Sick and tired of people smashing you in Jiu Jitsu? Well, it is about time you do something about it. What if I told you there is a defensive Jiu Jitsu position that can kill off 50% of BJJ? You’d want to learn it, of course. While learning the Hawking position’s intricacies will take time, this article will tell you everything you need to know about it and how it works to kill off most of what you know in terms of BJJ.
What is Defensive BJJ?
To begin with, a quick defensive BJJ reminder. The smartest thing you can do when people are preventing you from moving in the direction you desire and are trying to choke or joint lock you are to do nothing.
Of course, just like everything else in BJJ, that “nothing” has to be intentional and end up with an escape plan for you. The Defensive BJJ system by Priit Mihkelson provides exactly that – a foolproof combination of concepts that will help you defend everything.
The entire system revolves around the use of “static” postures that prevent an opponent from getting to a scoring position or gaining access to the levers they need to execute a submission hold.
At the end of the day, though, you can’t win a match just by preventing the other person from doing anything and not trying to score yourself. That said, in order to score from a “bad” spot, you’ll need to get out first.
This brings us to the dynamic aspect of playing the defensive BJJ system. You can remain static as long as you want, but you shouldn’t remain static more than absolutely necessary. That means you’ll have to abandon your safety cocoon at one point with the goal of still not giving anything away.
The system offers not just different postures (each of them is a staple defensive Jiu Jitsu position, much like the mount or back mount are staple offensive ones) but also the means to transition in between them while maneuvering to safety or straight into counter-attacks.
The Hawking Jiu Jitsu position is arguably the most powerful of the bunch and, along with the turtle position, is a very useful checkpoint that helps you bridge all the other defensive BJJ positions.
The Stephen Hawking Jiu Jitsu Position
First, I’ll start off with the name. As the founder Priit puts it, ”it all started off as a joke”. The position has you keeping your jaw as tight as possible to your shoulder on one side, which reminds, well, of Stephen Hawking.
Respectfully, though, Hawking was a genius, and so is this position in terms of defending Jiu Jitsu attacks, so let’s stick with this story as the official reason for the name.
The concept is right in line with all other defensive BJJ staples – never let both your shoulder blades hit the ground. Creating space in between one shoulder blade and the ground will help you establish a powerful posture by incorporating all your muscles to operate as one unit, as opposed to each body part trying to fend off attacks on its own.
Accomplishing this “posturing” requires you to create alignment in your body that results in power, in the sense of keeping everything compact and deflecting attacks. Such a structure is based on mechanical principles rather than strength, which makes it applicable to anyone.
The Hawking Jiu Jitsu position will help you defend against various attacking positions, rather than just a specific positional or submission attack.
Let’s see how the structure of the position works:
The torso plays a key role in establishing a strong Hawking position. The aim is to try and lift one of your shoulder blades off the ground while using the other as support. In fact, you want as much of your torso to be in direct, thigh contact with the ground, shoulder to hip, on one side of your body. This is what provides you with a strong base.
Moreover, you should actually look to be tilted back a bit rather than lie on your bottom arm. You want that arm to be free rather than trapped, so the first point of contact with the ground should be the rear delt (rear shoulder).
Your chest can face the opponent, or it can face away from them. The position will be effective regardless.
Finally, you should remember to round out your shoulders. This is a crucial aspect of the position, but one most people forget, simply because it does not involve a big and visible body movement. The bottom line is that shoulders should be hunched, focusing on rounding them forward to allow your elbows to click.
Speaking of the elbow clicks, these refer to wedging your elbows on your hips. Unless you round your shoulders off and crunch forward, you will not be able to make your elbows “sticky” and hard to pry away from your body.
The best way to describe this when I am demonstrating the Hawking, or any other defensive Jiu Jitsu position for that matter, is to tell people to imagine as if you’re looking to elbow strike the top of your thigh. This motion puts your arm in the exact position that provides a click and makes the entire posture very difficult to break.
Your forearms remain free, and you should use your hands to actively wrist fight, looking to grab and hold the opponent’s arms anytime they are in range. This is another crucial aspect – do not try to grip or hold if it means your elbow will leave the click position, but rather focus on grabbing anything that comes within your range. No reaching.
The head positioning is what makes people that are trying to attack the Hawking position extremely frustrated. Simply put, no choke, Gi, or No-gi will work as long as you maintain the posture.
Once your torso and arms are in place, you hide your head by looking toward your chest, tilting the top of the head towards the mats, and tucking your chin towards your collarbone.
There is also a version of this where your head can go the other way, tilting upwards, but let’s leave that one for a different occasion. As long as you master the tilt towards the mats, you’ll be able to repel most BJJ attacks with a smile on your face.
Leg and Hips Placement
The legs play the final piece of the Hawking Jiu Jitsu position puzzle. Namely, you want to have them bent at hip level, looking to have your knees near your chest.
As you are tilted to the side, you end up with a bottom and top leg of sorts. The bottom one should touch the ground with the entire outside length. The knee should be bent, but it doesn’t have to be bent too far back.
On the other hand, the top leg’s knee should be as bent as possible. This means you’re protecting your hamstring with your calf, essentially making cradle attacks redundant. Moreover, the foot of this leg goes on the mats, usually only with the toes, to provide a better base and power source for the position.
Always keep both knees pointing towards your chest, providing a much-needed alignment to keep the posture powerfully static.
How to Defend Everything with the Hawking
So how exactly can be lying around in a very specific way, as I outlined above, help you defend everything?
Quite easy, actually. Let’s start with position. Side control won’t work against the Hawking, as there are no handles (arms or head) to help the top person to remain in control. Moreover, it won’t matter whether they are behind you or facing you – the position works the same.
There is no real way to hold the mount, as the hips and head are once again out of the alignment the top person needs in order to establish control. In terms of the back mount, there’s no way to get the hooks in, and even if they are in, there is no real submission treat.
Speaking of submissions, keeping the elbows clicked, and actively wrist fighting will help you fend off most arm locking attacks.
The head position kills off any chokes and even grips like the chin strap that can lead to a series of strangle-based attacks.
Leg locks are also off the table, given the position of both legs. There’s no real direct threat to the bottom leg, and as long as the top leg’s knee is bent, there is no way for anyone to get either hip control or a knee line by way of Ashi Garami.
Since the attacking person won’t have the “position before submission” anyway, most submission assaults will be futile while you simply remain static and calm.
The Hawking Jiu Jitsu position puts you in a situation where your back is nearest to the ground, compared to all other Defensive BJJ postures. Despite that, it is the most potent position in the system, offering many options to flip the tables to your advantage.
Ogi is a black belt that does Jiu Jitsu full time and is very passionate about anything grappling-related.
He is also the head coach of Enso Jiu Jitsu in Macedonia and an aspiring Globetrotter.