This was one of the more popular article series I wrote for the old maccavelli blog. As its now 4 years old I decided to update it and let it see the light of day here on the Griphouse’s blog. Hopefully a whole new bunch of athletes can benefit from the ideas shared below.
Those who coach or are otherwise totally immersed in it often fail to see just how complicated Jiu Jitsu is to learn. If you look at jiu jitsu comps today versus those from a few years ago they look like completely different activities. As a fairly new and innovative sport Jiu Jitsu is constantly developing with strategies and techniques changing from year to year.
That being said we can break all these variations into 6 basic starting positions. From this point there is an endless list of techniques and strategies that can be utilised. With so many options no wonder the athlete can sometimes feel lost and overwhelmed by it all.
The chess comparison is thrown about a lot, but I would argue that Jiu jitsu can be even more confusing, as physical attributes are involved, blurring the effectiveness of any “correct response” to a situation. On top of that no one is trying to throttle you with your own clothing in chess.
I wake up everyday thankful that the UFC became popular and I no longer have this conversation every few months:
Me: So this is Guard what I want you to do is wrap your legs round this guys hips and…..
Newbie: Hold on a minute, why the hell would I want to do that.
Me: Well if you don’t, he can get past your legs and hips and beat the crap out of you and lets not forgot all those points you will be giving up. Plus from here you can actually win the fight from your back.
Newbie: this all sounds turbo gay. How would I win a fight off my back?
Me: well what I want you to do is wrap your legs round this guys head and ……
The rise of mma has improved peoples awareness of jiu jitsu but it is still a vast and confusing sport. What I encourage new guys to do is to break there learning up into stages.
Stage 1- Identify the 6 major positions and their postures
Well it’s actually 12 positions as we must address each with postures for the top and the bottom athlete.
The six major positions, Top and bottom are:
From the perspective of the top guy and the guy on the bottom we need to know what these positions are for. What is our aim in these positions and what is the posture I want to adopt when I find myself there?
Posture is a big deal and cannot be overestimated. You cannot even begin to do anything effectively if your posture is wrong. Without correct posture everything you do will require a lot more effort and will ultimately not work against experienced players.
Again this is a broad simplification. There are many different variations of side control top posture and this corresponds to a different postural response from the bottom man. But as with all complex topics simplification is the first stage of learning.
Side Control Bottom:
My goal from here is to re-guard, turtle up or turn away in an effort to improve my position
Posture- On my side as much as possible, near arm blocking the cross face, far arm on opponents neck, body crunched up small, feet planted and prepared to shrimp.
Once you have identified these 6 positions and determined the basic postures they require, write them down on something.
When training keep thinking:
Being mounted = this posture
Guard top = this posture
Half guard bottom = this posture
“Identify the position” is a great mantra to have on repeat while rolling. As a coach it’s a much easier cue to use than “no put your hand there and your hips here and do …..”.
With experience you can start free styling it a bit, but our initial aim when starting out is to limit the individuals options. When you are mounted for the first time, you have millions of options you could:
- Bench press the guy
- Rollover and give your back
- throw your legs up in the air
- push his hips
- underhook a leg
- bridge like a mentalist in no particular direction
Once you have identified the correct posture to adopt the game becomes infinitely simpler. You only have one option, the right one.