Oh, boy! Where do I start? Last night’s BJJ seminar at Dartford BJJ with Gracie Barra black belt Marc Walder was supreme and absolutely jam-packed with technical know-how. Our club is privileged to be associated with Marc and we benefit immensely from his quarterly seminars.
Marc demonstrated core principles through a progression of techniques, unified by key themes:
1) balance, posture and grips are integral to successful positioning
2) hip movement and pressure is fundamental to moving between positions
3) positioning should allow for 50% offence and 50% defence
We worked through these concepts using variations of the standing guard pass (passing closed and spider guards) to end at side control or taking the back.
What was most pronounced for me was the fundamental importance of the hips. I have always been surprised by the importance of hip movement for both stand-up and ground work, and while hip movement and pressure may be generated differently in either context, it has always interested me that these two areas of work, on the surface polar opposites, share a great deal in common. I digress. Back to hips. In each progression of the pass, it was clear that keeping hips down and ‘glued’ to the opponent was a major component of successful technique. This will be a fairly obvious point to readers with BJJ/grappling experience, equally these readers will appreciate how difficult it is to achieve this ‘glue’ effect in practice. Not only was hip pressure emphasised, but also the use of hip movement for leverage rather than reliance strength in the limbs or back. As readers with takedown/throw experience will be aware, hip positioning and movement (coupled with appropriate posture, balance and grips) can allow the smaller person to lift much larger opponents with little discomfort. This principle of body mechanics can be applied to guard passing and, for instance, to clear a leg one can rely on forward hip movement and pressure rather than seeking to crudely control and clear the legs with hands.
Not only did we enjoy a seminar of intermediate level guard-tastic delights, we were also lucky enough to enjoy Marc’s tuition during our regular Wednesday night self-defence. I, personally, was proud to see Marc practicing one-on-one with the juniors with whom we share the self-defence class; that is exactly the attitude and sense of inclusion and love that keeps me coming back for more at Dartford BJJ and has me so chuffed to be part of the Marc Walder BJJ Team. A bit gushing, yes, but the cooperative nature of BJJ is a big part of its attraction for me, and I like that this component is emphasised in our club.
The seminar ended with a few exciting promotions and I am very pleased for the Academy’s new blue belts, well deserved as they are, and for the whites, blues, purples and browns who received fresh stripes. Well done people!