Torque (Part 3) Cues to Remember During Transitions
What to remember:
Over the last few weeks, we have introduced a lot of new ideas. As usual, you can find a review of the previous week’s newsletter here.
Additionally, this link is the first “index” for the Anchor / Brace / Torque series we have been discussing. Use this link to jump to the beginning of the review section! :]
This week I want to discuss how you can use the sensation of torque as a cue for when to move forward to the next position. Often times, students will understand how to perform the mechanics of a particular technique, but when it comes time to merge techniques together in drilling or sparring, confusion can arise. Questions like “When you use the bullfighter pass, when should you change from the grips on the pants to another set of grips? Then, when do you change from that second set of grips?” and “When you are using the spider guard, how much do you push with your legs and pull with your arms? Which side do I pivot my head towards? Once you have the spider guard hooks, when do you transition to the leg lasso?”
These are all great questions and can be answered individually, on a case-by-case basis. However, this is very time consuming. It would be better to have a set of rules to rely on when you have these sorts of questions (whether these questions occur on or off the mat). With that in mind, here are 3 tips on how to use torque to determine when to change your grips / positioning.
1) Applying torque removes slack:
Torque, not tension (straight lines of force) is the only way to completely remove the slack from a system. Going back a few weeks to our example of the ball and the plastic bag, remember that if you want to wrap the ball in the bag with as little space as possible, you must twist that bag into position to push out all the slack.
In Jiu Jitsu, slack and torque cannot exist in equal amounts for both fighters. If I have the spider guard and hooks completely set, with one leg locked out and one bent, both grips twisting in, and my head towards the straightened leg, then there will be very little slack in my opponent’s positioning. However, as soon as my opponent grabs my pants, twists their elbows in and starts to back up, I will lose this control of my opponent as he introduces slack into my system. What this means is if your opponent’s control feels really strong and tight, you probably have too much slack in your system! Make sure you have a grip with both hands, close your elbows, keep your core (abs, hips and glutes) engaged and then see if a solution presents itself.
2) Removing all the slack is the green light for advancing to the next step:
Using the same example of the spider guard, once you have your opponent completely tied up and all the slack is gone, you can move to the next step in your attack. Having a strong spider guard setup allows you to attack with the triangle / omoplata / etc. but also is a cue to transition to an even more dominant guard (leg lasso / De La Riva, for example). If you use the spider guard but rarely feel that a transition to an attack / more powerful guard is available, check your initial position – you probably need to add more torque before you transition!
On the other side of the coin, if you are passing the guard and you feel stuck, slow, weak, etc. then your opponent has probably applied enough torque to you to restrict your ability to advance. In addition, advancing from poor position usually results in even worse positioning! Instead of trying to pass the spider guard while your partner has strong grips / hooks and is applying torque, dominate your own grips, close your elbows / stabilize your position and then remove their hooks / grips and check for an opportunity to attack.
3) Torque comes from your hands and your feet:
Walking with your feet straight is one of the most basic applications of torque. When you are walking, you are essentially falling forward and your feet land in front of you, apply torque to the floor and stabilize you so you can take another step. This is important to understand because alternating between hands and feet to create torque allows you to consistently stay stable while you move and, additionally, makes it easy to figure out what your next step should be for a particular technique.
For example, when you use the bullfighter pass, you start by approaching your opponent’s guard (torque from feet). Then, you grab the pants and close your elbows (torque from hands). As your elbows close, your stability increases, so you can begin to step back (torque from feet). After you step back completely, you can place their feet on the ground and hold them there (torque from hands). This creates a fixed point for you to stabilize on (their feet on the floor). Then, you move your feet until your spine is perpendicular to your opponent’s (torque from feet) and close your elbows again to re-stabilize (torque from hands). Next, you drive your shoulder into their knee and slide down to their hip while you simultaneously walk towards their hips / legs until your spine is parallel again (torque from feet). Once this is completed, you can change your grips, one at a time, to the bottom collar and the belt. Now that you have new grips, you must re-stabilize (torque from hands – closing elbows) before you can once again apply torque to your new fixed point (your shoulder on their hip, driving with torque from your feet) and move your feet to begin taking the back.
Real Application of Torque:
A couple of years ago I made a YouTube video wherein I taught the armbar from the closed guard. The armbar from the closed guard was one of the first places I understood the idea discussed above – use your arms until you can replace their function with your legs, and then use your arms to do something else that is useful. Only now do I understand that you must maximize the amount of torque you apply with your arms, and then you can use your legs, applying torque at both instances. If you go back and watch that video now, there are a couple places where I could have applied more torque to the position before advancing again. Can you spot where those moments are?