEK TO FIGHT YOUR OPPONENTS UPPER BODY WITH YOUR LOWER BODY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. If you make it a battle of your upper body against a similarly skilled and bigger opponents upper body it is unlikely you will win. MAKE IT A FIGHT BETWEEN YOUR LOWER BODY AND HIS UPPER BODY AND VICTORY WILL FIND A PATH TO YOUR DOOR OFTEN.

When you have no control time is your enemy, but...

The more dominant your grips and position - the more you take your time when moving: Sometimes Jiu jitsu rewards us for moving quickly - usually when we don’t have any form of advantage over our opponent. In these cases an advantage in speed may be the only advantage you have and if you can get to the next position ahead of your opponent you can profit. Sometimes Jiu jitsu rewards use for being slow. This is usually when you have a dominant grip and (usually top) position. In these cases time is your friend. Time spent in these positions is tiring and frustrating for an opponent. As he works harder and harder to get out, the more risks he will have to take to escape and the more likely he will leave a limb behind to be taken. So next time you take a dominating position/grip - take your time! Don’t be in such a rush for your next move. Remember that WHEN YOU HAVE NO CONTROL TIME IS YOUR ENEMY - BUT WHEN YOU HAVE CONTROL - TIME IS YOUR FRIEND

The interplay of push and pull

The interplay of push and pull: When playing bottom position in JiuJitsu there is a continual battle for DISTANCE CONTROL that leads to a never ending interplay between PUSHING and PULLING. From guard we always seek an optimum distance that keeps an opponent at a range that gives us SUFFICIENT ROOM TO ATTACK (space creation) and yet at the same time SUFFICIENT PROXIMITY TO ATTACK (space restriction). In short, if the opponent is too close you won’t have room to move into your attacks. If he is too far away you won’t be able to get and main connection to attack. We need to seek a middle distance we’re the opponent is close enough to attack yet not so close that we our attacks get stifled. As such you must be able to PUSH BACK WITH FRAMES if he gets too close, and PULL HIM CLOSE WITH GRIPS if he is far away. Because things happen very quickly you must be able to switch from pull to push and back again at a moments notice. As a general rule DEFENSE IS BUILT AROUND PUSHING and OFFENSE IS BUILT AROUND PULLING although there are some important exceptions to this general rule. Best of all are grips and positions that enable enable you to do both - such as ashi garami. Next time you play guard pay more attention to push and pull dynamics. When opponents threaten to pass - FOCUS ON STRONG PUSHING FRAMES. When opponents hand back FOCUS ON PULLING THEM INTO YOUR ATTACKS. It will make your developing guard game progress rapidly

Grip with four appendages - not two

Grip with four appendages - not two: When people ask me about gripping skills in Jiu jitsu they almost invariably want to talk about grip STRENGTH. Even when they talk about this they invariably refer to strength of the HANDS. Never forget that from guard position you must learn to grip with both hands AND feet. It is crucial that you develop dexterity in your feet so that they can grip and pull and push just like your hands do. The great advantage of guard position is that it UNWEIGHTS YOUR FEET so that they can be used as two extra gripping limbs. You get to fight an opponent with four of your limbs - he only gets to fight with two. Look how uber talented Australian grappler Craig Jones expertly uses all four limbs simultaneously to grip up his opponent as he closes distance. Your hands are only half the story of gripping in Jiu jitsu - only when you use all four appendages in concert will you maximize your gripping potential

Push and pull

Push and pull: If you wish to excel in Jiu jitsu there is one seemingly simple edict upon which much of your future success or failure depends - when an opponent pulls - push - and when he pushes - pull. It’s a simple and well known idea that people TALK about all the time and then forget as soon as they start sparring. Don’t just SAY it - LIVE AND BREATH IT every time you’re on the mat and I promise you that your performance will increase overnight. When you have a strongly resisting opponent this fundamental maxim will help your performance more than anyone technique will. Learn to take advantage of the power of your opponents force and you will make a strong man fight HIS OWN STRENGTH as well as yours!

