Simple BJJ Principles To Train By

Published on by Samantha Faulhaber

When I started this article I brainstormed what I think the most important principle for someone to get a grasp of might be. This is what I came up with. A list of the principles I would teach myself if I could start back at the beginning.

Bridge: Creates space underneath of your body, allowing you then to potentially move into that space. DON’T half-ass your bridge. Your bridge is a completely separate being from whatever your next move is.

Hold: Use your muscles in such a way that you stand your ground. Be firm and MEAN IT when you hold on to something no matter what part of your body you are using to do so. Don’t half-ass anything.

Grip: Holding specifically with your hands. Mean it when you grip up and don’t accept someone else gripping you. Dealing with other people’s grips early will change everything. You may get away with letting stuff go for a while, but eventually you get to black belt and fight Aarae Alexander and quickly learn that getting behind at an elite level means you may never get a chance to come back. That first contact you make with your grips must be firm, purposeful, and dominant. Every time you change positions you must re-dominate the grip war either by keeping yourself away or by instituting yours first.

Frame: Keep someone in one place and move the rest of you farther away. Or if you prefer, push someone away while also moving yourself away. Note to self: lying underneath of someone for 7+ years with your arms passively stuck between the two of you while you struggle is not a frame. Neither is pushing but not moving yourself. Neither is keeping your arms at the same length as you do move yourself, allowing the person to follow on top just as close as they were when you started to try and get away. Change the distance between the two of you.

Hip Awareness: Instead of ‘hip escape’. Yes, obviously hip escapes are extremely important, but I like ALL sorts of guards and also think of this as ‘center of gravity awareness’. If you focus on someone’s hips and displacing them you will start to get sweeps started from everywhere. If you focus on getting your hips either under your opponent’s hips or far away from your opponent’s hips you can change the game. Study the relationship between your pelvic positioning relative to your training partners’.

Head Control: Where the head goes, the body follows. The close cousin of pelvic awareness. Control one of those things and you have a good chance of controlling your opponent. Free one of those things and you have a better chance of escaping.

Face Your Opponent: Rarely is there reason to turn away from your opponent, and even if you do it’s in the pursuit of turning back towards them. Donkey guard aside, you don’t face away to fight someone.

The Ground Is Power: Wherever you are connected to the ground is where you get your power from. Drive into it with force and receive force back in return. I asked my beginner women’s class two weeks ago to show me their bridge. Then I asked them if they could bridge without their feet on the floor. It was a trick question. You need to be able to drive into the floor with whatever you are connected to the floor with at a given time.

Complete Body Connection: Think of your body both as a whole and as a billion tiny pieces at once so you can use it in different ways every millisecond. When I’m trying to move someone, I lock my body down into a strong range of motion and use it to pull or push them. If I’m trying to move around someone, I am as nuanced as I need to be so that I can feel the tiniest shift in them and adapt my pressure accordingly. Well, I try to anyway.