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When it comes to Jiu-Jitsu, what is the most important thing you should know? Obviously, it’s what kind of Gi to wear right? Joking aside, this is one of those questions that is open for debate. After studying, training and applying BJJ for almost 15 years, I’ve found one thing to stand out among everything else that deserves quite a bit of attention and dedication to understanding. Alignment.

So what makes up “Alignment”? BJJ Black Belt Rob Biernacki, from Island Top Team, states it’s a combination of common words within BJJ: Base, Posture & Structure. Let’s look at each one as he describes them.

Base is any platform from which to apply and absorb force. A platform can be the mat, a wall, your opponent, etc. When on your knee(s) you need to have an understanding of “live toes” vs “dead toes” in order to apply pressure, or force, against your opponent. Over all, your base must have good weight distribution.

Posture, or “correct posture”, is simply proper spinal alignment. Bad posture basically means a twisted and/or bent spinal alignment, which is obviously weaker. You wouldn’t perform heavy squats or deadlifts with a bent or twisted spinal column, right? Doing it in Jiu-Jitsu produces similar results. Then there is the Kinetic Linking Concept, or Kinetic Chain, where connecting the body’s muscles/bones together generates better force production. Ever try to push on something heavy, such as a car, with only your arms and not your entire body. Linking your entire body together vs only one part improves results.

Finally, there is Structure, or the most efficient way to utilize the limbs on your body. Simply put, can you do more push-ups when your arms are flared away from your torso, or when they are near it? Food for thought.

Base, Posture and Structure come together to create what’s called Alignment, which is used in every action or reaction in Jiu-Jitsu, or really in any physical endeavor. Only mat time will help the student learn, understand and improve on these principles, but a tell-tale sign of “bad alignment” is when someone is mechanically struggling when applying a movement or technique. Watching video of yourself when rolling will assist you in making self-corrections to this most important thing in Jiu-Jitsu.

Learn. Drill. Roll. TRANSFORM!

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