The Importance of Posture In BJJ & Martial Arts

In martial arts such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, good posture is essential for stability, balance and power. Maintaining good posture helps you stay centered and focused, while reducing the risk of injury.

Poor posture can lead to instability and a loss of power, making it much harder to execute techniques effectively.

The importance of proper posture for martial arts like BJJ

By keeping your spine in alignment, you'll be able to generate more strength and move with greater efficiency. So make sure to focus on your posture both in and out of the gym - it could make all the difference in your performance!

The Importance of Posture In Martial Arts

The importance of proper posture in martial arts is often underestimated. Posture, when properly understood and maintained, not only ensures that you are maximizing the power of your techniques, but can also save your life by allowing certain moves to be performed at full power without risking injury. Posture can also be used as a diagnostic tool to determine the quality of your martial art training.

What is Posture for Martial Arts

Posture is simply how you position your body as a whole to best prepare for the task at hand. Posture is not restricted to just your spine, but includes positioning of all body parts.

  • Posture is determined by the position of your pelvis, spine, head and neck.
  • Posture should be tall enough so you can maintain eye contact with an attacker, but relaxed enough to avoid tensing your muscles.
  • Posture is dynamic and changes as you move, making it important that you do not lock your joints.

Posture is strengthened over time with good martial arts training, so the initial goal should be to maintain a posture that allows you to perform your art at an optimal level. If your posture is compromised, it will limit your ability to move with confidence and fluidity, putting you at a disadvantage on the mat.

Practicing Proper Posture

Posture is not learned, it is earned through thousands of hours of BJJ training to perfect your martial art. Posture is also used in many martial arts movements to reinforce that your body is being moved from the correct place. Posture should be natural and organic, meaning that it is not forced, but rather automatically created by the movements of your body.

Avoiding Bad Situations

In addition, the necessity of protecting oneself from injury or even death requires participants to learn not only how to avoid submissions, but if necessary, how to 'tap out' (submit) and signal submission to the opponent.

Bad position in BJJ (Full Mount)

Bad position in BJJ (Full Mount)

Posture is important for athletes in Submission Wrestling.

Submission wrestling (also known as submission fighting, sport grappling or simply as No-Gi) is a term used to describe a collection of techniques and strategies that allow smaller and weaker individuals to successfully defend against larger opponents by using leverage and proper technique. 

Proper Posture In BJJ and Martial Arts

One of the most common problems for beginning Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners is their lack of knowledge concerning proper body positioning and posture.

Posture plays a huge role in the success or failure of any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique and often it will be the determining factor as to whether a technique is applied correctly and with maximum force or not, and whether it will result in a successful submission or not. If you want to improve your BJJ game, this is a concept worth learning about.

Battle for posture control between two Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes

Battle for posture control between two Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes

Controlling The Center: Posture In The Guard

The most important thing to remember is that you need to maintain good posture and keep their knees squeezed together. If they don't, then your opponent will be able to easily work around your guard and set up various submissions.

Controlling The Side: Posture In Side Control

“I believe in diving deep into a small pool of information. For instance when you learn a new move in jiu-jitsu. Learn something on one side of the body, learn it very deeply, then learn it on the other side when you’ve developed that deep feel.” ~ Josh Waitzkin (Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner)

The following diagram shows an example of proper posture in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (in this particular situation for side control setting up an Americana).

Side control (Americana)

Posture in back position (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)

The most advantageous position in No-Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu without doubt would have to be on your opponent's back where you are able to utilize both your legs and arms to hold them down.

BJJ Back Control

Proper Posture helps pass the guard (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)

In order to achieve back mount, however, one must first get past the guard position which is often the most difficult part of both gi and No-Gi Jiu Jitsu since there are so many different variations of guards that you will encounter.

One variation in particular is known as the 'closed guard', it's a common position in jiu-jitsu and an example of this can be seen in the following picture:

As you can see, although this person has closed his jiu-jitsu guard, he is leaving it slightly open by placing one of his legs on top of his opponent's thigh and not actually gripping him.

This is done intentionally so that he may switch positions by hooking one of his feet around his opponent's ankle when the time is right. Once you find yourself inside your opponent's closed guard, the first thing you want to do if possible is to grab both of his ankles and spread them enough for you to pass into a more dominant position.

BJJ Guard (Posture) ~ Submission Shark

BJJ purple belt using proper arm poster with his move.

This will force him to open up his thighs just enough so that you are able to slip in and out and gain side control. Note that it is always a good idea to be aware of counters such as sweeps when you are passing the guard. A strong posture helps prevent you from being off balance and falling into their trap. This can be a common mistake for BJJ students when rolling with higher ranked teammates like a brown belt or BJJ black belt.

