Getting your ShoulderBLADES to Touch

Have you ever heard the saying, “He got punched so hard in the chest, his shoulders touched”?

This is not about that.

We went over a couple of variations of the Mata Leao today – both in gi and no gi class. In the gi class, it was a lapel choke and Emilio had us throttle our choking hand down (the same way Emily Kwok practices her Americana if you’re familiar); that was a nice touch as it forces the blade of your wrist into your opponent’s carotid, making the choke easier to finish. Those little tidbits really help me out a lot.

In no gi, we were going over the traditional Mata Leao and I was practicing with a guy I had never rolled with before. I’d call him new, except that he’s a purple belt. Anyway, we’re rolling and I’m working on pushing my elbows down to finish the choke. He taps easily enough, but then shows me this little piece of magic I hadn’t heard/seen:

Make your shoulderblades touch.

I slap the choke back on, visualize my shoulderblades, inhale through my chest and push my scapulae together. The choke is IMMEDIATE and near effortless.

Four little words within a 2 hour rolling session made my day. Without them, I’d still think you need to muscle your elbows down in order to finish the choke; at this point, I knew it wasn’t a choke that was finished with my biceps; knew that my elbows had to come down, but didn’t know HOW they had to come down. In making my shoulderblades kiss, the space is natually closed and my elbows come down all on their own. Besides, there’s no resistance against my shoulderblades the way there’s an entire person wrapped within my arms.

These tidbits I sometimes get in class – these “eureka!” moments – that what this blog is about. Man, I love jiu jitsu.

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