Recall the first three, foundational skills that need to be developed to dominate the neutral (standing) wrestling position…

  • Stance
  • Motion
  • Hand-fighting

Now let’s focus on how you should use these three skills to move your opponent…

First, consider how takedowns are often taught within BJJ classes. Most often we work most heavily on the shot, that is getting to the legs for a single- and double-leg.

I find this approach to be counter-productive…my suggestion would be to begin with a lot of stance, motion, and hand-fighting drills, since these are the set-ups for your level change and penetration.

How to make these three skills more effective? Forget all of the internal cueing—long explanations on where to place your hands, how to move your feet, where to position your head, etc., aren’t that helpful. Remember, your body doesn’t care what the coach says!

Instead, use external signals, which will give you a more distinct objective, and trust your body to self-organize while you work against a resting partner (think, immediate feedback!).

My favorite external cue when focusing on stance, motion, and hand-fighting with our athletes—MOVE YOUR OPPONENT!!!

In doing so, you might find the following actions naturally EMERGE while you grapple in the standing position:

  • Constant movement of the feet (~60 Hz) and across different directions
  • Every contact with your hands has an intention to off-balance
  • A stronger feeling of connection between your feet moving and your hands steering an opponent
  • Continually breaking your opponent’s posture, particularly downward, which will then develop into shots to the legs

If all else fails, remember this mantra for our initial three skills…HEAVY HANDS AND LIGHT FEET!!!

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