Balance in Jiu-Jitsu is very often an underrated skill among grapplers. Poor balance in Jiu-Jitsu can be a deciding factor in the outcome of a match. In fact, it very often is one. All those close fought matches resolved by a single sweep we so often see are all down to balance. OR, more precisely, the lack of balance in Jiu-Jitsu terms. So, let’s look at how balance affects BJJ along with some great ways to improve yours.
Balance in Jiu-Jitsu is the ability to remain upright in the face of a force acting in an opposite direction. This ability to resist going down translates int next level sweep defense capabilities. Wherever you find yourself when on top, you’ll need balance in order to stay there until you improve position, or finish. Very often, we take balance for granted. However, balance in Jiu-Jitsu needs to be a conscious ability. Instead, fo looking how to counter and defend sweeps, it’s better if you learn to anticipate them. In that sense, recognizing when your balance is in danger is the first step to becoming more stable on your feet.
Passing the guard is a skill that requires the most balance in Jiu-Jitsu. As such, Craig Jones is one who is really aware of the importance of balance. Use his DVD set “How To Pass Guards Quickly And Easily” to improve both your balance and your passing skills.
What Is Balance For Jiu-Jitsu
We all know what happens when our bodies lose balance. We fall down. But how exactly does balance for Jiu-jitsu work, in the first place? Well, it all starts with our body’s ability to coordinate. There are multiple systems in the human body that work together in order to maintain balance.
To begin with, the vestibule system is the one in charge of equilibrium. Simply put, this is all down to your inner ear and how good it is at recognizing changes in your surroundings. Following suit is the somatosensory system or the part of our nervous system tasked with figuring out how our body behaves in space. Finally, there’s the visual system, i.e. the eyes. Now, when all three of this work together seamlessly, you most likely have good balance, to begin with.
Balance for Jiu-Jitsu is where things get tricky. It’s one thing to maintain balance on a daily basis. It another to maintain it on a boat that’s violently rocking. And with Jiu-Jitsu, it is a completely different animal. You’re trying to stay in balance in some of the most awkward positions a human body can be in. As if that wasn’t enough, people are constantly trying to force you to topple over, using everything at their disposal to do so. This is where some specialized balance training can go a long way to making you notoriously difficult to sweep.
Training Balance For Jiu-Jitsu
So, in order to sweep someone, you need to disrupt their balance first and foremost. This is done by extending someone beyond their center of gravity. Once we’re outside of our base, going down is not very far away. You see, the further you are away from your center gravity, the easier it is to fall down. This is exactly what a knowledgeable partner is going to do when they attack your balance in Jiu-Jitsu.
In terms of preventing this, there are three bases to cover. First, you need to recognize your opponent’s attempts to get you out of balance. Next you need to make sure you can keep your center of gravity. The main method for this is maintaining good posture. Furthermore, you can look to directly counteract gravity by becoming stronger in certain specific areas. The posture and specific strength are highly trainable qualities. Recognizing when your opponents are attacking your balance in Jiu-Jitsu is down to experience and understanding of the game,
#1. Step Ups
This one is fairly easy. Use a box, stairs, or even an unstable surface for this exercise. Bosu balls or stability balls are the props of choice for unstable step ups. The idea is to step one leg on the elevated surface and use it to go all the way up. When you have full extensions, go down the same way. Now repeat on the other side. 10 reps per leg are the sweet spot.
Lunges are one of those exercises that are good for multiple different athletic qualities. Balance happens to be one of them. No matter which direction you’redoing them in, lunges are a great way to help you stay on your feet. Once again, you can use an unstable surface with the leg you’re working. It’s the same as step ups, only on a flat surface instead of an elevated one.
#3. Pistol Squats
Stay off the unstable surfaces for this one. As easy as they might look, you’re in for a surprise once you freest trey them. Start with the very basics and use progressions in order to achieve full pistol squats. They’re a magnificent tool for balance in Jiu-Jitsu and every grappler should be able to perform them, For the pistol squat, you start standing. Raise one of your legs straight in front of you, as close to hip level as possible. now go down all the way with your other leg, keeping the leg straight. three sets of ten are going to make you unsweepable.
#4. One Leg Jumps
This is where things get a bit more dynamic. Simple jumps are a great way to test your balance. Now, try doing them with one leg only and you’re really going to have to focus. As with pistol squats, unstable surfaces are not a great idea here, unless you’re really comfortable with jumping on the floor. Even then, make sure you’re careful and do not force things.
#5. Stability Ball Exercises
The stability ball is a favorite of many grapplers around the world. It is a frat tool to use for balance in Jiu-Jitsu, but remember to stay careful. Go slow and use common sense with this one.
First, go for learning how to balance on the ball. Start slow, with one leg on it at the beginning. Slowly progress to keeping both your knees and ultimately your arms on them all. When you can hold this position comfortable for a minute, you can think about moving to more difficult things. The next step is getting your torso upright and your hands on your hips or wide by your side. You can even play around with getting one leg on the foot.
Finally, the goal is to be able to stand on the ball without any assistance. Once that is easy for you, add in a squat. Once you have this mastered, your balance in Jiu-Jitsu si going to be second to none.
Finally here’s a very BJJ specific hint. Whenever you’re looking to improve your body’s coordination a good idea is to roll with your eyes closed. That the body needs input from at least two of the three systems that help control balance. When you block one (the eyes) it sharpens your awareness of the remaining two. Remember to be careful when doing this and only do it with experienced partners. Rolling wight your eyes closed against the academy’s spaz is never a good idea.