Why The Use Of Pressure Is So Important In BJJ By Travis Stevens


How To Create Pressure In Jiu-Jitsu by Travis Stevens

It is very hard to control an opponent in jiu-jitsu, especially if you fight a superb grappler. Dominating ground fighting requires some hidden skills often referred to as Invisible Jiu Jitsu.

Travis Stevens, BJJ black belt and Judo Olympic silver medalist, thinks the secret lies in “the invisible jiu-jitsu that nobody sees but everybody feels”.  Click To Tweet

BJJ Pressure Concept

In the intro for the first tip, Tavis Stevens refers to the story about a fighter who weighs 145 lbs but feels and controls the position like his weight was 350 lbs.  

Travis believes side control is an excellent position of control where you are able to maintain the dominant position and think about what to do next. 

However, he comments that staying in this position doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll block the fighter’s ground transitions and escape attempts. He refers to the concept of creating “active pressure and control of the partner”. 

Tavis Stevens states you should be able to contain the partner and use the pressure effectively. As an example, he uses side control to explain his concept. Travis uses his lower hand to block the hip and prevent the opponent from coming back while in side control and utilizes his upper limb to control the top shoulder. 

This kind of movement creates a box-like structure against your partner. Travis creates pressure from the expansion of his chest when he pulls his shoulders back. His Hands remain in the current position while the chest is moved forward as much as possible. This simple maneuver allows an extra amount of pressure (invisible Jiu Jitsu). 

If the partner pushes up, Stevens actively pushes his chest down towards the partner’s lungs as hard as possible to prevent the transition attempt. Travis Stevens also says “big chest” are created when scapulas are moved back at the same time.

When the partner tries to move to the side, Stevens uses the lower arm to block the movement attempt and keep him steady at one spot. If the opponent goes to the right, for example, more pressure to his chest and to your right side will stop him from the successful sweep. 

Important note: Sprawling your legs is a critical mistake because you’ll create space for an escape when the opponent starts rotating. It means he’ll slip away and you won’t be in a dominant position anymore. Then you must fight your way back to side control, which might turn into a nightmare, especially if you meet someone who knows how to use knees to defend himself. 

Remember, your knees are in, one knee blocks the hip, while another one blocks the opponent’s shoulder and any kind of movement. 

What is the greatest advantage of your knee and arm on the hip? You can easily transit to north-south position and secure a side control position on the other side. It means the partner would have a hard time defending your transitions. 

Important Tip: You can literally block him all the time while you use the “big chest” concept.

Additional SideControl Pressure

There is another possibility to be heavier in the side control position, and it happens when your hips are switched, and you are looking to step over for the choke or a submission attempt. 

The lower hand remains in the same position as discussed above, controlling the hip, but you must open your ribs.  

The opponent on the top must actively lean, pushing the ribs down to close the distance and trap the partner on the bottom. To create this pressure, one must switch their hips and post with the opposite leg to create leverage from the ground to create that invisible pressure on the opponent.

When your ribs are pulled down, your partner will have a hard time breathing.  

Stevens also says it is very important to bring the ribs as close to the elbows as possible and no the other way around where the elbow goes to your ribs. It is as if you are screwing your position into the ground from the top side control position while staying heavy with your body at the same time.  

Sub positions – Knee Cut

Using the concept of off-balancing by being heavy in the Knee cut position is a fantastic example of this.  

Here is a critical problem – every time your partner tries to lift you, your hips will come up. This is a beneficial position of control for the person on the bottom. For the top play to maintain a dominant position he/she must prevent that! To do so make sure you lift your other leg in the air to stay heavy every time the opponent tries to lift you in the air.

If you hear the foot hitting the mat, you did a bad job, because this means you transferred some of your weight to that side. For example, when you are at the opponent’s left side, lean to the right and pick your leg up. 

Passing the guard with the knee slice. Your main goal to accomplish this is always moving back towards the partner’s feet trying to open up his hips. It will allow you to slide through and end up in a side control position over and over. 

When an opponent’s knees are pointed towards his chest, it means he is in a great spot. Use your hand to keep his shoulder where it is. 

Use your body to open up, replace it with your knee, and pass his guard.  

Passing From Close Side

Keep your left hand on the opponent’s left shoulder, while your knees press the adductor muscles of a partner’s left leg. Walk backward rotating your right leg clockwise to open the knee up, and then just slide through as soon as you see the space. 

Note: When attempted the Knee Slice Don’t get anxious and drive too high from this position, as the opponent might grab your leg and perform a successful transition.  Click To Tweet

You need to focus on distance. It means you must watch carefully at the distance between partner’s knee and shoulder. If the two are too close that means a disaster for the person on top as it improves the defensive ability of the opponent on the bottom. 

To prevent this from happening, take your knee and back it up. When the gap is created, push your knee to the floor and slide that hip through.  

Add this concept of Invisible Jiu Jitsu to your game. Pressure is a key concept that offers control and dominance to the BJJ practitioner. Drill these comments and let us know your thoughts?

Published in BJJ Blog

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