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Jen >> Science of BJJ article Part 3


3/8/09 4:40 PM
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Bolo
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Edited: 03/08/09 4:41 PM
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PART III

RANDOM VARIABILITY

When learning certain techniques, it is often taught that the most leverage can be gained from placing a part of one's body on a very specific and exact location on the opponent's body. Students often do countless repetitions in order to build muscle memory in an attempt to ingrain the fine detail they were taught. However, it is extremely common that once the student attempts to do the technique on a different partner, and possibly not even in live action, placement on that exact spot required significantly more attributes to produce a result. This is even despite the fact that the student was sure he applied force on the exact spot on which he had already done countless effortless repetitions with the previous partner. While there may be numerous reasons for why this may have happened, one commonly overlooked reason is related to postural alignment.

When training with different partners, it is extremely common that no two individuals will position every minute aspect of their body in the exact identical manner. The slight variances between partners is something that may not be intentional, but a result of random variability of life and humans themselves. Later, when full resistance is applied, the variances become even greater. Though it may seem that a different partner may generally be in the same position as a previous partner, how to react and where precisely to apply force on him is based on precisely (not generally) where every aspect of his body is and what it is doing. So, if a different partner's body position changed in certain areas by an inch, that would change how the student should position certain parts of his own body in relation to that partner.

The reason why many students struggle as soon as they practice the same technique on different partners is because their focus is on where to make contact with their opponent rather than what is biomechanically the strongest for themselves. For example, with one partner, being aligned may mean that you push on his knee. However, with a different partner who may have positioned his body ever so slightly different, being aligned may mean pushing on the middle of his thigh. This means focusing on the knee with this different partner would result in misalignment of the bodyof the person applying the technique resulting in a need for greater effort to complete.

The positioning of every aspect of your body should be based on what is biomechancially the strongest for you 100% of the time. Proper alignment of your body when doing a technique has everything to do with how you position your body, not what apart of your opponent's body you think you should make contact with. A simple way to think of this is "align your body properly, putting it in the strongest position possible, and whatever you happen to touch is whatever you happen to touch."
3/21/09 12:14 PM
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wck
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Bolo,

If I align my body in the strongest possible position to, let's say, push, don't you think it makes a difference whether I push into where my partner is strong or where he is weak? It seems to me that even a really good lever applied to the wrong spot won't get good results. Or, am I misunderstanding you?
3/22/09 2:05 AM
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Bolo
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When you are in the strongest biomechanical position possible, where you happen to push will automatically be the most optimal stop. That's the beauty of it. If you feel if you are pushing on the "wrong" spot, what is actually wrong is YOUR body. Wrong body positioning will lead to pushing on the wrong spot.

When you begin to understand these principles, you will begin to understand that these principles hold precedence over all other principles. So if, you have been taught that pushing or pulling on certain parts of the body gives you more "leverage", that is not an idea that supercedes the principles that I have stated.

For example, many of us have been told that when someone is protecting/hugging their own arms when in the armbar, we need to pull at the top (near the wrist/hand) somehow in order to straighten the arm and that pulling the arm at the elbow gives you less leverage. This is only true in a certain instances, mainly in situations when you have not destroyed many of the 90 degree angles in their person's body. I can think of a couple instances in which if you destroy enough 90 degree angles, you can straighten your opponent's arm from hooking at the elbow, in addition to the fact that hooking at the wrist would put you in a weaker biomechnical position and make it more difficult to straighten their arm.
3/22/09 9:56 AM
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Trichoke7
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Edited: 03/22/09 9:56 AM
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 Bolo, what would be some examples of pulling on the wrist being poorer technique than pulling on the elbow? 
3/23/09 2:10 AM
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Bolo
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I don't really like to use the term "poorer technique". I would say there are some instances in which you would feel that it would feel biomechanically weaker in places like your low back to pull at the wrist.

The thing to understand is something I said in Part 2- "Because the human body is a system of levers, nothing happens in isolation. The body works as a unit. This means that in the event that the 90 degree angles are destroyed in one specific area, it effects the entire body. For the BJJ practitioner, this means you do not need to deal with a problem site specific."

When you are thinking about pulling at the wrist, you are dealing with the problem site specific. There's nothing wrong with that in certain instances. In other instances, if you think outside the box, you don't need to pull at the wrist because you have deviated other parts so far from their right angle function or destroyed so many right angles that the arm will simply have little strength. In addition, in those certain other instances, the more they resist, the more they increase the postural deviations on other parts of their body. Those deviations become so strong and uncomfortable that the most natural way to relieve that stress is for them to straighten their own arm.
4/1/09 1:35 AM
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Matt Jubera
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This is an interesting take on things. I think a common position to discuss would be posture in closed guard.

It is often taught that one hand could grab the lapels at the sternum (while the other hand could grab the sleeve, or put pressure at the hip, there are many variations). As the person on top, the angle from my arm to my body depends on the height and body proportions of my partner.

Maybe a 45 degree angle would be the strongest biomechanically, but against a tall opponent then that might place my hands in his abs allowing him to sit up and put pressure on my wrist.
4/3/09 11:54 PM
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le0nidis
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Definitely an eye opening experience. Got to experience and see this in action. It was truly a thing of beauty, and I could only shake my head in amazement as Bolo whooped our arses in class the other night.
4/4/09 12:28 AM
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Bolo
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Well, with le0nidis, I was testing out something that I had figured out in regards to uncrossing someone's ankles when in the closed guard. I was basically putting a very subtle deviation into his legs and hips, so when I pushed his knee or ankle down, his legs popped open quite effortlessly. He couldn't understand why his legs would open so easily as he thought his legs must have been really weak that night. I later explained how I had put a deviation in his body and he just didn't realize it.

I've been really re-thinking a lot about opening the closed guard and how to beat my own posture breaking system. I really had to start from scratch and think about this task with a clean slate. I still have to experiment on more people, but it's been working good so far.

I find that there are 2 main methods to open the legs. First way is what I call "the crowbar method". Basically, there is no deviation in the opponent's body and you are basically prying their legs open like a crowbar. This method tends to work better with the gi because the person in the guard can compensate for the guard players mechanically strong position by gripping the gi and belt. However, this is also why we often see people have so much trouble opening their opponent's legs no gi as there is no way to compensate anymore.

The second method is "the deviation method". That is one which creates a postural deviation in the opponent's body. With this type of method, I find that it tends to take less effort to uncross because the legs are weakened by the postural deviation.
4/4/09 8:16 AM
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Trichoke7
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 What's postural deviation do you use?
4/4/09 12:40 PM
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Bolo
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I put a little bit of hip elevation (I don't mean lifting their hips off the ground, but in the postural analysis sense of the term) on one side. The positioning then made them feel like their legs were uneven when trying to keep their ankles crossed. The basic closed guard position is one in which the person on bottom feels that his body is fairly bilateral when holding the position. I am basically making their body, especially their lower body since that is what is holding me, unilateral right away.

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