Background: I am a teenage white-belt 2nd stripe training in BJJ for almost a year now. I feel like I have some fundamental errors in my overall game and am seeking to remedy them.

Question: One of the most commonly taught sweeps to beginner is the scissor sweep from closed guard. One of the most common mistakes that coaches point out is this:

Hey man, you aren't facilitating the sweep with your hips, you're just muscling through the whole thing.

The fact of the matter is that I don't know how to generate strength with my hips. This applies to a broad spectrum of techniques, from controlling my opponent to using my hips to try and sweep them instead of strength (Mind you I am ~127 lbs, so I lack in that department as well).

To summarize:

How can one effectively use their hips to generate strength for any given technique that requires it (not including bridging unless there is some concept in there)?

Research I Have Done

  1. I have looked around Google for this problem, but I have mostly found drills for shrimping and whatnot. That's why I came here.

  2. I was able to get in contact with my coach at today's class (I don't have a phone). When I presented him the question, he mentioned that "generating strength with hips" is actually creating an angle and using that to upset your opponent's center of gravity (base) in order to facilitate a sweep with minimal effort. This certainly was useful during the training session, although I would still like more feedback for this answer so that I can see the other perspectives that practitioners have on this topic.

  • 1
    It's not clear what else you are looking for with "I would still like more feedback for this answer so that I can get as much as possible out of this question".
    – mattm
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 14:34
  • @mattm Forgive my bluntness. I meant that I would like to see how various other practitioners tackle the topic of using your hips in BJJ. Essentially, I meant I'd like to wait and see various other perspectives if possible. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 15:04
  • No need to ask for forgiveness. You are entitled to accept answers however you see fit. It's just preferred that questions be clear. I have also revised my answer to discuss juji gatame, which may be a better illustration of how to generate strength.
    – mattm
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 21:37
  • @mattm Thank you so much! I sincerely appreciate your sheer dedication to assisting people like myself with such detail, commitment, and enthusiasm! Thank you so much! Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


Force and efficiency are different

There are two separate issues: how to generate strength (force) and how to use it efficiently. I think the scissor sweep is not a great example of how to generate strength; your coach is pointing you in the direction of how to use strength efficiently, while your question seems more focused on generating force.

Generate force by using big muscles together

Whenever possible, you want to use your body's largest muscles to do work, and you want them to assist each other in doing so. The human body's largest muscles attach to the pelvis (hips). This is the opposite principle of exercises that isolate muscle groups like leg extensions or leg curls. This is true regardless of whether you are punching, throwing, sweeping, or whatever. This is also called "using the whole body" because the common mistake is to focus on the limb directly in contact with the opponent.

Generally for standing techniques, you generate strength for the technique with the hips by swinging. The hips rotate, and this momentum is applied to a limb to attack.

For the scissor sweep specifically (not a personal specialty), I am unsure what "facilitating the sweep with your hips" means. My guess is this is an instruction to supplement the leg scissor action with the strength of the torso, combining the twisting motion to achieve the mount position with the leg action in the scissor sweep. In other words, you should use your whole body and not just your legs.

Apply force efficiently

Reduce your opponent's base and off-balance them. Borrow momentum to attack. This is the context where I most frequently see the muscling critique.

Case studies


Bridging is one of the few techniques where you hit someone directly with your hips. In this respect, it is easier to understand the role of the hips in bridging than in punching, for example. Punching is more difficult because you have to transmit force from your hips through your torso and arms to a hand.

Cross body arm lock (juji gatame)

I suggest the arm lock is a better technique to illustrate how to generate strength from the hips.

The naive way of applying this arm lock is to squeeze the opponent's arm between your legs, then pull down on the opponent's wrist with your arms. Assuming you have sat in deep to your opponent with their elbow closer than your hips, you have leverage to make this movement efficient, but this will not help you generate more force. If your hip placement is suboptimal, you may not have sufficient leverage and force to finish the submission.

A better way to apply the lock is to sit up and wrap up the opponent's wrist into your chest using your arms. Then perform a back extension (reverse motion of sit-up) holding the opponent's arm and arch your hips up. The efficiency element is the same because your hips and wrist control are in the same places to give you the same lever. The force generated by your hips and back are much greater than the force from just your arms, giving you the ability to apply the lock more slowly, with more control.

  • With the scissors sweep, using the hips probably is about not staying shrimped (hips outside of partner's body axis), but moving the hips back into the center line before sweeping. It goes a long way regarding levers etc. Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 18:10

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