When you’re a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu beginner, the learning curve is extremely steep and sometimes the amount of information coming at you from all sources: your instructor, your more experienced training partners, YouTube videos, instructionals etc. can feel almost overwhelming. This is quite common and not just confined to the white belt level; we are sure that your instructor has told you to ‘focus on the basics of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’.
For example a common misstep among blue belts is ‘technique acquisition’ where they go out and try to learn as many different techniques as possible but only develop a surface level understanding of each one and thus are never quite able to apply them as effectively as they should. The right move is to develop the ‘trunk’ of your technique tree, the roots of your game, understand it deeply, and then branch out from there.
For this article, however let’s focus on the most fundamental of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu basics. We will be giving you quick bite-sized tips that your budding grappling mind can immediately digest and put into action as soon as your next training session.
One of the key sources of power in grappling is the hip bridge; it is one of the strongest motions in the body and if you are skeptical go on YouTube and see the numbers people are putting up for barbell hip bridges; far more they can deadlift and that’s the lift that has the biggest numbers! Anyway, for an effective hip bridge, you need to place your heels as close to your butt as possible; the further away they are, the lower your bridge will be.
Aside from the fact that anyone would choose to be a T-Rex over a chicken, what we really mean is keep your elbows to yourself. An open elbow is a powerful lever that can be easily exploited by your opponents; some quick examples are omoplatas and kimuras. Keeping your elbows glued to your ribs in many scenarios is one of the core basics of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Posture exists in every position and is also a key beginner mistake; too often we see beginners ‘shell up’; bending their spine and crunching in a vain attempt to hide their limbs. This takes away their own effectiveness; try to adopt a strong ‘lifting’ posture like you were doing heavy squats or deadlifts: lead with your hips not your chest, engage your legs and core, and keep a straight spine.
Remember, someone trying to break your posture by pulling on your lapel is almost the same as a heavy barbell across your back! The basic mechanics of heavy lifting can also help your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu basics!
The ultimate mindset in fighting is ‘mushin’ or the state of no mind. If you’ve ever practiced yoga or meditation then you would know how focusing on the breath can be a powerful anchor for your many errant thoughts. Adopt the same practice when rolling and you’ll soon find yourself seeing techniques and opportunities you previously might not have recognized; especially those that are currently being done to you!
While we are filing this under Brazilian Jiu Jitsu basics, in truth, this is a skill that practitioners at all levels should be working on daily.
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