The Art of Framing | Structure Over Strength

The art of “framing” is a critical skill in the toolbox of the self-defense oriented martial artist. Framing allows for space. Space allows for freedom of movement. Freedom of movement allows for options: escape or counterattack.

There are difficult moments when we are being compressed, smothered, and crushed (or we see the potential for that coming on quickly). The instinct, like someone who is drowning, is to thrash in an attempt to free ourselves from the intense pressure. However, like a person who is drowning, these unskilled frantic actions only fatigue us while inducing even more panic. For those who are training for self-defense, the inability to gain freedom isn’t the loss of a match but potentially our physical well being. It is also important to consider that the crushing compression one feels will likely be from an adversary of superior size and strength. They are purposely using their mass against you.

Although the art of Jukido Jujitsu often (but not always) encourages close physical connection between you and your adversary, it encourages this contact when the contact is on your terms! When it is not on your terms and you can’t, for whatever reason, immediately convert the attacker’s physical connection against him you must create and then control space. Framing is one way to do exactly that. Framing is strength through structure. Structural strength over muscle power.

Framing is by no means limited to ground fighting (far from it). However, ground fighting serves as an obvious example.In ground-fighting (or newaza), for the person on the bottom the general rule is that space is your friend. Creating effective “frames” allows you to create space. Otherwise you remain pinned between your attacker and the ground. By framing and creating space you can then use this space to get out from underneath the individual or to fill that negative space, if situationally appropriate, with a counter attack of your own.

Without control of elements such as: pressure, posture, positioning, balance, open space, and combative distance there is no hope for the smaller individual in real self-defense. Although there is no one tool that has all the answers, understanding the concepts of creating strong anatomical structures (frames) is one vital tool in helping the weaker overcome the physically stronger.

-George Rego Sensei