Friday, July 22, 2011

Bad Posture!!!

Your coach, instructor, your teammate, your own mind will tell you to maintain good posture. It's not even in the back of your mind, it's at the front of your mind. And what happens? You break posture. What belt are you? You could be belt color and this can happen. More seldom at higher belts but if it never happened at higher belts, there would never be any sweeps or finishes at higher belts either.

So even when we know better, why do we have such "bad" posture? Meaning, bending over? Because we want to grab or control something. And when we reach with our hands, we bend our back. There it is. The secret to all this mess. You know to keep posture, yet you also know you need to control grips, so how do you marry the two ideas? Normally people don't. They normally take turns vacillating from one idea to the other. Controlling grips and breaking their own posture, to weakening their grips or letting to completely and regaining posture.

This happens a lot in BJJ, the seemingly contradictory concepts we are supposed to maintain at the same time. This being one of them, there are plenty of others, I will cover them as they come up in future blogs.

For now, control and posture. My arms are only so long, how the hell am I supposed to get a hold of him, or control him so I don't get swept or submitted without breaking my posture? How am I supposed to ever win this fight if all I do is posture? They don't work together and you feel like you have learned nothing in BJJ and that you must suck at this stuff.

Bad posture is sort of a plague with modern BJJ and it's one of the reasons so many old timers complain about how the art is not as good as it was before, or is being diluted. And the proper techniques are now invisible. Well if they were just a little bit better at explaining it or their English was a little better, maybe it wouldn't seem so invisible to us, this connecting of concepts.

Bad posture doesn't just happen in BJJ, it's something you carry with you throughout the day, throughout your life. A bad habit that was passed down from your parents and parent's parents. Why? Because we humans walk on two feet. This frees up our hands so we can grab things, such as tools or open doors, or pick something up. So because of this ability, we tend to lead with our arms. So we slouch, have poor posture because we are always reaching for things in front of us, pulling ourselves forward, where even standing upright, we look slouched and now are starting to look un-evolved like an ape again.

What should we be doing? Instead of reaching far for something, walk closer to it and get it. We need to pick something up from the ground, what do we do? We bend over and reach with our backs, instead of using our legs to kneel down, bringing us closer to the object, allowing us to pick it up with greater power.

If we are trying to pull something, what do we do? We pull with our arms instead of gripping it with our arms and using our legs, hips, back, and our whole body weight to pull it. Thing of your hands as hooks, arms as chains, your body as the tow truck.

So back to the dilemma of constantly breaking your own posture to get grips and feeling like you are not improving. What should you be doing? Leading with your hips and legs like I said in a previous post. What else? You should be bending your legs to get lower, or dropping your weight on them and planking to get heavy. Instead of trying to shove them down with just your arm strength and hunching over.

Get your position first, then get your grips. Grips are there to help positioning. Don't get your grips to get your positioning, Don't use positioning to help grips. Imaging trying to pull yourself up a flight of stairs using your arms on the banister, as opposed to walking up the steps and using the banister for balance.

If something is on the ground like I said, what should you be doing? You lower yourself to that object, in this instance your opponent. What happens if you reach and bend over? Well half of your body is still far away from the object, meaning everything from the waist down is still where they are, and the other upper half has lowered itself. So half your weight is where it was, half your weight is now bending down and being pulled by gravity. If you were a building, you would have toppled over by now. A vertical angle is easy to maintain, a broken angle that bends any degree down is hard to maintain. And also, you can only pull or use the strength of half your body, the other half is using all its strength to keep yourself upright. Lower your whole body, maintaining posture, and use the might of your whole body, upper AND lower half. Bring yourself, your whole self closer to the thing you are reaching for, not just part of your body. Otherwise that half is gonna gonna down and the other half is coming with it. It's like splitting up your army into two battle fields, when your enemy is only occupying one.

If you were climbing a tree, which is very similar to BJJ, the best way to waste energy is to grab a branch and do a pull up, then set your feet. It's way more efficient to climb up the tree as high as you can first with your feet, then set your grips on a branch, climb up the tree some more with your legs, then set your hands on the next branch. Walking up the tree instead of doing a series of pull ups, up the tree. Look at monkeys, they use their legs and walk all the way up, using the hands as anchors.

Hands are hooks, arms are chains, your body is the tow truck. So think about that before you break your own posture, don't REACH with your hands, LEAD with your hips and legs, don't worry about setting your grips they have no way to escape your grips.

Get close to your opponent, remember you want to be tight. Meaning walk up to them as close as possible, squat down if you have to. The worst thing you can do is be far away and bending over. You are mechanically weak there, vulnerable, have your worst balance, and also you are now allowing your opponent to get grips on you! When all this time you wanted grips on them.

How do you marry grips and posture? Get grips last, position and posture first. That order will make you better than you are. Do it the opposite order and you will look a lot worse than you are and not in a good position to show how good of a finisher you are.

What will happen if you never fix this inefficiency? You will try to use speed, arm strength, acrobatics, or some combination of all three. Or if you are passing, you may just give up on learning how to pass and dive for crappy footlocks that you are not good at, because even footlocks need good posture.

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