Why stay in front of opponents when you can get behind them

Why stay in front of opponents when you can get behind them: To a large degree Jiu jitsu is the skill of maneuvering behind opponents. Sure, you can finish people from frontal positions, but nothing will match the relative ease and certainty of getting behind people and working from there. Try to make this PROGRESSION TO THE BACK an IMMEDIATE REFLEX in your part. Opportunities don’t last long in competitive matches so the earlier you make your move the better in most cases. Just as you wouldn’t accept being in front of an opponents legs when playing against an opponents guard, but rather always seeking to get around his legs to the side, so to from turtle position always seek to get past your opponents arms and get to the back. Of course there will be times when you may favor frontal attacks such as Guillotines or other strangles from the front, but your default option should always be to go behind your opponent

Carry your opponents weight easily through posture

Carry your opponents weight easily through posture: When you work in bottom position you will have to carry your opponents weight on top of you for extended periods. This can be tiring and fruitless if done with poor posture. IF YOU WANT TO EASILY CARRY AND MOVE HEAVY OPPONENTS FROM BOTTOM KEEP YOUR KNEES TO CHEST AND SOINE CURVED LIKE THE BOTTOM OF A ROCKING CHAIR - just as a rocking chair can easily carry and move heavy bodies, so too will you. Look how Nicky Ryan uses the banana curve in his spine to topple an opponent forward and easily move him into a position where he can lift himself into a cross ashi garami entry. If your spine is flat on the floor you will feel every ounce of your opponents weight and won’t be able to move him an inch. Put a healthy curve in your spine and you will bounce him around from one attack to another.

You always start directly in front of opponents - but your goal is always to move from there to an advantageous angle in order to attack

You always start directly in front of opponents - but your goal is always to move from there to an advantageous angle in order to attack: Every match starts with the two athletes squared off in front of each other, but the easiest attacks are those where you have an angle out to the side, or best of all, behind your opponent. As such, the general pattern of all your training ought to be an initial square off followed by constant jousting for angle. If you can’t get angle you will have to find another form of advantage (eg level). Try not to settle for attacking straight through the front door (unless it’s a distraction or ruse for a second attack). You can get away with it when you are bigger,stronger, faster or in better shape - but when you face athlete of equal prowess to yourself, that will be an unsuccessful strategy in the vast majority of cases. Start asking yourself what your favorite means of gaining angle out of frontal positions are. Try to find other methods that compliment your favorites. Be sure to be able to get angles on BOTH SIDES as the more an opponent resists on one side, the easier it will be to get to the other. Remember always that just because you START in front of your opponent, that doesn’t mean you want to STAY in front - constantly joust for angles and if you get them, your attacks will double their effectiveness. If you don’t, your opponent will have to work so hard to main square positioning he will be easier to attack by other means

From guard almost everything begins with an attack on the opponents balance

From guard almost everything begins with an attack on the opponents balance: Here I am demonstrating a double leg entry into cross ashi garami. Note how it begins, as almost all attacks from guard so, as an attack on the opponents balance that forces hands to floor in reaction and then going from there. Your opponent can’t ignore such an attack, his reaction and your preferences will determine the direction and choice of your response - but it all begins with balance.

Demarcation point - the elbow

Demarcation point - the elbow: It sounds so obvious as to be foolish, but It’s important to know where you are in grappling, because knowledge of where you are determines how you ought to act. In most cases it’s pretty obvious where you are - inside a closed guard, side control, knee on belly, north south etc etc Most white belts can tell you immediately where they are at any given point in a match. Things can get more tricky in some situations however. The most commonly occurring situation is where you are still ostensibly in front of your opponent BUT YIU HAVE GOTTEN BEHIND HIS ELBOW. If you look at this picture of Gordon Ryan from last years ADCC world championships you will probably think that he is in the mounted position - and by standard criteria you would be correct. However, he has gotten behind his opponents elbow. Even though they are still chest to chest, once you’ve beaten your opponents elbow you are 90% of the way to the back - at this point you should already be switching mentally to the idea that you are BEHIND your opponent and adjusting your targets accordingly. Remember that the elbow is the single most important demarcation point in upper body back attacks - once you’ve passed that point it’s time to start thinking in terms of a new position and change your focus.