Biomechanics of BJJ 6: Base Of Support

How many times have you heard the term “base” on the mats? Have you been told to keep a strong base, or to destroy your opponent’s base? Throughout my time training I’ve heard coaches in every school talk about having strong base – but I’ve never been explain how to actually accomplish this – or even what it means.

Base is a crucial concept in BJJ, but most beginners are never taught what it is, or how to do it. When questioned, many coaches will have a vague idea of what a strong base is. What many coaches mean is that a student should be “strong” in a stance and be hard to move in a position. This definition is clumsy and does not provide enough conceptual knowledge for students to implement into their game. By explaining the concept in biomechanical terms, students will be able to intuitively understand how to use their base.

In biomechanical terms, a base of support for any structure is the area beneath the structure that includes every point of contact that the structure makes with the supporting surface. In simpler terms, base (or a base of support) is all the points on the ground (or your opponent) that is supporting your weight and the area in between. The wider your base is, the more stability you will have. While standing, your base of support are all the points of contact that your feet or shoes make with the ground and the area between; when you widen your stance you increase your base of support. In the push-up position the base of support would be the area under the hands making contact with the ground and the balls of the feet and the area between. While laying on your side, the base of support would include all points in which your body makes contact with the ground. These points of contact are commonly referred to as “posts” within the BJJ community.

Crucial ideas about your base

  • Your base is dynamic and will constantly change as you move
  • Always be aware of where your base of support is to prevent sweeps and to gain stability
  • Placing a post drastically changes your base
  • Posts are platforms that can both exert force (driving off your toes) and receive force (absorbing your opponent’s bridge)
  • The wider your base, the more stability you have
  • The more flexible you are, the large base you can recruit.

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