Base: A Part Of The Subtle Complexity Of Jiu-Jitsu

Photo: New Breed Academy Downey

A major aspect of success in jiu jitsu is the ability to control your physical mass as it pertains to your orientation to the ground. This ability is often referred to as “Base”. They say that wrestlers usually have very good base because of their sport’s focus on not allowing an opponent to pin them. Judokas have a similar aptitude. What is base? How does one develop it?

There are two main areas where base needs to be developed: standing/squatting and kneeling. Simply having good base can negate many takedown attempts and prevent sweeps. Base alone, of course, isn’t always enough as you need to understand grip sets and posture, but without base, your opponent can put you wherever they want to and keep you there.

Outside of jiu jitsu, there are other sports that can teach a person to understand base, like power lifting, skiing, surfing and others, but at the end of the day it isn’t until you have another person actively trying to disrupt your base that you really begin to master maintaining it.

I’ve heard maintenance of good base referred to as “strong, athletic movement”. The idea being that there are ways a body can successfully support weight, and ways that if you try to successfully support weight you will fall down. The goal of a person attempting to execute a takedown or a sweep is to either force your body to hold weight somewhere it can’t thus disrupting your balance, or removing your points of contact with the ground and then casually pushing you over.

Perhaps the first and most important part of base mastery is to understand at which points you have contact with the ground. This may sound stupid “My Feet!”, but WHERE on your feet, are you distributing your weight through your heels or your toes or the balls of your feet? Are you evenly distributing your weight? Are your feet spread apart or close together? Are they crossed? Understanding that there are certain angles at which you can stand and better maintain balance is a key element of understanding base.

Another key element is understanding what another person would need to do to remove those points of contact. For example if you have one foot forward and the other foot back and the foot that is forward is bearing all of your weight it may be more difficult for the other person to move that foot, however if they are able to regaining balance may be more difficult.

There are many different approaches to learning about base and how to maintain it. What are some methods you use to improve your base?

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Emil Fischer is an active black belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio ( and teaching at Ararat Martial Arts and FItness Center. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, North Coast Cryo ( NottaRookie, YM ( discount code COOKIES), Defense Soap ( discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards ( discount code EMILIMPACT), and North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear


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