Torque: Fixed Points, Twisting For, and Coaching Through
Torque (Part 2)
Over the last few weeks, we have introduced a lot of new ideas. Last week, we went over some tips for beginners. You can find a link to that here.
Also, as usual, you can find a review of Posture, Anchors and Torque (with an example of application in the Closed Guard) here.
1) Torque requires a fixed point:
When you use a wrench to loosen a nut and bolt, you adjust the wrench to fit and then apply force towards the end of the wrench handle and (hopefully) loosen the nut / bolt. Unfortunately, sometimes we encounter a problem, like – a) the wrench is too big b) the bolt is already loose or c) the bolt is “stripped” meaning the shape of the bolt has degraded so the wrench cannot attach. The reason the wrench doesn’t work the way we’d like in this situation is because there is an inability to create a fixed point against the nut / bolt.
A similar situation exists in Jiu Jitsu – if I use the Bullfighter Pass and I do not actively pin your feet to the ground it becomes difficult to properly move to the side because my feet are not stable enough for me to safely change my positioning. Similarly, if you are trying to finish a pass using the Leg Drag / Knee-Between position but find it difficult to stabilize and finish, often it is because your shoulder has not been fixed to your partner. Finally, when you are trying to take the back and control the back mount / choke, it is critical to keep your shoulder pinned to your opponent’s head at all times; having the ability to create a spinal fault by tilting their head forward, back or to the side is incredibly powerful and it simultaneously allows you to be agile when countering your partner’s escapes.
2) Always twist your grips:
I like anything that can be a “Rule of Thumb.” Keeping your toes and feet engaged on the mat is a good rule of thumb because it ensures that you are constantly able to create torque against the floor to both stabilize your positioning and move forcefully in many directions. Keeping your elbows tight is another good rule of thumb because it engages your lats and core which are the largest stabilizers in your upper body. Twisting your grips is our last rule of thumb for the week, because three thumbs is ridiculous enough for any party.
Whenever you twist your grips in, you are applying torque with your hands. This is just like keeping your toes on the mat, which allows you to create torque from the floor as well as keeping your elbows tight, which allows you to create torque in your lats and core. Why so much torque? During both drilling and sparring, students will often have their hands grabbing the correct place, but they do not see the proper guard pass / sweep / etc. and they also don’t feel like they have the balance to execute those techniques. By always twisting your grips in, you will often see your partner’s hooks easily fall away (indicating the guard pass you were looking for is now open) or you will feel your stability increase and as a result, feel much more agile.
3) Coaching Through Torque:
This past weekend, we had several students from Robot compete. All of the competitors successfully applied the techniques we have been practicing over the last few months. I found it interesting that coaching the competitors using the ideas of torque allowed them to find their own favorite openings / attacks and also gave them proper intervals to rest, adjust grips, etc.
For example, during Tony’s matches, I mostly focused on coaching him to keep his elbows tight and twist his grips in when he was passing the guard. I didn’t give him specific passes to execute, but he ended up seeing his A-game passes when he stabilized his body prior to passing. During both Eugene and Andrew’s matches, they were passing very well, taking the back well, etc. My advice during their matches was almost entirely to twist their opponents’ head forward with their shoulder when they would use the seatbelt grip to take the back. They were both able to feel how to properly move their legs, torso, etc. as a result of focusing on that one aspect of their control. Not only that, but by applying the twisting pressure and creating a spinal fault, Eugene and Andrew could rest, readjust and then move forward because they knew their opponent was unable to escape until they re-aligned and fixed the spinal fault.