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I know it’s been quite some time since I last updated the blog and it’s not that I didn’t want to, but for some reasons it just fell out that way. I’m not gone or disappeared and the blog is definitely not dead! :) That said I will get right into the topic of this post – the most fundamental view one can look at (Wrest-) Jiu Jitsu in my opinion.

During last summer I was once again visiting my good friends down in Denmark, CSA and Rumble Sports, for some training. In one of the training sessions I was having somewhat trouble with a particular arm frame as I was passing the guard. I felt as if I was struggling too much and I have this saying about jits that goes something like “When you find youreself using too much strength, struggling, then there is a better way of doing it”. That applies to all areas in Bjj. Perhaps this is also the single most important idea that has helped me to achieve better performance in Bjj since day 1. I’ve always asked myself this, when I felt something I did required exsessive use of strenght.

Even when the end result is “good”, for example I pass the guard and I succeed, but the process was “ugly” then Im not satisified. I always have an ideal “vision” for some kind of technique, or posture etc, in my head. As I execute this technique and I feel its even slightly off that vision. I start to inquire, whats wrong with it? I dig deeper, trying to understand details and concepts behind things. I experiment, look at top level Bjj players in similar situation, try to decrypt and put things together.

Well this particular case is just another example of my research. After the little frame struggle I started to think and I realised that the bottom person is trying to maintain or create space with those frames. Its not something shockingly new! We all know that there is a fight for space in Jiu Jitsu, but this comes to mind foremost in situations of dominant positions and escaping them. For example, when being mounted or side controlled, its common knowledge to create space to be able to move and escape. BUT, at least for me, I didnt quite look at everything the same way, every other area of Bjj, the way I looked at escapes. The fight for space (and balance) happens everywhere. Also in guard passing.

In the past, I do have talked about using frames to keep space when playing guard, but the biggest revelation to me was applying this knowledge for not just passing the guard, but any top position, where the bottom guy is using frames to stop you. As a end result I figured out how to start DESTROYING FRAMES!!!!

That is the single most important practical application I got out of all this. When you watch the video I will explain this.

To clarify a few things and to word things a bit differently, I would say, the ATTACKER is trying to take space away while the DEFENDER tries to create/preserve space.
Who/What is an Attacker and Defender?

Not talking about stand up wrestling, just ground, then in Bjj always one person is on bottom and the other is on top. Whatever position you look at, that will be the case.

Usually, when not talking about concrete submission or sweep attempts (things we tend to immediately associate with attack in Bjj), then the Attacker is top person and bottom person is Defender, except for in Closed Guard.

I will come back to the guard passing example. There is a fight for Space and Balance. This means by default, the top person is trying to SMASH in! And the guard player develops FRAMES to keep that space! Frames are applied by using legs and arms. Every guard is a usage of frames, just with little variations. Now, knowing this, it should become apparent that when you want to actually pass the Guard you have to be able to deal with frames.

I will not write everything up, you can watch the video as I explain there, but a VERY IMPORTANT thing to know about frames is that Frames are ONLY effective in a SINGLE DIRECTION! What this means and how to use this knowledge watch the video!

PS! It shows that I have not made videos in a while as the allmighty ALRIGHT bug was sort of back :)

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So now that you’ve gone through my post, watch this matchup of Roger vs Saulo. Maybe you are able to now look at whats happening from a little different perspective.

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Jan 11 Grappling 6 Comments

6 Responses to Bjj, a fight for Space and Balance

  1. Irmantas says:

    Great post, as always. Thank you, I really appreciate it. It always fascinates me that the more I learn, the more simpler (and more fundamental) the view becomes. Of course, this is not surprising – basics is what makes the art.
    Also, I wanted to mention Roy Harris. There’s an article of his somewhere on the web, where besides space he also talks about proper use of weight, as another fundamental. That helped me a lot when I first read it. Just thought it is a good place to mention it, maybe that would help some of the readers, too.
    Thank you again, keep up the good work.

  2. Indrek R says:

    Just like in Chess…:)

  3. Ross says:

    Good to have you back Martin. And there’s nothing wrong with saying Alright a lot. It’s what we do in Aberdeen…

  4. Steffen says:

    Hey Martin, I found your blog a couple of days ago through another blog, The Jiu Jitsu Laboratory (another great bjj blog). I just wanted to say that I’m really glad I found it, and I’m also very happy to see that you seem to be back after a long hiatus. I’ve started on your first post and I’m going to read through every single article. I really like the format of your articles, where you first explain everything in text and then explain everything one more time in the video. It makes everything much easier to understand, even for a white belt such as myself. Thank you, and please keep this great material coming :)

  5. Martin says:

    No problem Steffen!

    Glad to hear people find my material useful!

  6. John says:

    Great stuff as always. Keep it up!