A friend and I were working some Jiu Jitsu and jokingly came up with the term relaxion. It’s a contraction of relaxation and connection. It’s a crazy wonderful jiu jitsu paradigm for all top positions. I’ll attempt to detail it in the videos below.
Relaxation is a super important principle in jiu jitsu for a few reasons.
Firstly, it helps you to retain energy and not gas out so fast. This is critical for the older grappler who has a smaller tank. Reserving energy is part of the overall strategy. I honestly think that energy conservation is the most overlooked of jiu jitsu fundamentals. Relaxation goes a long way to helping you to prioritize it properly.
Secondly, relaxation helps you to feel what your opponent is doing. Tension makes that difficult. Your body works as a second set of eyes that feels slight shifts in your opponents position and weight distribution. This is difficult to “see” with your body if you are tense.
Thirdly, your reaction time will shorten dramatically if you are relaxed. If you are tense you have to notice the need to react, relax your muscles, then react. If you are already relaxed you cut out the part where you have to relax before you react. It may not sound like much but in jiu jitsu micro seconds can sometime matter.
Fourthly, it makes you heavy. I’m sure you probably have never lifted a dead body but you can imagine how heavy a totally relaxed body is. If you’ve ever had a child you can remember how heavy they are when they don’t want to get picked up. They naturally relax into your grip to make themselves heavier. It’s startling if you’ve never felt it. You can feel twice as heavy on top if you relax. You have to imagine your torso is a sandbag. It totally relaxes and conforms to the surface that you lay it on. This will make you very heavy.
Connection works on the level of friction. The more points of contact you have with your partner the more friction generated when they try to move you. This make you harder to shake off. It also has a side benefit of giving you more ability to feel what the bottom person is doing. This works along with the relaxation to give you that extra set of “eyes.” Relaxation is what gives you the ability to get better connection.
Putting it Together
When you put the two together it gives you a lot of sticking and holding power. One way to use it is to constantly check yourself to see if you can either connect in more places. Can you drop your shoulder? How about your hip or belly button? Can you shift just a bit to get more connection? Can you move your leg or attach with your forearm? Get more connection wherever you can.
Once you do that start to relax into it. Scan your body from head to toe and relax everything that you can. For sure you should be able to relax everything between your shoulders and hips. This is your sandbag and should be soft and supple. Add back tension only where needed. For example your grips may have tension to hold you in place. Try to keep the tension below the elbow so that it doesn’t extend up to the shoulders. You can always add back in tension when needed.
This is kind of an abstract concept and difficult to show in videos. I’ve shot a few to try to demonstrate how these concepts work in practice. I hope that enough is conveyed in the videos that you can try this next time you are on the mat.