If I asked you what the 3 most important factors in BJJ were, what would your answer be?
Would you answer “Acai, a limited edition Shoyoroll, and a humorous Portuguese nickname”? Not a bad start, but not really what we’re looking for here in this discussion.
There is no definitive answer of course. However, 8th degree coral belt Marcus Soares of the Carlson Gracie Team up in Vancouver has a succinct answer.
“What are the 3 most important factors in jiu-jitsu?”
Prof. Soares says, ‘Have good hip movement on bottom; solid base and posture in top, and powerful grips.”
1) Good Hip Movement On The Bottom
Professor Soares says that the key to passing the guard is controlling the opponent’s hips. Therefore, the key to having a difficult to pass guard is one’s ability to move the hips.
Soares explains that moving the hips on the bottom is not intuitive for most people and the most difficult part of jiu-jitsu to master.
Drills such as shrimping down the mat and various types of hip escapes help, but attention and hours on the mat are the real answer.
2) Top Base, Posture, And Balance
We love to watch submission highlight reels, but the truth is, if you don’t have solid base and posture, you don’t have anything!
This is why wrestlers are such tough opponents even without much submission training.
Professor Soares stresses the top game as the most important positional strategy in jiu-jitsu. Playing guard is an important skill for sure, but every other style of grappling on the planet has the top guy winning.
3) Strong Grips
“Strong grips can dominate a fight” says Professor Soares. I never fully appreciated this aspect of jiu-jitsu until I met a few practitioners who could dominate grips.
One blue belt I met in Brazil had a shockingly powerful grip and I felt as if my gi top was caught in the metal teeth of a rotating gear and I was being steadily pulled into doom. Once that hand was in my collar, I was in trouble!
A Brazilian black belt I spoke with talked about the experience of grappling judo Olympian Travis Stevens and revealed that he was unable to break the judoka’s powerful grips — especially from the bottom! He admitted that he could not pass Stevens because of those grips.
What do you think are the three most important factors in Brazilian jiu-jitsu?