Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly adaptable Martial Art, which consists of various technical components. The systematic ground fighting art is comprised of complicated bjj transitions, high impact takedown maneuvers, specifically designed control positions, and a calculated series of submission holds, like chokes and joint locks. There are many different aspects in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that students can master, as the art has similarities to high end educational degrees. Some athletes are well rounded, and are good at all aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, while others seem to major in certain aspects like takedown maneuvers, passing the guard, or being a guard player. Students can become masterful at BJJ even if they are specifically a guard player, but for a more comprehensive success story, the all round athlete is what is needed for perfection.
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Some athletes have incredible speed, and agility, and will use this to transition around an opponent in search of control, and submissions. Other athletes are slower, but have a greater amount of strength, which will allow them to man handle their opponents, rather than using speed, and movement. Other athletes use good pressure, and body posture as a way of neutralising their opponents, and this is one of the best ways that a student can break down their opponent in search of winning a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu match. Becoming a good BJJ practitioner begins with passing the guard, because a student that can become masterful at this aspect will reap many of the benefits attached with grappling. Learning how to use the correct body pressure, and body angles is a great way to subdue, and manipulate an opponent's body structure in order to keep them trapped, which in turn will make them more submittable.
WHY IS PRESSURE IMPORTANT IN BJJ
Using pressure in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most important aspects within the art. Pressuring an opponent will help to slow them down, while draining their energy at the same time. Using pressure is how all BJJ techniques are executed, because all an opponent needs to escape submissions or control positions is space. Taking away an opponent's space is the best way to maximise their chances at neutralising any control position. This is an extremely important aspect of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, because all submissions are executed after a position has been controlled. In competition control positions are worth points so this becomes imperative for a student to maximise their pressure efficiency.
Most jiu jitsu rolls inside of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy incorporate heavy pressure from one student to another. This can be the makeup of some athletes' entire Jiu Jitsu game style, as others will struggle with how to apply pressure to their opponents. All students of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu must learn how to use their weight efficiently, not just to tire out their opponents, but so they can take a rest period during the middle of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu match. There are some submissions that are used in which a student needs to apply significant amounts of pressure like the scarf hold pressure tap, or a basic knee on belly position, where students are sometimes forced to submit. Understanding how pressure works, and how to apply it to their opponent without using too much strength is an art form in itself, and something that all students must become highly capable of doing.
HOW TO APPLY PRESSURE
There are many different ways to apply pressure to an opponent during grappling matches. There are different components like short base, and long base especially in side control, and these all depend on how an opponent is reacting to the control position. It is important to try not to use too much strength when applying pressure, instead using body positioning, and the power through their core, and out through their toes into the mat. Pressure can also come from positions like knee on belly, as the shin is driven into the sternum of an opponent while cupping the back of the elbow, and lifting their weight up into the pressure of the knee. Pressure is also used during the guard process, as an athlete will need a significant squeeze with their thighs to hold a guard passer in place. This is the same concept for when a top game player tries to pass their opponents guard, they need to apply pressure and balance at the same time, as they are attempting to pass. Too much pressure with no balance will result in an athlete losing their balance, therefore giving a significant ability for their opponent to maximise their sweep game.
There are many other positions where pressure comes into play like when an athlete uses bjj inversion to attempt to enter the leg entanglement game. Using pressure by pushing an opponent's ankles up towards their head, and applying the pressure, will inevitably force an athlete trying to invert to abort, so they do not risk injury. Athletes should also learn when to use head pressure, as this can come into play especially for a guard passer, as they are trying to stifle a guard player. Using their head and pushing pressure up under the chin, or into the side of an opponent's face will help to cause different reactions from their opponent, which results in an athlete passing the guard. There is also significant pressure to be used in all choke holds, as an athlete must work on their squeezing power within their biceps, and triceps, as well as their core muscles, so they can execute different choke holds. Nowadays opponents are incredibly strong due to their strength and conditioning regimes, meaning an athlete needs to work on significant pressure within their chokes to be able to execute them effectively.
HOW TO ALLEVIATE PRESSURE
Playing guard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be a really effective way to defeat an opponent. But with this highly innovative way to grapple, comes elements of danger. Playing guard means that an opponent is on top, which allows them to apply significant amounts of pressure downwards into an opponent. This can be quite troublesome, as sometimes playing tricky kinds of guards can allow an opponent to use their pressure to easily pass the guard. There are ways however to stifle a pressure player, and learn to alleviate the force they are using to keep the athlete grounded. A concept that athletes need to learn when they are playing guard is framing, and this means to use their forearms, and their knees as a shield to prevent their opponents from applying pressure. Although this may not always work because some opponents will use innovation to bypass the frame, the concept of framing is still vital for a guard player so they can execute ways to escape from their opponents.
