When it comes to utilizing your Jiu-Jitsu effectively, nothing is better than understanding distance management. A huge mantra for the Gracie Academy out of Torrence, California is “Control the distance, control the fight.”
You should dictate how close you are to an opponent, or how close you let them get to you. Not the other way around. Gauging distance is a balance between being safe and being able to attack at will. Two of the best positions to minimize damage in a fight is on the outside, away from the opponent, or clinched up with the opponent, with your limbs wrapped around them in some fashion.
A good rule of thumb is if you can touch the opponent, then it’s more than likely that you have good distance to attack them. However, be aware that if you can attack them, then they can more than likely attack you as well. This is where timing comes in.
Timing works hand-in-hand with distance management. Without good timing your distance management can get off track. If you fail to maintain control of the distance between you and your opponent, it can adversely affect how your techniques work against them. Truly understanding this concept can only be enhanced through continuous drilling to work out the kinks in your technique, and then working to apply those same techniques in live rolling or sparring.
Great ways to control the distance are through your stances and body movements when standing, and positioning and gripping when clinching up or on the ground. Good control points on your opponent are the head, neck, upper arms, hips and leg joints. If they’re wearing a gi, gripping anywhere on the collar, sleeves and/or pant legs offer optimum control. Plus, don’t forget to utilize your legs in order to maximize, minimize or control space relevant to your opponent when you’re in the heat of battle.
Remember, when you control the distance, you control the fight.
Learn. Drill. Roll. TRANSFORM!