One of the most important factors in creating space on bottom is how well you can use your hips. Sure, you need to have good frames and basic position but when it comes time to move and make the space you need to escape then the hips are where it’s at.
Of course, I’m sure you’ve heard all of this before. It doesn’t take long training BJJ before you start to hear “use your hips” and “create space” nearly every class.
However, a lot of people starting BJJ don’t know how to use the hips properly when drilling and rolling. This results in a lot of bad Bridging and Shrimping as people use their lower backs too much and don’t use their glutes enough.
The glutes, a.k.a. your butt muscles, are some of the strongest muscles in your body and, when combined with the hamstrings to extend the hips, contribute to the strongest movement your body can make. When you learn how to use your glutes properly when Bridging and Shrimping it is a lot easier to create the space you need to get out of a bad position on the bottom.
The truth is that as good as rolling and drilling is for your BJJ game, it can be tough to re-train the glutes to help drive your Bridging and Shrimping on the mats. This makes it important for anyone serious about their ability to create space on the bottom to use specific exercises to help re-train and strengthen this movement.
And while there are a lot of great exercises to work the hips (like the deadlift and swing) 3 of the best BJJ specific exercises are simple Bridging exercises. These 3 exercises will give you the chance to build the specific mind-muscle connection needed to use your hips in a more BJJ specific way.
In this video, I go over the Bridge, the Marching Bridge and the Single Leg Bridge, giving you some tips on how to do them more effectively for our purposes on the mats. Just like when you drill, mindless reps get you nowhere so knowing what to focus on while doing an exercise can make all the difference in the world.
I also wanted to share this video I shot of me practicing my Side Control Escapes. You can see how I need a strong Bridge to create space so I can finish with a good Shrimping motion to start recovering.
Working on my Side Control escapes today at drill class. Paying close attention to getting the far hand in their armpit and using the elbow to lift when I bridge to clear the cross-face. Thanks to @lovatojrbjj for these details in his Escapes DVD set and to the lovely @shilonzsmama for being my partner for the video.
By using these exercises and the focal points I go over in the video you’ll find that you will be able to more easily create space and escape from the bottom. While the best defense is always to not get there in the first place, being able to effectively deal with getting smashed is an important part of building your game.
While nothing can replace good technique and time on the mats, using the right exercises with the right focus can speed up your development on the mats. Hopefully you’ll find these 3 exercises as helpful as I have, be sure to let me know if you have any questions on this or other topics you’d like to see me cover.
Until next time…
BJJ Strength Training Systems
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