Using a knee shield is a great way to alleviate pressure from an opponent, and at the same time adding skeletal strength within their arms, as the frames can redirect the pressure an opponent gives towards an athlete. This is why a lot of guard players execute different leg lock entanglement positions like the 50/50 guard, or the truck bjj position, so they can bypass any pressure that a guard passer will give them from the beginning. One of the biggest aspects of alleviating pressure is knowing how to get off of their back, and onto their side. This simple concept of turning to their side will allow them to frame easier, and begin the process of escaping, or even rolling out into a turtle position. To alleviate pressure an athlete must think about how the pressure is applied, and this means that commonly a pressure player will apply their pressure to a certain part of an athlete's body, which can make it easier for the athlete to then redirect their pressure towards the mat. This will help an athlete escape the position, and ultimately gain back the advantage over their opponent.
DOES PRESSURE MEAN STRENGTH
There is a common misconception between pressure and strength, as some athletes will be told to use their pressure on their opponent, but instead try to use all of their muscle power. Using all of their strength will only tire out an athlete, as the lactic acid will build up in their muscles. Strength does not equal pressure in a long term sense. Using heavy amounts of strength will subdue an opponent, but if the opponent weathers the storm, and frames the right way they will be conserving more energy than an athlete that is applying too much strength. Using the correct amount of pressure is when an athlete that is more relaxed is able to use their weight efficiently, whilst still maintaining their balance for a more effective control position. It is important to practise maintaining pressure against an opponent inside of their training academy, as this can become really important in a competitive sense.
Getting stronger in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become extremely important in the modern competitive format. The one problem that athletes will face is that once they begin to accumulate a significant amount of strength, it becomes extremely hard not to use it while they are rolling inside an academy, or on the competition mats. There is no real trick to using pressure over strength, as athletes just need to calm themself down, and learn how to become like a wet blanket. This means dropping their weight into their opponent, and saving their strength for when it is needed. Strength should only be used at the end of a technical movement when more pressure needs to be applied into a submission maneuver. The only other time that strength should be used is when all technical options have been used, and the athlete needs to use strength in order to escape the clutches of their opponent. These are all concepts that athletes will learn overtime, as all they will really need is consistency on the mats, the ability to learn, and the perseverance to keep going.
BECOMING A TOP GAME SPECIALIST
Being a guard player has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately it can be a hard choice to make. A guard player will always be straight underneath a heavier opponent, which will put significant amounts of pressure on the athlete. They are also in constant danger of injuring themselves, as well as injuring their opponents as they attempt leglock entanglements, or bjj reaping. Traditional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more about the top game than being a guard player. An athlete that learns how to pass the guard while using pressure, is on their way to a more comprehensive game style within the Martial Art. Even though being a guard player has its perks, and multiple ways to submit, and sweep their opponents, there is more that can be utilised in being a top game specialist.
There are more advantages with being a top game player, as not only are there more opportunities to score points, they are ultimately using less amounts of energy. If the top game specialist masters their craft, then using significant body pressure takes little energy at all. Understanding how to transition from passing a guard into a knee on belly, side control, or mount can be a deadly weapon against a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu opponent. Everything that can be done from the guard position can be done as a top game player, and even more as an athlete that is on top of an opponent can add a lot of downward force into the mats, and this creates more pounds of pressure. There is also the added concept of self defense, and striking, as a top game specialist has the opportunity to land ground and pound strikes to an opponent, whether this is in Mixed Martial Arts competition, or in a real life street altercation. Becoming masterful at using pressure as a top game specialist, is a crucial part of becoming high level in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Utilising the top game against an opponent allows an athlete to bait their opponent in better ways than a guard player can. When a guard player is trying to move, there is basically 360 degrees of movement for the top game specialist. When the situation is reversed, the athlete that is on top can create spaces for the guard player to move into, which can assist the athlete in baiting them into different positions, or submission attacks. The fact that a top game player can also just use brutal grinding pressure on a grounded opponent, this can force the guard player to give up their arms, or give up their back. This will result in a top game player creating more advantage, and giving them a greater chance of winning the match. This is even more true in an open weight match, or an absolute match, where they might weigh significantly less than the top game player. This will give the athlete a higher ability of applying more definitive pressure on their opponent.
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