“What are the Basics of Jiu Jitsu? Part 2/3”

In Part 2 we will talk about the basic principles to keep in mind while training Jiu Jitsu. Now bear in mind that if you are able to learn these principles and always keep them at the forefront of your mind you will definitely accelerate the speed at which you learn and understand Jiu Jitsu. Principles There are a lot of key principles to keep in mind while training Jiu Jitsu and a basic awareness and understanding of some of these principles can really help accelerate your learning curve and deepen your understanding of the art. I would like to begin with a few of the most fundamental principles that apply to Jiu Jitsu. The first is the topic of “Base”. It is common in Jiu Jitsu circles to hear instructors talking about checking/watching your “Base” but what is “Base”? “Base” is the ability to control your centre of gravity and manipulate your weight so as to produce the best possible balance and “Leverage” for the position that you are in. Good “Base” makes you hard to off-balance whether on your feet or on the ground. Standing in good “Base” can prevent you from being pushed over, pulled into a car or thrown to the floor. Good “Base” can also be displayed on the ground by how well you are able to use your weight and adjust your sense of static and dynamic balance making you feel much heavier than you are by also optimizing your “Leverage”. Therefore great “Base” is developed by a combination of things such as being aware of where your weight is centred and how shifting your centre of gravity can make you feel heavier and harder to move! Static and dynamic balance as well as correct application of leverage will give you optimal “Base” regardless if you are on your feet or on the ground. If you are able to place your centre of gravity in a position where your opponent has poor “Leverage” to move you then you probably have good “Base”. But remember Jiu Jitsu is about movement so you need to constantly ask yourself how is my “base” in this position is and make adjustments on the fly so that you always feel heavy and are hard for your opponent to manipulate!

The next principle that goes hand in hand with good “Base” is “Posture”. “Posture” is Jiu Jitsu is defined as being in good position and knowing how your body is placed relative to your opponent. If I am out of “Posture” I may be more susceptible to attack. For example when doing a mental check of your “Posture” some of the things to look for are:

-Where are my arms/hands or legs/feet? Are they in danger of being attacked?

-Is my neck exposed for a submission?

-How is the alignment of my body? Am I off-balance or is my “Posture” broken leaving me susceptible to attack?

-Where are my hips relative to my opponent’s?

-Does my opponent have any control over me or my “Posture” etc?

Another key principle to keep in mind is “How to protect yourself from harm”. Now this may seem self-explanatory but in Jiu Jitsu you will often put your body in compromising positions and an awareness of how your body moves will help you protect it. If you think you are going to get injured, TAP or YELL out to “STOP”. Always put your health and safety first, Jiu Jitsu is like a marathon not a sprint. If you put in the time, do the work and you will get good! As mentioned earlier learning how to “Roll” and “Break fall” will both help protect your body as will learning to tap early. Now what I mean by that is don’t hold to the last dying moment and only tap when something hurts! If you are caught in a submission tap, celebrate your opponent’s technical prowess and learn from the mistake. Simple things such as being aware of how and where you place your hands may help prevent you from straining your fingers/wrists… Learning to go with a movement instead of fighting it can lessen the impact and reduce the risk of injury. Learning “How to protect yourself from harm” is an extremely important yet often overlooked principle and a lot of it boils down to common sense and awareness of your own body. Try to train with people who want to lean and are not reckless on the mat while rolling. Always look to find good training partners to work with that you trust and can experiment with in a safe environment. And above all use your head. For example if you are a brain surgeon and need your hands for your profession it is probably a wise idea to steer clear of training with an explosive, athletic up and coming MMA fighter. The risk of injury may just be too great and therefore you would be wise to avoid training with them.

The final principle to keep in mind (for now) is thought to have come from Jigoro Kano and Kodokan Judo and that is of “Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Effort”. In Jiu Jitsu this is usually referred to as “Leverage” and is what makes Gracie Jiu Jitsu so vastly different and more effective than traditional Japanese Jujutsu! Grand Master Helio Gracie (R.I.P.) is said to have dramatically have improved the use of “Leverage” in Jiu Jitsu due to his small physical stature and not having the athleticism to perform all the techniques the way they were traditionally taught! “Leverage” is Jiu Jitsu is defined as gaining mechanical advantage by being in position to use a lever so that you are able to do more with less! One of the secrets to understanding and mastering “Leverage” is to never contest power with your opponent, instead find a way to harness their energy and add yours to it so that you are able to apply a technique in a way that combines both of your strength therefore making it difficult for your opponent to defend. When training Jiu Jitsu always strive to use good technique maximising your “Leverage” from all positions. A simple way of doing this is to imagine that your opponent is much bigger, stronger and more explosive than you and that you must rely on your technical prowess to overcome their superior physical attributes! Even when training with smaller or weaker opponents make a conscious effort not to overpower them instead try to use perfect technique against them as this will help both of you learn better anyway!

Good Luck with Your Training and Happy Rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu Jitsu Kingdom



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