Posted on

1-B The Concept of Frames

Page Progress:

In jiu-jitsu, we spend a lot of time talking about using frames when we roll, but we rarely take the time to discuss what actually makes a frame powerful and useful. The sit-up escape uses a variety of frames–including some that may be alien to you–so if you can enter this process with an understanding of framing theory, you can skip a lot of the awkwardness that comes with learning a completely new technique.

To borrow a phrase my friend and coauthor Marshal D. Carper, a strong frame means “grappling with your bones.” If you grapple with your bones, the structure of your body carries your opponent’s weight. A strong frame is efficient and durable. If you grapple with your muscles, you force your body to burn more energy because the passive process of carrying your opponent’s weight becomes an active one.

Think of it like this: Have you ever seen someone carry cement bags on their shoulders? Instead of using arm and back muscles to move the bags, placing the bags on shoulders directs the weight downward into shoulders and then legs. In this situation, bones carry much of the weight, freeing the person to be more mobile and move more weight more efficiently.

If only grappling was so simple.

Your opponents are dynamic and wily. They will not stay static, and they have many options for using their weight, making your application of frames a bit more complex than carrying a bag of cement.

Whenever you build a frame from any position, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Recognize the direction and angle of the pressure.
  • Build your frame to face your opponent’s pressure head-on.
  • When you build your frame, root your structure into the ground for optimal efficiency.
  • Every piece of your body between the root of your structure and your opponent should be positioned to work together, which will typically mean forming a diagonal chain of structures between the origin of the pressure and your root.

Here are two examples of what I mean. In the first example, I am using the basic collar tie to sit-up and re-guard. My opponent, Mike, is driving forward to collapse me, so I post my hand behind me, directly in line with his pressure, and use my forearm to carry his weight through my shoulder and eventually into my posted arm.

In the second example, I use a stiff arm with my sit-up motion to drive my opponent away. This is a more dynamic frame, but the concept stays the same. I have built my structure to not only maximize the power, but I am positioned in such a way that I am prepared to resist my opponent if he drives back toward me. Again, you can see the diagonal, kickstand-esque line formed by my frame, and you can also see how I maintain this structure throughout my movement to get as much return on my leverage as possible.

We will explore these concepts in great depth later in the book, but this introductory explanation should help you to get started. If you can, remember these ideas as you experiment with these techniques. If you can internalize what makes a frame strong, you can analyze your positions and identify opportunities for improvement.