With the Olympic lifts, it’s easy to wander a little too far down the rabbit hole and find yourself lost amid overwhelming detail. There are times when such detail is necessary and helpful, but at other times, the best course of action is to simplify. Sometimes this just means reassessing a problem with a perspective guided by simplicity—that is, returning to the basics to fix the complex.
If you’re struggling to figure out why your snatch and clean receiving positions are unreliable, uncomfortable or otherwise not working well for you, take a look at your back squat and front squat stance and movement. Surprisingly often, athletes use different squat stances for the back squat, front squat and overhead squat—this is usually in response to the different demands on position and flexibility and what they presently can and can’t get away with. Something I try to emphasize is that each athlete should have one squat stance—this stance should be the same in the back squat, front squat, overhead squat, snatch, clean, power snatch, power clean and power jerk. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, yet this creates problems for athletes who have been working around various inflexibilities or habits rather than addressing the source of the issues.
The goal of squatting in the context of the Olympic lifts is straightforward: to achieve maximal depth with the most upright posture possible (it should go without saying that we also need proper spinal extension and balance across the foot). This is what allows the athlete to create the structure necessary to best support weights overhead in the snatch or on the shoulders in the clean.
Every repetition of every exercise you perform is practice—if you want to improve your performance, you better take those repetitions seriously and execute them in a manner that supports your objectives. Applying this to weightlifting and the squat stance, every time you squat, you’re practicing and reinforcing a particular position and movement pattern, along with reinforcing patterns of flexibility. If this position and movement is different than what you need in the snatch and clean, you’re complicating what should be a simple element of these lifts and creating difficulty where it doesn’t need to exist.
This problem is often at the root of large disparities between an athlete’s squat and Olympic lift numbers. When you compare the similar elements of the lifts (i.e. the squat), you see totally different movements and positions. A common example is a lifter who squats with the toes and knees more forward, yet in order to achieve the postures necessary for the snatch and clean to be successful, needs to squat with the toes and knees spread more. There are two potential problems created now: Either the athlete is continually receiving snatches and cleans with this squat stance, which prevents them from executing the lifts successfully, or they’re weak and imbalanced when receiving snatches and cleans with the proper stance because they simply haven’t trained a high enough volume of quality repetition with it. In both cases, a strong athlete misses lifts that should be easy makes, or worse, risks injury for no good reason.
A related problem is the lifter who likes to cheat depth when squatting rather than sitting all the way in. This athlete will often be able to stop short similarly in the snatch and clean up to a certain point, and then beyond this threshold, suddenly falls apart, either getting buried in the bottom of the clean or unable to stabilize a snatch overhead. This is such a silly reason to be missing lifts—watching it happen is one of the things that irritates me most as a coach, especially when that lifter proceeds to whine about missing yet ignores repeated instructions to squat right.
Ultimately, I see this problem as a symptom of being lazy and impatient in a sense. It happens when athletes are more interested in hurrying through their workouts than in ensuring the quality of every rep taken, or in inflating strength numbers by altering the movement. Neither of these is a behavior of an athlete motivated to achieve the best possible results—decide what kind of athlete you want to be and train accordingly.
How do you fix all this? Very simple: Find your correct squat stance and use it for every squat you do, and when you squat, snatch and clean, always—I mean always—sit all the way in. If you’re trying to recover from a long period of bad habits, sit in the bottom of all snatches and overhead squats for 2-3 seconds before standing—and when I say the bottom, I meant the bottom. Pause back squats are a great exercise as well for strengthening the deepest part of the squat. It’s not that fun, but neither is missing lifts you should be making. – Greg Everett
The much anticipated open weight finals between two of the most athletic and exciting BJJ practitioners today; Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida (Checkmat) vs Andre Galvao (Atos).
Official video from the Budovideos.com 2013 Pan Jiu Jitsu live Broadcast.
Commentary by Shawn Williams, Budo Jake and Caleb.
