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The basis of many, if not most, escapes from “bad” positions in grappling is to establish connection to your opponent at pivotal points and create frames. The bottom player is always trying to make space to fish for underhooks, guard retention strategies etc. while the top player is usually seeking to eliminate space and force their opponent to bear their weight.

No frames against your opponent will allow him to get chest to chest and smother you as shown below.

So what are frames conceptually?
Think of frames as a solidified force field that repel your opponent and maintain the space need to escape. Sure your opponent might go for a sloppy sub attempt or seek to transition to another position in a hurry, but it is far more beneficial to rely on your own attempts at escaping than hoping they’ll give you a hand. This is doubly so in a competition setting where if you’re down on points and can get stalled out to a loss.

Holding up a tent, poles at several key points bear weight with no strength involved, just like your skeletal system. Why is it easier to stand with all your weight on one leg than it is to stand with it distributed equally? You’re inadvertently framing and locking out all your leg bones to create a frame while the other leg rests.
Why is it easy for some people to hold a locked out bench press yet cannot actually press the same weight repetitiously? Yes, yes it’s frames. The arms in a locked out position form a line of bones to serve a common purpose.

As soon as tent poles are angled incorrectly and are not bearing the weight head on, it collapses. The more you play with frames, especially with higher belts, you’ll feel them collapse your frames, and that is AWESOME! Seriously, if you force a higher belt to collapse your little frame force field then it worked, right? You made them alter their strategy and attack you from a different angle. The escapes will come in time, just focus on your frames and build with every roll.

One of the key fundamentals of jiujitsu is the frame which allows a person in a disadvantageous position to avoid over expenditure of their muscular system.

"If you think, you're late.
If you're late, you muscle.
If you muscle, you're tired.
If you're tired, you die."

- Saulo Ribeiro


A touch dramatic for your context as a novice, but at least you can see the importance of frames in the hierarchy of grappling survival.

So what makes a good frame?
In grappling, picture your opponent has a line across their hips and shoulders. The hips are the more important from side control as pictured and come first. A small hip bump or bridge will allow space to slide the elbow in all the way until the hand is flush with your opponent, like figure 1.
Then we swim the next frame into your opponent’s throat and/or shoulders HAND FIRST like a snake as shown in figure 2 below. The snake movement, like slicing the throat (ew) with the fleshy part of the hand and pinky prevents the limb from being isolated and attacked. This even more so if the initial frame on the hips is not established and they can drive with all their weight into the attempted frame.

Houston, we have frames.
What next?
I’m assuming you gym starts with a warmup called shrimping, hip escapes, some other obscure reference?
Do that.

Notice white essentially stays put and black is in the process of moving away from him. We are not manipulating the opponents weight, merely connecting ourselves to them to vacate the area immediately under them and create the objective of space.

Either into guard and begin playing your game as shown above.

Or fish for an underhook and escape to the knees then continue the battle for top position.


And there is your introduction to the frame game!
Establish your frames where needed, usually hips and/or shoulders, hip escape out and keep your frames solid, then begin working to achieve your own offensive position.


Jake Anderson

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