Long before I was a Blue Belt, sometime in 2006, I was training at a group class at Roger Gracie’s academy. Taking the lesson was Mauricio Motta Gomes, Roger’s father. Something he informed the class that night I will never forget. We were ‘shrimping’ up the mat and Mauricio announced ‘what you are doing now is one of the most important and useful things you will ever learn’. I’m not sure how many people heard Mauricio’s statement as we were all exercising hard and many I expect couldn’t see the relevance of ‘shrimping’ – everyone was trying their best to shrimp as hard and as fast as possible up the mat, though.
Carlos Gracie Junior also stated in an article I read in Graciemag once, that hip movement took time to develop and really started to become fluid when someone becomes a Purple Belt. It can be difficult to move your hips, but developing movement is critical to success in so many situations. In my opinion, if you’re not moving your hips into position, you’re not practicing effective Jiu-Jitsu – I truly believe that. Not only are the hips essential in defence but they are also very important when executing attacks. You need to move your hips to maintain your base when underneath your opponent and sitting, you need to move your hips to keep your opponent at distance and you need to move your hips to Sweep your opponent in order to have the leverage to reverse someone – giving yourself advantage and making your opponent light.
The reasons for moving your hips are many – everything hinges around the hip – most defences and escapes need strong hip movement.
I caught a guy in a Head and Arm Triangle choke when training in North London once. I was on the bottom and the guy I had caught was in his early 20’s and aggressive. I was squeezing with all my strength because I really wanted to tap this guy – it was a very physically demanding match for me and I wanted to finish it. Leo Negao walked past and said to me ‘get your hip out’ – I did of course and bang – the choke went on with little strength used and the guy tapped – a lesson I learnt that evening.
I also believe that when you are underneath your opponent you have an amount of space that you feel comfortable with – this may be more or less space depending on your size. My rule is always – if he takes 6 inches of space off me, I move my hips and take 6 inches back. If he takes 10 inches of space off me I take 10 inches back – if he comes smashing through – I retreat my hip aggressively to account for the amount of space I think my opponent is going to take – shrimping being the killing factor in terms of nullifying my opponent’s efforts.
In summary – hip movement is one of the two big things that have accelerated my training – posture, being the other one. If you don’t move your hip, expect to be dominated and have your guard passed.