All You Need To Know About BJJ Framing

All You Need To Know About BJJ Framing

1. What is BJJ Framing?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does not only involve chokes, armlocks, kneebars, etc, but also focuses on small moves that can increase your chances to win a match. One such important technique is BJJ framing, which allows a practitioner to focus all of his energies on a target. In addition, framing also helps maintain one’s space during a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match. The technique involves protecting oneself using bony body parts, especially the hips, and preventing your opponent from getting close enough to attempt a submission technique. BJJ frames can also be created using limbs without involving muscles and joints. Otherwise, it will give your opponent an opportunity to overpower you.

2. Importance of Framing in BJJ

The significance of framing lies in the fact that a practitioner can maintain good control over his opponent’s moves. BJJ framing is a comprehensive defense strategy, allowing you to lead your opponent’s moves and dominate him completely.  If employed correctly, BJJ framing works well for smaller fighters facing heavy-weight fighters.

However, framing often garners criticism, especially if the athlete performing the frame maintains the position just to drain the opponent’s energy and secure an easy win.

3. Basic Principles of BJJ Framing

Here are some of the basic principles of BJJ framing that one needs to keep in mind:

3.1. Framework and Order

To create a good frame, it is important to connect two limbs, (one arm and a leg, both arms, or both legs,). Straight angles and lines help you maintain balance and also keep you from crashing into your opponent.

3.2. Leverage

Leverage is a very efficient way to dominate your opponent and block his attacks. In addition, levers work as force multipliers, allowing you to exert more pressure or force without losing the structure. Levers also eliminate the need to attack your opponent directly.

3.3. Connection

Establish a connection with the opponent when framing. In addition, apply constant pressure on your opponent’s chest, neck, hips, collarbone, and other common pressure points to disrupt their balance and control all their moves.

3.4. Flexibility

Contrary to popular belief, BJJ framing is not a rigid technique. There is much room for movement. One of the main principles of BJJ framing involves adapting to your opponent’s moves. You should adjust the frame based on the opponent’s transitions,   movements, positions, and reactions. You can also transition between different types of frames like forearm, elbow, knee, etc. depending on the situation.

3.5. Duration

Timing is crucial for the effectiveness of a frame. Not all situations are ideal for framing. Therefore, develop a sensitivity to your opponent’s moves. This will help you make a quick decision about whether to create a frame or transition into a more dynamic position.

3.6. Goal

While creating frames, make sure you are aware of why you created one. Normally, frames are created as a counterattack, to create space, or to control the opponent’s movements. 

3.7. Energy Conservation

Ideally, BJJ frames allow you to conserve energy. It is best to practice framing techniques that require little effort but provide a strong defense.

4. When to Apply BJJ Frames?

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, frames are mostly employed in situations where the lower body is vulnerable to attacks. For example, starting from the bottom or a less-dominant position to produce space for a hip escape. A frame made of extended arms is also an example of an effective defense structure. Moreover, a square structure with elbows bent at arms is even more effective. When creating a frame, make sure that you keep your elbows close to the body. Reaching out or moving the elbows away from the body will disrupt the frame and create an opportunity for the opponent to attack.

5. Using Frames in BJJ

Using framing in a strategic manner is the most practical defensive mechanism. Let’s say you are in a top position and your opponent has the advantage of gravity. In this case, you can create a frame to distribute your opponent’s weight equally across your skeletal structure instead of relying on your muscles to bear his weight and becoming exhausted in the process. While this technique is not precisely framing, it is a skill derived from the concept of framing.

Bear in mind that all of your framing techniques should align with the angle of your opponent’s force, or you will be easily crushed.

Furthermore, the length of the frame is also an important aspect to consider. If you opt for a longer frame, you can easily detach yourself from your opponent by extending your arm. The upper and lower arm must be combined and act as a single unit to ensure greater endurance.

6. Effective Framing Techniques ft. John Danaher

John Danaher is a well-known mixed martial arts coach and a 6th-degree BJJ black belt from New Zealand. He is also the leader of the famous Danaher Death Squad (DDS) which is known for producing the best grapplers.

John Danaher taught some of the most effective framing techniques from bottom control in the following video.

The central target of such techniques is your outer arm. It should be placed in such a manner that the elbow must be squeezed into the curve of the opponent’s hip. Here, the position of your outer arm also matters. If it is too high, your rival can catch you up, and if it is too low, he can dig you in. The three techniques demonstrated by Danaher in the above video are:

  • The first technique involves using your outside arm as a frame around your opponent’s neck. In this way, you can easily get hold of his shoulder or triceps to attempt a wrist lock submission.
  • The other option Danaher discusses is the underhook frame, which offers a lot of control by placing your outside arm under your opponent’s chest.  This will drive your arm upwards through his armpit, head, and body, while you are in the bottom position.
  • The last technique taught by Danaher is the bicep framing. The outside arm lies at the opponent’s back. However, some people try head locking in it, which is a flawed move. One can slide the arm back to keep the bicep pressed against the temple and use different techniques to move the enemy’s head. This frame technique allows hip escape to guard your back and maintain a safe distance. 

7. Implementing Productive Framing

BJJ framing can be successfully executed by following the guidelines mentioned below:

7.1. Framing and Space Management

In a video by The Coast Academy, Matt O’Dea (a 1st degree BJJ black belt) has explained different techniques using longer and shorter frames.

7.2. Frame to Avoid Guard Pass

The following video features Andre Galvao (a multiple BJJ black belt, ADCC Champion, and a founding member of the Atos Jiu-Jitsu BJJ Gym,California), explaining BJJ Framing and demonstrating guard pass resistance.

