Thursday, August 2, 2012

“Ball” BJJ

The best techniques are the ones that you can apply in many different situations.  X-guard is cool, but I’m not going to transition to X-guard when I have someone in full guard or when I have someone’s back.

The most important techniques I look upon more as theories instead of actual moves that take  you from step A to step B.  I think a lot of times people (myself included) tend to place too much emphasis on the sequence of steps in a technique instead of focusing on the concept and mechanics behind how or why the technique actually works.  We expend a lot of energy trying to force a move or the steps that make up a certain technique when it really isn't there and then we get frustrated when we can't execute it properly.    

Over the years, I have also noticed that the most important techniques I have learned are always the most simple.  I’m always amazed when I ask my instructor a question about something I have been having trouble with in training and he replies with, “Oh, just move your leg to the left” or “Place your hand here next time”.

One of the most important things my instructor has taught me is the theory of “Ball“ jiu-jitsu.  All this means is that my opponent and I are like two balls.  If we run into each other, we will just bounce off one another.  However, if I can break my opponent's ball (flatten out his torso or legs) and keep my ball, I will be able to advance.  If my opponent breaks my ball first he will advance.  If we are both unable to break each other's ball, then most likely nothing will happen.    

I am always thinking about staying in a ball; my body is bent at the waist, legs tucked close to my body, lower legs folded.  My back is always arched, with my arms close to my sides making sure to not fully extend my arms (unless the situation calls for it).

It may sound easy, but it's not.  You have to actually condition your body to naturally form to this position when you are rolling.  I've spent a lot of time walking back and forth crouched, sometimes with a belt placed on my pelvis to make sure I am bent over enough and doing it correctly.  If you are not used to this, after about two minutes your body starts to ache and you want to quit.

To break my opponent's ball I am always thinking about controlling his upper body or lower body and then stopping his hips from moving; another simple concept that is vital.

I can apply this theory everywhere:  guard, guard passing, half guard, back, DLR,  X-guard, etc.  It may sound silly, but the moment I really started to understand the theory behind the word “ball” my BJJ  improved ten fold.    


  1. Excellent post. You have articulated some of the random BJJ thoughts I've had in my head lately.

  2. That's one of the hardest things about writing this blog. I have to take all of these ideas (about BJJ)that I have in my head and try to make them coherent. I have a few entries that I never finished, because I couldn't quite get the thoughts out right.

    I'm very glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!