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Why Tom DeBlass Thinks You Need to Frame from the Top
The importance of framing in BJJ cannot be overstated. Understanding how to properly apply frames can literally save one's life in a self defense scenario by creating the necessary space and distance from an attacker to allow for an escape or a defensive counter to whatever is happening.
One of the best introductions to proper use of framing can be found in Tom DeBlass' first instructional with BJJ Fanatics, Half Domination. In that series, Tom repeatedly demonstrates the importance of using his top arm (when in half guard Tom is on his side with a top arm closest to his opponent and a bottom arm on the mat staying mindful of his opponent's abiilty to crossface) as a frame across the neck and upper chest area. By using that top arm across the top of the opponent's torso, one makes it highly unlikely the opponent will be able to pressure down on your with maximum pressure because of the discomfort caused by your frame.
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By effectively using this frame in conjunction with his knee shield, he is able to create the necessary space to escape, recover guard or lay traps for his opponent by removing these elements and allow them to close the distance and becoming vulnerable to reversal attempts. The frame is key to the success of the half guard game for Tom DeBlass.
In the video below, Tom flips the script on us and talks about his use of the frame from the top. Check it out and then let's break down a few key points:
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In previous discussions of framing, the act of using the top arm to frame in half guard for instance is a defensive posture. One of DeBlass' favorite BJJ tenets is that whenever you are being defensive, the goal is to create space, whereas when you're being offensive, you're goal is to try to eliminate space. In half guard when I'm framing, I'm trying to keep distance between myself and my opponent. My frame is purely defensive.
When looking at framing from the top as described in the video above, the frame becomes both offensive and defensive simultaneously. Almost an identical mirror image of the frame from the bottom, Tom's frame from the top both defends from the opponent's attempts to secure the underhook and also simultaneously takes away space by allowing him to pin his opponent to the mat using the frame across the throat.
This top frame also allows Tom to maintain inside position and not over-extend himself beyond where he needs to be to attack the guillotine from topside half guard which he demonstrates. The framing is also not limited to the arm across the upper torso and neck area. Tom also makes effective use of his arm on the hip of the opponent to keep control of their movement.
Framing is no longer simply a concept that can buy you time from the bottom. With proper application, your top game can become even more oppressive to your opponents, forcing them to allow your advancement to ever more dominating positions or allow you to set up submissions with ease.
For more from Tom DeBlass, check out his latest instructional Half Guard Domination 2.0 which builds on the best-selling Half Domination and will take your frames and your Half Guard game to new levels. Get it here from BJJ Fanatics!