I was fortunate enough to take a class with the legendary "Cobrinha" Rubens Charles Macial the other day. In watching him teach and move, I got a small glimpse into why he is as good as he is. It's impossible for me not to look for efficiency issues everywhere. So I am going to break down Cobrinha as an athlete and his ability to generate strength.
Cobrinha is not just a great BJJ player, he's also a great athlete who could have excelled at many sports. All BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) is, is a series of movement patterns. No matter the physical activity or sport, all movement patterns obey the same laws of physics and biomechanics.
I mentioned in an earlier post about the importance of proper movement, energy leakage, and BJJ technique. Better aligned and straighter movements can create more force. Misaligned and rounded movements leak energy, and you can lose 50% of your strength and feel overpowered. Or with proper movement, feel that much stronger.
For you to constantly stay aligned, you also need great flexibility and body control. 99% of the BJJ players out there look like this when they bend over to pass the guard.
Us Mere Mortals
World Champion Level
As I was searching for images, almost every competitor at black belt in the worlds could maintain a neutral spine now matter how bent over they were or how squatted they were.
Probably at this level of competition, if YouTube videos are any indicator, the guys who do this full-time also have access to strength coaches who can show them how to generate more power and assess them for functional movement pattern distortions.
Same Move In the Strength World
But look at his back, how neutral he can maintain his back. Observe his neck, he is looking at the floor, so his cervical is also more in lined with his spine. As opposed to looking off to the horizon.
Putting It All Together
Now look back at Cobrinha. He is also looking down and keeping his thoracic, cervical, and lumbar spine in alignment. An athlete of Pavel and Cobrinha's level who are already gifted, who are aligned, can generate a lot of force here. In Pavel's case he can lift a lot of weight. In Cobrinha's case he is generating a lot of pounds per squat inch pressure onto his opponent.
How We Train
It reminds me of all the terrible conditioning I see at strength camps and martial arts academies where everything is misaligned, and its hackneyed strong man moves with none of the proper technique. You end up with some decent cardio and strength, but your energy leakages also get strengthened that much more.
Strength is definitely also a skill, like BJJ, that needs to be drilled perfectly over and over and over.
About the Author:
Sam Y. is a Personal Trainer, Coach, Performane Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Enhancement Specialist, and holds multiple certifications. He is also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. He is also the author of the popular fitness blog All Out Effort as well as the popular martial arts blog Inner BJJ. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook at his personal fitness page.