I arrived at my private lesson with Eduardo Rocha with his school curriculum in hand.  I knew where my holes were, and my goal was to plug some of them up with this private.  However, he looked at the list and, to my surprise, put it aside.  “I have something better to show you.  You can learn this stuff [meaning the curriculum] by coming to class.  But, people who come from other jiujitsu schools don’t know this.”  For the next hour, I would learn that the “this” he referred to was the concepts behind his pressure game.

My Conceptual Takeaways

The very first thing I noticed when I first rolled at Prof. Rocha’s school was how heavy everyone felt – regardless of belt level and regardless of actual weight.  Being on the bottom was exhausting and discouraging.  Here are five concepts I took away from my private on how to feel crushing on top.

  1. Let your opponent carry your weight at all times.  Let gravity assist.
  2. Do not disperse or dilute the effect of your top pressure by placing any part of your body on the ground unless it is necessary to do so.
  3. Do not disperse your weight across the entirety of the opponent’s body.  Rather, focus applying pressure to the person’s hips or to the person’s shoulders to maximize pinning effectiveness.
  4. While not incorrect, do not grip your hands while in side control when possible.  While it might help you hold down your opponent, it a) fixes you to the opponent thereby limiting offensive opportunities, and b) it diminishes your ability to base should you get bucked, bumped, or rolled.
  5. Connection is vital.  When transitioning from side control to knee-on-stomach or to mount, do not allow for space or lose the connection of your hips to their hips.

An Illustration

In the video below, at 0:49 you can see the side control position Eduardo favors and teaches us at his school.  The only difference is that even the rear knee is off the ground, concentrating downward pressure from your hips to his hips.  The ensuing drill Xande teaches is identical to the drill Eduardo taught me during our private as a counter to a person’s reaction to the hip-to-hip pressure, which is to bump and try to get their knee in.