Beat the Frame, Save Your Neck!

Some the biggest responses I’ve received in email lesson series have been in regards to the recommendations about dealing with injuries.

Sometimes these relate directly to common situations on the mat, where any pre-existing injuries, contributing muscular imbalances, etc. make the chance of further injury much greater.

One such scenario that I’ve gotten quite a few questions about is how to beat the frame when trying to pass an opponent’s guard and they stiff arm (or shuck) your head to the side.

I address two simple options for this situation here:

I have a bad neck myself and when it was really bad following an injury I suffered in 2008, this is one of the situations that would often do me in – and I’d be jacked up and off the mat for a week or two.

These techniques are really important for the transitional fight that takes place in between one stage of the pass and the next, and as I suggest in the video above, should be drilled with progressive resistance as a micro-drill (putting the zoom lens on and working just that moment in time).

I’m confident that this will really help you not only improve your pass, but minimize the wear and tear on your body.

That being said, always keep in mind the original idea of BJJ, and in theory, all grappling arts: go with the energy, not against it. My good friend, super slick BJJ Black Belt John Frankl, recently taught a seminar and someone remarked with admiration with John “it’s not a question of how long he’ll hold on but how soon he’ll let go.” There is a direct correlation between this style / sensibility and why he continues to get better in his late 40’s.

In general, let your muscular-skeletal system be a guide. Too much force? Find the other path. With Jiu-Jitsu, it’s not a question of if there is another way, it’s simple a question of feeling–and finding–the alternative route.

For more in-depth training specifically tailored to the needs of the 40 and over BJJ student-athlete, check out the 40 Plus BJJ Performance Academy online coaching program at


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