The Importance of Anchors in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The Importance of Anchors in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Anchors (Grips / Hooks / Etc)

Hey all!

Over the last couple weeks, we began discussing “Posture” as it relates to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, grappling, and human movement on the whole. If you missed the first two parts, you can catch up by looking at the introduction of posture in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the technical application of posture in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

The major takeaway from the first two sections is this: Your spine must always be stabilized by the muscles in your core in order to create a platform to generate force. This stability starts at the top of the skull and goes all the down to the bottom of the pelvis. This is a fancy-shmancy way of saying: Never allow your spine to twist against itself if you want to move effectively in your sport and avoid injuries!

So now what? You’ve got a stable spine, your hips, glutes and core are engaged, now what? That brings up to the topic this week: Anchors. For our purposes, “anchors” include ALLLLLL of our methods for attaching ourselves to our partner (seatbelt / harness, hooks, grips, etc.).

Here are the most important aspects of a good anchor:

1. An anchor creates dependent movement:

For example, a butterfly hook behind your partner’s knee will cause your foot to move in unison with their knee and a grip on your partner’s sleeve will cause your hand to move in unison with their wrist (or elbow, if your grip captures the elbow joint instead of the wrist). This is also why a loose grip on a sleeve, pant leg, etc. is NOT a good anchor: not only is the anchor easily removed, but it does not allow you to create dependent movement, precisely apply force to your partner, or track your partner’s movements. Sad stuff y’all.

2. An anchor is strong from the center of your body out:

Now we can connect the previous lessons on posture with the concept of anchoring. Since the body prioritizes faults in spinal positioning over faults in the position of our limbs, if your spinal position becomes compromised, your anchors will weaken. For example, if I anchor my hands (grab your pants) in order to execute a bullfighter pass but then I lose my posture (rounding the back, shoulders falling together, etc) as I start moving to the side, it will be easy for you to break my grips and counter me. There are countless examples of this, so start looking! :]

Keep your spine stable at all times! Instead of anchoring your hands and then correcting posture, always assume the best posture possible before your grip, during your grip and after your grip!

3. An anchor allows you to brace your weight:

The next step after acquiring an anchor is bracing. Bracing is when you take any ol’ anchor and you give it the ability to support weight. Again, think of the bullfighter pass: When you take the grip on your partner’s pants, you must immediately turn your elbows towards your body before you even think about passing the guard. Otherwise, you will be unable to place your weight onto your partner’s legs which in turn results in them a) recovering guard or b) you falling over as you pass! Different anchors will have specifics for how to brace (elbows turn in towards the body or leg extends completely), but they all require you to have a stable spine.

Tie it all together:

If we look back at the previous lessons, we can see that anchoring and bracing come into play LONGGGGG before we ever begin a bullfighter pass. This is because our feet, not our hands, are the very first anchors we create! Think about it: When you do the bracing exercise from the first lesson on posture, you first anchor your feet by placing them straight, grabbing the ground with the toes, etc. Then, you brace by activating your glutes, core, and hips. This roots your feet into the ground and creates dependent movement between you and the floor. From here, you can generate a stable platform for applying force (walking to your training partner and then creating the next set of anchors on the pants). Remember, the reason you can walk forward when your feet are crooked isn’t because your spine is unstable, but rather, this stability requires you to place dangerous shearing force on your knees (think of ACL injuries). Your body will compromise your knees before your spine any day of the week. In contrast, walking forward with your feet straight is a great way to place this force into the muscle of your glutes (good for you) instead of your knees (bad news bears for you). Good news bears! :]


Well, if you must know now, all of these lessons are in preparation for the most crushingly delightful (or sinister-ingly delicious or terrifyingly glorious) use of force the human body is capable of: Torque.

See you soon! :] OSS

-Coach T

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