Jiu Jitsu: It’s all in the hips

When people first start training, the always want to figure out the best shortcut to not sucking. Well, I have the secret for you: it’s all the in hips. Learning hip mobility and placement is probably one of the most important physical skills that jiujiteiros must develop to no longer be absolutely horrendous at grappling. This is relatively simple but is most certainly NOT easy.


For starters, shrimping falls into this category. The better you are able to shrimp the better you’ll be able to execute both escapes as well as submissions. If you are good at shrimping, you will be un-mountable, un-side controllable and a generally pain in the ass to maintain control of. Expert shrimpers are very often also pretty good grapplers.

Another important element of hip movement skills is understanding hip pressure. That is to say, understanding how to stop another person from moving their hips by applying pressure to them. Again this sounds pretty simple but it’s quite difficult. I’ve seen people use downward pressure to try to control hip movement but this is normally not enough, you also need to understand how hips move laterally and be able to stifle that movement as well.

One concept that I’ve been playing with lately is the importance of keeping your hips low, preferably under your opponent’s hips. This can be difficult if the other person’s hips are against the ground. In instances in which my opponent’s hips are against the ground I like to try to wedge under their hips and drop mine lower. If someone can’t put their hips to the ground they’ll have a harder time generating force.


Understanding of hip placement and movement is also important for the standup game. By this of course I mean that if you are able to keep your hips lower than your opponent’s and to change levels at will you can generally control the standing game. Wrestling and Judo are both heavily reliant upon intelligent hip placement.

If you are new to jiu jitsu and want to start taking the first steps towards learning how to grapple, learn how to use your hips. You can generate more force with your hips than elsewhere on your body and can learn to transfer that force making you more difficult to control and ultimately giving you the ability to control others. Most submissions come from either torquing your hips or elevating them, coupled with isolation your opponents limbs from their hips. Understanding how and when to pin your own elbows to your hips is also a crucial skill.

For those reading who have mastered hip mobility and control, what exercises have you found to be most effective in developing these skills? Do you agree with my assessment that jiu jitsu is all in the hips?


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