8. Learning Difficulties

BJJ Framing is an important fundamental concept that most beginners find difficult to learn, adopt, and master. Fortunately, BJJ framing is quite easy to learn, provided you are willing to practice it and apply it in a competitive environment. When training with instructors or professionals, pay equal attention to framing methods that work and those that don’t work. This will help you combine the concept of BJJ framing with other techniques, allowing you to create a unique defense mechanism for different situations.

9. Implementing Movable Framing

During a guard pass, the transition period allows an opportunity to create long frames that allow mobility. Here are examples of movable frames:

9.1. Guard Pass Implementing Knee Cut

A knee-cut guard pass can be one of the best positions to implement movable frames. Your opponent has already gotten over your early-stage guard maintenance, with their knee already being on the floor, achieving underhook, and developing a modified kesa gatame. As your right arm is free, make a C-grip on your rival’s biceps by keeping your right palm up. Now, encircle the opponent’s body with your right arm and the other end of your own body when the partner glides, completing the guard pass. When the opponent moves his right arm to your body’s far side, make this a technique to come up to your elbow, leaving him with only two options, including falling over and reversal or switching his hips creating enough space for recovering your guard. Watch the video below to learn more!

Another way to achieve a similar move is by using static framing techniques when your partner tries to get on top, maintaining your guard. This technique is only applicable when the movable frames are no longer in action. Watch the video below to learn more about static knee-cut guard passes.

9.2. Double Under Guard Pass

Another technique that allows a movable frame is a double under guard pass. You can initiate with a static frame and raised hips when your opponent is putting you up altogether, providing you the chance to defend your pass. Now push his elbow up to move them away. This will give him the option to follow with his hips. You have a good chance now to defend yourself, swapping your body from your opponent’s and creating a space for recovery. Learn this move here!

9.3. Redirecting The Head

Redirecting the head is another yet effective movable frame. When your partner tries to nail your hips and try to push their head into your left hip, a situation of head redirection including over or under-guard pass appears. In this situation, you can move your opponent’s head to the other side with your hand; however, this is a temporary fix.  Especially if your opponent is sharp and experienced. You can balance yourself on your hips, using your left elbow as a base to strengthen the bridge. Move your hips to the left, keeping your head to the different sides of the body when the bridge comes down. All along from here, transition to the virtual checkmate.

10. List of BJJ Framing

Here is a list of different types of BJJ frames that you can apply to protect yourself during a BJJ fight:

10.1. Forearm Frame

This frame is applied particularly for distancing yourself from your opponent and dominating him. The technique involves putting your forearm around your opponent’s neck, chest, or collarbone and applying pressure with your hands or elbows. Common positions includes:

  • Bottom Guard
  • Half Guard
  • Side Control

10.2. Elbow Frame

The elbow frame is mostly used during chest interactions. It is applied from the bottom side control by pressing your hand against the opponent’s ribs, hip, or armpits.

10.3. Knee Frame

To disrupt the competitor’s base and to make space, a knee frame is employed. These are usually applied via bottom half guard or butterfly guard. For this technique, place your knee opposite to your rival’s chest, shoulder, and hip, breaking their momentum.

10.4. Shin Frame

This framing technique helps you maintain distance while performing strikes. It is normally advanced using a spider guard or De La Riva open guard from the bottom position. To apply a shin frame, position your shin on your rival’s thigh, bicep, or hip to dominate him.

10.5. Hand Frame

Hand frame is largely used to create space by pressing your hands on the rival’s shoulder, collarbone, or bicep. This technique is typically applied using a bottom guard or side mount.

10.6. Shoulder Frame

While applying this frame, the shoulder is usually rolled inside and pushed against the contender’s neck or chest, providing enough space while disrupting their base. It is usually applied from side control or north-south bottom positions.

10.7. Head Frame

These are applied to prevent chokes and attacks. To apply this frame, use your head as a shield against your opponent’s chest or shoulder, breaking their control. This technique can be applied using a side control, north-south, or turtle techniques or bottom positions.

11. Framing Escape

Many people perceive it as extremely difficult to escape a BJJ frame. Here is how you can overcome your fear of escapes:

11.1. Fear of Escape

BJJ framing is an advantageous position when you are the one applying it. But you may find yourself trapped in a frame and must learn to escape it. Many BJJ students learn how to apply a frame but fail to master escape techniques out of fear.

If you are afraid of an escape, then you might end up in a difficult situation later in a real-life fight scenario. Therefore, practice frame escapes with your partner. If you are uncomfortable, then start with solo drills. Once you gain confidence, train with your partner to get better at it. 

11.2. Learning an Escape

Until you do not learn escapes, your framing techniques will not be fully polished. Discuss your fear with your instructor to create a training routine that will help you excel in both techniques.

12. Tips for BJJ Framing

Some important BJJ framing tricks that can help you become a pro include:

  • Do not let your opponent lead you. Controlling his left hand must be your priority. Otherwise your opponent will get an opportunity to exert force and dominate you.
  • Use your above hand to approach the opponent’s opposite shoulder. It will create a wedge shape out of your upper body, allowing you to resist your opponent. Framing off of the adjacent shoulder will make it easy for the opponent to control you. Check the video below to learn this technique.
  • Establish your knee and elbow connection. This can be attained with the help of a triangle, supporting your body and making it difficult for the opponent to push into you. Check the video below to learn this technique.
  • Align your hips towards your opponent. This will provide you the opportunity to create an effective attack or defense strategy. Check the video below to learn this technique.

13. Conclusion

BJJ framing is an effective technique to create space and control your opponent’s movements during a fight, while effectively defending yourself against your opponent’s attacks.

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