Posture in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Introduction to Posture:
For the next few weeks I would like to discuss some of the core elements of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Whether it’s bracing and anchoring or creating torque during guard passes / sweeps, there are several broad ideas that can guide our understanding of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques. This week we will start with “Posture.” Posture is a term thrown around a lot in Jiu Jitsu, sometimes quickly explained as a “straight back” or “looking up to the ceiling,” but generally without regard to what the body is actually doing when “good posture” is achieved as well as the differences between “good posture” and “bad posture.”
How Do You Achieve “Good Posture”?
This week let’s keep in mind that “good posture” means the entirety of the spinal column is in a stable position and then from this stable position, force can be generated. This force could be used to throw a ball, kick a face / box of cereal or pass someone’s guard. Whenever we use our arms and legs to perform these tasks, we must first create a stable position for our spine. Here are 3 things to keep in mind to stabilize your spine:
1) The skull, spine and pelvis all must agree:
A stable spine is straight and does not twist against itself. To check if your spine is straight, make sure your eyes, chin, shoulders, ribs and hips are all level to the ground as well as facing the same direction. Engage your glutes, hips and the rest of your core to keep this alignment as you move during training.
2) To stabilize the pelvis, you must stabilize your feet:
You can’t build a strong structure on sand! To stabilize your feet, practice rooting your feet into the floor and then hold the rooted position for 15 – 30 seconds anytime you catch yourself standing with your toes splayed open or turned in like a duck. Whenever you walk or stand with feet turned in / out, your body looks to compensate for that “slack” in your body by placing the tension and force in other, less desirable places, like knee joints, lumbar spine, etc.
To root your feet into the ground: Stand straight up with feet shoulder width apart and facing precisely straight ahead. Now, with heels still on the ground, grab onto the mat with all five of your toes on both feet (this is easiest to learn on the mat at Robot). Now that you are holding the floor, engage your glutes, hip flexors, quads, and abs (you can poke these muscle groups with your thumb to see if they are flexing / engaged) and imagine that your feet are turning the floor open in a pair of circles. Your right foot is creating torque clock-wise and your left foot is creating torque counter-clockwise. This should cause your knees to open very slightly. You should feel very stable in this position and difficult to rotate from the ribs down to your feet. Practice this daily!
3) Bring your limbs towards your center:
Lastly, especially in regards to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, do not let your limbs separate from your mid-line / spine. Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible and actively pull them towards your core so there is constant torque and tension while you are moving. This will become more important as we discuss bracing (sometimes called “frames”) and anchoring (or “grips and hooks”).
Be as correct as you can be! Remember that we are practicing as carefully as we can so we ingrain good habits, but during the (occasional) chaos of sparring, we only need to perform our movements more correctly than our training partner / opponent performs their movements. Therefore, practice being tight, bracing your spine, etc. as much as you can during drilling, sparring (and free-time!) but avoid becoming so focused on one idea that you neglect to try other fun movements during training. :]
See you soon! OSS
Robot Fight and Fitness is the best gym in Los Angeles for Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and fitness. Want to try it out for yourself? Contact us for a free trial class and see for yourself!