Technical Pressure

4 04 2011

I was chatting with Michelle Welti tonight for a minute while we were drilling stack passes, and I thought it might make an interesting blog entry. The conversation was about heavy pressure. It’s amazing how it’s so incredibly hard to put into words exactly how to be heavy. The biggest thing I took away from my time spent with Big Jay Corbett while he was instructing at Rage was his explanation: “try to envision a six inch diameter circle on your opponent, and then try to fit every ounce of your weight into that circle.” It made sense in my head, but I still had such a tough time making it happen for such a long time. How can I fit all of my weight into one spot? Magically, it seemed, about a year later, I could do it. How did I figure it out? I hadn’t been doing anything different? I thought. But, unknowingly I had!
There comes many points in your BJJ journey where things just… Click. Going from playing a guessing game to learning to play a reactionary game. Waiting until your opponent makes a move, then attempting to counter it. Then, going from a reactionary game to making actions to force the reaction from your opponent. When you realize that playing a reactionary game just doesn’t work against higher level opponents. “If you think, you are late. If you are late, you use strength. If you use strength, you tire. If you tire, you die.” -Saulo Ribeiro. Words to live by.
Among these enlightening moments is the one where pressure starts to make sense. All of a sudden, it seems like that impossible 6″ circle is anywhere you want it. The cross face, knee on belly, stack passing… It’s like you have found a way to harness gravity and focus it! A small 150lb man now feels like he weighs 300lbs on top. We have all felt it from the bottom, it’s awesome! And it’s really not all that difficult to do. But what is difficult, is to explain it. It’s something that, unfortunately, has to be learnt through action, not explanation. Sometimes heavy pressure can be achieved through counter pressure, such as with a modified scarf hold. Just a small amount of pull on the opposite arm from your legs while you pick your weight off the floor and drive your ribs into theirs can make a ton of difference. But the biggest part isn’t so much the counter pressure, it’s the simple thing that beginners seem to miss.
It’s the drive.
Not just focusing your weight into that small area, but constantly driving off of your feet to create more force. It doesn’t have to be a lot of pushing, a small amount applied constantly at the right angle is very effective. The closest explanation I can offer is to keep your knees and butt off the ground just an inch, no more, and drive off of your feet and then try to imagine your circle. Technical pressure, as many call it, took me well into blue belt to figure out, and it’s still getting better. It’s something that I have asked about a lot as a white belt, and even though I actually got pretty much the exact explanation I just gave, it still took me a long time to understand. You can see it in videos. You know it’s there, but it takes the smallest little details to make it a reality. Details so tiny that you can’t even see them well enough to make use of them. In fact, this blog was pretty much a waste of time, considering anyone looking for an answer, even if you found it, you wont know it until one day when you didn’t even know you are doing anything different, someone will say to you “Wow! Thats some good pressure!” I’m sure you will get a little smirk on your face as the light bulb turns on.
Until then, keep rolling and one day you will find that little 6″ circle really is possible to achieve.




2 responses

8 04 2011
Julianne Hibbits

Intriguing post, i’m going to give this a try, thanks

8 04 2011
kevin callen

Thanks for the very helpful insight.

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