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Control the Hips, Control your Opponent

Control the Hips, Control your Opponent


Controlling the hips is paramount in so many aspects of bjj.  You need to control the hips to maintain side control, back position, mount, and to play guard or pass your opponent’s guard.  Controlling the hips and moving your hips may be the most important thing in bjj.

Why is hip movement and control so essential?  The hips carry the body and are one of the most powerful muscles.  If you can control your opponent’s hips, you can establish much better control over him and leverage for attacks.

Hip Control and Maintaining Side, Mount, and Back

Hip control may be the most imperative detail to controlling your opponent once you pass their guard.  To pin them, stay in mount, or control their back, you need to control their hips.  Your opponent needs to use their hips to escape side, mount, and back.

To escape side control, your opponent will lift their hips and shrimp to create space to retain guard.  To escape mount, they will lift their hips with a bridge and bump you over, or they will shrimp, or turn their hips to get half guard.  To escape back control, your opponent will lift their hips to get their shoulders to the mat.  We need to be able to control our opponent’s hips once we’ve passed the guard.

Many people get complacent after passing the guard, but that is only half the battle, you must be able to maintain side, mount, or back control. Check out this video of Demian Maia showing how to properly maintain mount.

Hip Control and Movement for Guard

Hip control and hip movement may be the most important details to becoming a good guard player.  To apply sweeps, submissions, and retain your guard, you must have good hip movement. Everything from guard starts with the hips.

The hips will allow you to escape bad positions, change angles, and use leverage to sweep and submit your opponent.  Having good hip movement will be one of the most important things you learn in bjj.  A big part of beating good hip movement is controlling the hips while passing.  Check out our article “The Benefits of Smash Passing” for some details. 

When playing guard, you also must be able to control your opponent’s hips in order to sweep or submit them.  The more you can lift their hip and move yours to creat angles, the better your attacks will be.  Check out this awesome sweep from deep half and see how he utilizes hip control.

Hip Control for Passing

Hip control is also an extremely important element of guard passing.  Although it is not as important to have hip control while passing as it is playing guard, it is still one of, if not, the most important details.  Some people have a more elusive passing game that is timing bases, and others have a pressure game that controls the head, body and hips.

Hip control will allow you to become a better passer no matter what your passing style.  Even if you pass standing, you will find that many of the standing passes maneuver the hip to allow you to pass. For instance, the leg drag is an extremely popular pass. The leg drag utilizes so much hip control and that is what makes it such a dominating pass. If you want to learn more on pressure based passing, check out our article “Technical Pressure Passing.”  As a bonus, check out this “Folding Pass” below that is all about controlling the hips.  This is one of the best passes in bjj.

If you’d like to expand your arsenal of passing and implement hip control to do so, check out 7x Brazilian National Champion, Fernando Reis 4 DVD set “The Folding System.”  This can be a great resource for beating those flexible guard players and learning the concepts of hip control for passing the guard.


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