Establishing posture in side control (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)

Once you have side control, there are many different ways to move into the mount position where you will be able to apply submissions and strikes more effectively.

As you can see, with the proper use of body weight and good posture, the person on top is able to apply pressure on their opponent causing them to fatigue by carrying their weight.

Limb Posture and Escapes (Creating Distance)

There will be scenarios in this martial art where you are training for more self defense situations or when you have to fight in MMA competition against better grapplers. If you watch professional fighters, you might notice a UFC fighter wanting to stand up to use their striking fight techniques to gain an advantage over jiu jitsu's superior grappling.

A BJJ black belt and higher ranked practitioners like purple belts will be aware of how distance control and proper posture can help them on the mat and against better stand up fighters. These two grapplers below demonstrate this concept

Creating Distance on the mats (Submission Shark)

Creating distance away from opponent (Submission Shark)

No-Gi BJJ and Posture

It should be noted that there are only a few truly legitimate submissions in No-Gi Jiu Jitsu (referring to those performed without the use of gi) since most other submission holds can be countered simply by grabbing the aggressor's clothing, which makes it virtually impossible to maintain any real tightness in one's grasp.

Also, due to the nature of No-Gi Jiu Jitsu being that of avoiding submission holds rather than enduring them, many submission holds are almost always pulled off with an explosive motion using speed and good hip movement (proper techniques) rather than from a position of pure strength.

That being said, knowing how to use proper body positioning and posture becomes even more important in No-Gi Jiu Jitsu since it will be much easier for your opponent to counter your technique if he is able to apply his weight effectively. You may not have the same grips available in no-gi but you can still use proper posture for stability like the image below.

Posting In BJJ

Using Grips To Control Posture

Using Grips To Control The Posture

Grips aren't as readily available as in gi BJJ as there is less material to grab, but hand fighting for control and techniques such as 'posting' can help you maintain a strong posture.

BJJ Guard (Posture) ~ Submission Shark
BJJ Guard (Posture) ~ Submission Shark

The Importance of Posture In Other Martial Arts

It's difficult to think of even one martial art where posture isn't important. It's especially important in grappling. For example, when in the Muay Thai clinch, breaking the posture to land knees can be devastating. Having the correct posture can be the difference between performing a perfect throw in judo.

Wrestling coaches will often emphasize the importance of posture, whether you are training catch wrestling, freestyle wrestling, Greco roman wrestling, shoot wrestling, many wrestlers will intuitively understand this when transitioning into submission wrestling. Experienced Jiu-jitsu practitioners will also develop strong posture.

Why Is Good Posture So Important in Combat Submission Wrestling?

A strong guard protects your face from being smashed and it protects your opponent from being submitted. Imagine two fighters who are in back mount with hooks, one of them is laying flat on their stomach and the other is up on their toes. Which one do you think will be able to breathe better?

Conversely, you can break an opponent's posture to gain better control. It's important for both the attacker and defender. Proper posture control is essential in submission fighting. As you grow through your jiu jitsu journey you will begin to understand the importance of this concept as a grappler.

3 Benefits of good posture in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu guard:

  • It protects your opponent from being submitted.
  • Helps stop your opponent from passing your guard or obtaining side control/full mount/back mount position.
  • Prevents you from getting punched in the face and potentially breaking a cheek bone, nose, or jaw (combat submission wrestling).

Better not let him posture up (BJJ Training)

Exercise awareness for this Brazilian jiu jitsu concept.

Now that you know what the benefits of good posture are for ground fighting grappling, try being aware of how your posture is while training BJJ in class, sparring with other Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes, in competition, or any other part of your life.

Next time you browse through a jiu-jitsu magazine or watch technique videos like the ones on BJJ fanatics or Youtube channels from BJJ world champions, try and see how these high-level grapplers utilize their posture to their advantage. Sometimes you don't need to learn the latest grappling techniques and tips. Many world class BJJ masters have won grappling tournaments with this simple concept.

I hope this information helps bring new perspectives and ideas to your journey of becoming a BJJ black belt. This is a practical action that you can do and train your mind to remember, even if you are lower ranked like a white belt or blue belt.

“You have to have a good base and posture." ~ Kurt Osiander (BJJ Instructor)

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The martial arts community

  • Stories from the BJJ community: Read More (Join the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community and see what you've been missing. Learn from jiu-jitsu practitioners from all levels ranging from white belts, to purple belt and even black belt.

If you’re an eternal white belt you only get better. The moment you believe you’re a master, your downfall is near. It’s like you’re closing yourself from new knowledge." ~ Rickson Gracie (Gracie Family)

Searching for more submission wrestling and BJJ help?

This guide can help you: Submission Wrestling 101: Tips & Techniques.

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