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Paulo Miyao vs Keenan Cornelius Pan 2013 Brown Belt Open Class Finals – OFFICIAL
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1. Never Underestimate Any Practitioner – Listen to what other practitioners have to say about the “gentle art.” Whether you decide to take any advice or not is at your discretion, but at least you will be open to new information. Renzo Gracie says: “The first rule to perfect your Jiu-Jitsu is to never be deaf to other people’s knowledge. It’s common to see guys who deem themselves professors decline a new teaching, ignoring a pupil who shows something new. To grow better you must understand how people think and how they got to that position. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s up to you to enhance it.” Renzo understood that it dosn’t matter what color belt a practitioner is, the moment they show you something, just listen and be open to what they have to say. Even if the move is not that efficient, the concept might help your game.
2. Become A Master Driller – The key to Jiu-Jitsu is found in the positions and proficiency of each movement. In Judo, people are thrown and taken down 100′s of times each session. In Jiu-Jitsu, it should be no different. It is essential at any level of your BJJ journey to repeat the basics and drill religiously if you plan on making the movements flow naturally as second nature. Remember, it’s action/reaction. By drilling the moves and making them part of your muscle memory, you will no longer have to think about what defense to use but instinctively execute it.
3. Always Be Attacking – Sometimes the best defense is a really good offense. As Marcelo Garcia put it, “I always try to attack. While I’m on the offensive, my opponent can think of nothing but defending, that is, I’m protected.” As an example, the Alliance black-belt recalls the time when he didn’t know to keep an open guard. He would cross the legs on the opponent’s back and pray for the time to elapse. “I was afraid of attacking,” he evaluates. After noticing the deficiency Marcelo started uncrossing the feet and practising sweeps. He realized that, if he went right onto the adversary, he’d run a much smaller risk of being submitted than if he played defending, applying but rare counter-strikes. Garcia also realised that, by being the first to attack, he would make his opponents abandon their former plan. Bottom line….the best defense is the attack.
4. Never Disregard Your Defense – Despite the Marcelo Garcia “always attack” philosophy, you should still always be working on mastering your escapes and defense game. Rillon Gracie said, “Learning defense improves the attack. I f the lion knows how the prey can escape, it’ll capture it in a much more precise way.” To practice defense in Jiu-Jitsu, Rillion advises the reader into forgetting s/he is strong. “Exercise your patience. Use the weight and the force of the levers,” he explains. “Start practising defense as soon as possible, to awake just as soon the survival instinct in your fighter’s soul.”
5. Always Stretch – Stretching for Jiu-Jitsu is of utmost importance. First of all, you don’t want to pull a muscle while rolling. Injuries happen often in the gym and on the mat because of the absence of a short stretching warm-up. Stretching will also make many of the moves flow easier because of the long-term increase in flexibility.
6. Always Be Training – The secret to being a great Jiu-Jitsu practioner (or in any other martial art) is regularity: training over and over and over. Twice a day if possible. Training regularly leads to evolving and injury-avoiding. For the fact that you keep training, the body gets used to the effort you make. Besides training often, you must divide the trainings, understand that there is a little something called resting. So if in the afternoon the practice is slower, take the chance to rest. If your body doesn’t react all that well in the morning but you know that in the morning the training is profitable, wake up earlier to get your body prepared. Practise more heavily at night, but don’t let it go on till too late, for you might go to bed tense, thinking of training – and end up not resting at all.
7. Bring Respect On The Mat – In Jiu-Jitsu, you must arrive with an open mind and practice with pleasure, not simply wanting to win in the training. You must respect, above all, not only the dojo and the professor, but also your practice-mate, after all you need him/her. In all sports, athletes create rituals that push the negative energy away. However, many Jiu-Jitsu beginners ignore that fact, maybe for seeing martial arts as just a way of defending; a game of win or lose. Make sure to always tap/shake hands with your training partner.
FINALS of the Advanced Absolute featuring Ricardo Abreu Pinto (Hermes Franca) vs Jim Quinlan (Mass BJJ) at Grapplers Quest at UFC Fan Expo Boston 2010.