#1 GET IT OFF THE FLOOR
My instructors used to tell me to put my weight on my partner. I thought I was doing exactly this but still I couldn’t seem to shut them down effectively. Over time, these thoughts occurred to me:
- I have a limited amount of weight to use
- That weight has to be somewhere
- Where, exactly was my weight, at any given moment?
- I noticed that much of it was dispersed on the mat itself
- If I took it off the mat it had to go somewhere
- And that ‘somewhere’ was in fact, onto my training partner
So there you have the first, most basic principle of Weight Application that there is. The more of your weight that you take off the floor, the more of it will ‘pour’ onto your opponent. And every ounce counts! There’s a T-shirt right there! EVERY OUNCE COUNTS!
Look for your weight, you will find it on your elbows, on your knees, your feet, etc – try to get it off these ‘support points’ and it will flow onto your partner. When I began thinking in terms of getting my weight off the floor, rather than putting it on my partner, I became far more effective.
Begin then, by asking yourself, where your weight actually is – at any given moment.
#2 POUNDS PER SQUARE INCH
In taking our weight off the floor, it will necessarily pour onto our partner but with what measure of force? If we take our body off the floor and lie entirely on top of our partner, the weight will be spread over a large surface area and won’t count for much.
The smaller the surface area through which we pour our weight onto our partner, the greater the measure of force we impart. Our tendency is to spread our weight over a larger surface area than we need to and this results in less pressure.
Think of your weight in terms of water shooting out of the nozzle of a fire-hose; the smaller the nozzle, the greater the pressure. As you take your weight off the floor, pour it onto your partner through a small contact point and you will begin to maximize the amount of pressure you can apply.
The larger the contact point, the weaker the pressure – the smaller the contact point, the greater the pressure. This is very important.
#3 WHERE TO APPLY IT?
As we take our weight off the floor and pour it onto our partner, through a small point of contact so as to increase the pressure, we will need to develop an understanding of where, on our opponent, we should apply our efforts.
This is where there is a clear crossover of an understanding of leverage and an understanding of weight application. We need to apply our weight on the ends of the levers.
Applying it in the middle of our partners chest (when in side control for example) will not serve to effectively prevent his shoulders from rotating as effectively as we could be applying the weight on point of the far shoulder.
Remember, it will help you to think of the bones as levers and the levers as bones; it certainly helped me. Take our weight off the floor, apply through a small point of contact on to the end of the lever that we wish to manipulate. This is crucial.
#4 ADD PULLING
It is not always practical to do this, but when we can, it will significantly increase the amount of pressure we can apply to our partner. Your weight is a finite thing – you weigh, what you weigh – so how can we increase the amount of force that we can apply to our partner given that this is the case.
Imagine standing on your set of bathroom scales – we look at the numbers and they tell us we weigh exactly 80 kilograms (apologies my American friends) – it is what it is. There is one simple way to see the numbers go up, without having Marcelo Garcia jump onto our back, and that is to take off our belt (because we are still wearing it) slide it under the scales, grab and end in each hand and start pulling.
By pulling upward, we increase the force that we are naturally applying to the scales.
Often we can create the same effect on our training partner. Be in side control, slide our top under beneath his shoulder blade (for example) and pull up strongly as we focus our weight down from above (using all of the principles I have previously discussed).
By adding ‘pulling’, we can significantly increase the pressure we are applying to the end of the lever.
#5 KNOW THE ANGLE
This, the last of my five principles of Weight Application – is in my view, the most difficult to take ownership of; the reason being that it changes for every technique and so it becomes a lifelong pursuit.
Applying our weight, by taking it off the floor and pouring it onto the end of a lever, through a small contact point is very, very effective; but we have a subtle very important consideration to take into account – and that is, the angle (vector) on which this force is applied.
Consider being on the mount position for example, and driving all of our weight down into our partner’s wrist to try to force it to the mat for our Figure 4 finish.
If we apply our weight in a downward direction, it may be such that our partner doesn’t like it and so moves his forearm away from his body to alleviate the pressure but this is a strategy that is reliant upon him deciding to do that; if we are driving our weight in a downward direction, we are in fact, driving his wrist into his body, rather than driving it out into space and onto the floor.
The angles in which we apply a force, greatly affect the outcomes we get. Levers can be moved in many different directions and by being very clear about what we are trying to achieve we can hone in on the correct angles on which to apply our weight/force.
Push a see-saw sideways and not much happens, jump downward on one end and the other end flies upward. Think about angles – for every technique.
I hope this and the four previous principles have made you think more deeply about how you can more effectively apply your weight on the mat.
These things took me a long time to understand and even now, I don’t claim full understanding – but the understanding that I do have has afforded me good results. I hope the same for you.
5th degree BJJ Black Belt