Extend Yourself Into Better Jiu Jitsu
We hope you’ve recovered from the craziness of March and caught up on all of the action around the gym! Just to recap, on the Jiu Jitsu side of the mat we had Heather Davis place at the Pan American Jiu Jitsu Championship and receive her Blue Belt from Coach Tim! Additionally, we had our mini bots compete at the Dream Jiu Jitsu tournament where they took home 3 gold medals and 1 silver after some tough brackets. We’re proud of all of our teammates who choose to test themselves in competition and it’s a great way to pick out particular spots to work on. There are a number of tournaments coming up toward the end of April and throughout May and June. Let Coach Tim or Coach Luke know if you’d like to give it a shot!
… oh yeah, you might notice that Mink’s belt changed colors recently too! Mink’s dedication was rewarded recently with his brown belt! Congratulations Minky! That belt is well deserved!
Now for the meat and potatoes (yum, meat and potatoes…) of this month! Since the New Year, we’ve covered slack, fixed points, and spinal alignment and we’re starting to build up a nice foundational language to apply to our Jiu Jitsu. As we’ve talked about before, thoroughly understanding this language, while difficult at first, will exponentially increase the speed at which you are able to improve your Jiu Jitsu. If you were moving to a new country, wouldn’t it be useful to learn how to communicate in the local language despite the initial investment?
What is extension?
Extension is the pressing force that we exert in Jiu Jitsu. Like most other actions, the force generally starts from our hips or our shoulders and is projected into our opponent via a fixed point. There are many uses for extension. When we press our feet against our opponent’s arms from spider guard, our leg press is extension. When we properly drive our cross face into our opponent’s jaw (yeah, I saw that smirk :]) it is done so through extension. Even when we finish that triangle it is done mainly through extension.
Extension is finite; by which we mean that you only have as much extension as you do length in your body. Imagine laying on your back with your feet against a wall in an open-guard-like position. With your knees bent, you have some extension available. As your feet get closer to your butt (e.g., your knees are bending more and/or your hips are hinging back) you are creating the potential for more extension or, as we like to say, “creating extension.” As you press yourself away from the wall, you are using extension until your hips and legs are fully extended at which point, you have effectively “run out of extension.” Not to worry though. Depending on your position you can adjust yourself to create more extension, by figuring out how to bring your feet back towards your rear.
Why is extension important?
As mentioned above, extension one of the mechanisms by which we create force in Jiu Jitsu. What’s more is not only do we create force though extension, but we also direct force with it. The position of your hips/shoulders will dictate not only where the force is applied, but also it’s efficiency. Lot’s of Jiu Jitsu instructors and practitioners like to talk about pressure. We prefer to talk about creating torque (stay tuned for a recap of that). But whatever you want to call it, you can’t do either without using extension to generate force.
How do we use extension?
Extension is useful when we want to drive force into our opponent. Think, once again, about the cross face. Your shoulder is the fixed point on your opponent’s chin/neck and you are trying to turn their head away from you. In order to create maximal and efficient force, not to mention make your opponent seriously uncomfortable, the power and resulting “pressure” being driven through your shoulder should come from extension through your hips. While driving from your toes through your legs and pressing your hips forward (but keeping them below your shoulders) like the top part of a kettle bell swing, you are not only able to use your lats to create pressure, but you’re entire body! That’s why someone like our newest brown belt can make himself feel like a truck when he’s on top of you!
Similarly, think about completing a knee cut pass. Assuming all of your grips are correct- one hand on the collar or sleeve, the other with an underhook, and your head pressing their head away (your head is now a fixed point!), hip extending through the pass allows you to not only drive your knee past their guard, but also gives you the ability to effectively turn their head and break their spinal alignment! As it turns out, hip extension gives you force, function, and form!
As a final example, think about the guillotine we’ve been practicing in class for the last few weeks. Most of the time when we have trouble finishing it’s a result of one of two things. First, our arm doesn’t get deep enough to execute the choke properly. Second, and related to the topics we’ve just discussed, we forget to finish the choke with a hip extension! That’s the part of the choke where coach tells you “step your legs back, press your hips forward, and drop your shoulder!” If you look for it, you can find one player executing some sort of extension in virtually any position!
When you’re training for the rest of the month try to recognize where hip extension shows up and play with it a little bit. Chances are that you find that adding a little bit of hip extension where your goal is to press into your opponent you’re techniques will be more effective!
-Coach Drew & Coach T