It’s all in the hips!

Last week we focused on two things in the beginner classes- first was the notion of fundamental movements in bottom guard position. This is a vital area for beginners to learn in Jiu Jitsu. To succesfully use the bottom guard position, you must learn to move properly, and thins means moving your hips, and, most of the time, keeping the flat of your back off the mat.

People often refer to guard position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as “fighting off your back”. It’s true that looking in on a match, it does appear as though the person in guard is lying back, but the truth is that to use the guard as a threat to your opponent’s base (balance) to sweep him over, you must be able to move your hips left and right, away from him and towards him, and perform ‘hip heists’ and bumps. In other words, it would probably be a more accurate description to say that guard playing is fighting off your hips. The same applies to when you are looking for submissions, but let’s concentrate on sweeping your opponent over for now.

It’s natural to be quite conservative and cautious in these situations when you’re starting out, and this can sometimes mean that you will hang on, sacrificing movement for the notion of retaining guard (usually closed guard) and this can lead to a lot of long periods of two novices holding each other in the closed guard position, both afraid of moving in case a wrong move gives their opponent an edge. This is runs counter to your development as a grappler. There are times to be cautious of course, but for the most part it’s best to open your guard and get moving. There are no methods of sweeping your opponent over that don’t involve hip movement of some kind, so don’t expect to get anything from locking down and holding on.

Remember also that in training, we’re not worried about losing points. You get far more out of trying something new that didn’t work than trying the same old same old and getting it every time. Sparring in training should really just be very intense, very resistant drilling in which you get to test your technique, either by refining things you already have learned, or by trying to get newer techniques. When training in the guard position, try to keep in your mind that every second you spend not moving is a second wasted.
This week, we’ll be working lots of drills for guard passing, the counter position to the guard, where we try to shut down hip movement as much as possible. Get down all week to improve your passing game!
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