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a rigid bar resting on a pivot used to help move a heavy or firmly fixed load with one end when pressure is applied to the other.

Rob Biernacki Definition

Levers multiply the amount of force transferred into your opponent. They are not only more efficient than the direct application of force, they are more powerful.

What does a lever mean for BJJ?

In Jiu-Jitsu a lever is usually an appendage, like an arm, leg or head that you can use to manipulate your opponent’s weight. You can also use the concept of a lever in the concept of submissions such as an armbar or rear naked choke. 

What types of levers are there?

First, let us define some terms first
The load is the person you are trying to move.
The effort is the force applied to move the person.
The fulcrum (or pivot) is the point where the load is pivoted.
I might have this completely wrong but for me, this is how I would classify levers in BJJ.

Class 1 – Sweeps –  fulcrum placed between the effort and load

In this case, your butt is the fulcrum, the lever is your leg(Usually), their weight is the load and your power is the effort. 

Class 2 – Passes – load between the effort and the fulcrum

In this case, their butt is the fulcrum, the lever is their leg(Usually), their weight is the load and your power is the effort. So usually you are pulling up on the heel to get their weight to go back. 

Class 3 – Gi Pulls or Arm Pulls- Effort between the load and the fulcrum.

These are concepts like arm drags where you are using the effort and load are going in the same direction. 

Can a lever become a frame?

Yes! Most of the time you want to make frames into levers and levers into frames. 

Rob Biernacki “We want to use frames and levers against our opponent, and deny the use of them to our opponent. We seek to change frames into levers and levers into frames.”

How can I do this?

At the core of it once you have achieved the maximum amount of rotation on the lever you can then turn it into a frame. So an arm drag is a great example of this. You rotate their upper body with the lever then pin it in place with a frame. 

When your opponent has a frame on you. You have to detach from the frame or break the frame. You can do this by pulling away from the frame or by getting the frame to hinge at a joint. At this time you can use their frame as a lever to manipulate their body.