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Position before Submission: What if noob can't get to position?

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    Position before Submission: What if noob can't get to position?

    This past open mat I was thinking about all the things I say over and over again to new people just starting out. I thought I'd jot it down here. Most people understand position before submission but don't understand how to get to position. There are some basic tenets.

    While this is far from sticky level writing…it would be nice to have something like this for noobs to refer to. I find most of the problems new people run into come from these concepts rather than the specific movements of a certain technique.

    1 - Breathe.
    If you can't roll for more than 2 minutes because you are spazzing out and afraid, you will never learn anything. If I can see the veins on your forhead throbbing, you are probably working too hard. This means I have time to watch your veins and am not worried. Try breathing, resetting position. If you get subbed…well that’s ok. Learn from it, reset and start again. The more you see the more you can get used to defending.

    2 - Keep your arms in.
    This is a little difficult for beginners to get. The natural inclination is to push as hard as possible to get someone off of you. The time in which arms are fully extended should be minimal. When arms are extended they should be protected by legs or you should be in such a position that your opponnt cannot extend your arms fully. This is a general guideline of couse, just like everything. But even with something like getting underhooks, you want your elbows at least trying to come by your sides. Having your arms in as an instinct will prevent quite a few arm bars and triangles.

    These 2 are the basics. Once they get these I move on the the next two.

    3 - Go back to the hips
    In order to apply a submission to a joint, the joint above it needs to be immobilized.


    Often new people will attempt kimuras or americanas from inside the guard. I usually show them how lack of hip control makes it near impossible to finish the submission. This same idea goes for position, but almost in reverse. If you think about passing the guard, you need to controll the legs and move to the hips, or control the upper body and move to the hips. Once the hips are managed you can move back out to the limbs.

    4 - If you are holding me...
    Think about why you are holding on to someone. Do not just hold on for dear life. There are a few reasons why this is important.
    a. You will get tired. Trying to hold on with your dear life will make your arms and heart tire quickly. This leads back to point one.
    b. If you are holding on tight to me, you are transmitting a lot of information about your intentions. Experienced players can hold a lapel or sleeve with a firm grip but loosely enough to be deceptive. Grabbing on tightly allows me to know when/where you are moving to
    c. If you are holding on for dear life, that is one less weapon which is free to attack. Again, there is a difference between holding on in order to go for a submission and holding on just because you fear what will happen when you let go. You will see guys hold the headlick for eternity even as things start to go drastically against them.
    d. It is hard to learn if you don’t move. Don’t worry if they guy gets side control on you. If the only way you are preventing the mount is by strong arming the guy off of you, you are not working technique you are weightlifting.

    The final two things I tell people.

    5 – Don’t think about pulling and pushing the whole way.
    Trying to move someone who just doesn’t want to move is just going to make you tired. If you need to close distance, think about moving yourself at least half of the distance. You see a lot of scissor sweeps in which the one on bottom tries to pull the guy on top of him from a foot away. Pull yourself under the top guy as you pull him closer. This will enable you to use your hips more than your arms and legs.
    (added) I was trying to think of a good example to demonstrate this. Last night we were working from guard defenses and worked on the arm drag. Despite what the name implies, you don't just pull or drag your opponent on to you and over. You pull yourself into them as well to make yourself tight. Tryng to pull your opponent onto you during an arm drag is only going to make them lock down.

    6 - People are like barrels not blocks.
    It is easier to move in place than to try to create space by flipping. Shrimping practice is important because it helps develop moving in the same space. Being able to move yourself to create space rather than moving your opponent will help you gain the position you are striving for. Even though you might be mounted it is still far easier to roll yourself in place than it is to push your opponent off of you.
    Last edited by cyrijl; 4/15/2008 7:26am, .

    awesome post I will read it over and over until I no longer suck at bjj


      if i may add something...

      when you got side control or mount...sink your hips!

      when you sink your hips you add weight onto your opponent. when there's weight on him/her they can't move their hips as freely which allows you to stuff their attempts to pull guard/escape and gives you the time you need to work on your sub.

      too many times i see people (and i'm guilty of this too) with their asses in the air and a whole lot of daylight between them and their opponent, when you minimize the space you make it that much harder for the person on the bottom to move and defend your game.


        Originally posted by cyrijl
        While this is far from sticky level writing . . .
        Not really. Excellent explanation of some basic concepts.
        Shut the hell up and train.


          I agree that is an issue. But learning how to become heavy is something that comes much later. When I was thinking about the above, it was from the point of view of "How do we get into some position?" The dropped hips are very important something I still have alot of trouble with (cuz i roll like too nice of a guy).

          I have recently begun to re-evaluate my game and the above is the standard I am using to develop my new inner curriculum. Basically I am working my way from guard to back mount. I solidified my guard, spent about a month working mostly half-guard. Now I am transitioning into using side control.


            Thanks for these tips, very helpful


              Agreed. Thanks for posting these up!


                Very cool. No. 6 is a great way to explain that positional decision.


                  i know what you are saying about re-evaluating your game.

                  i am really not happy with how i did last tourney, i still got gold, but i wrestled like shit and my takedowns could have been 100 times cleaner.

                  but my coach told me one thing and it totally opened up my game, it's a day one thing that never sunk in....ready for it?......."pass with the knee up"

                  it sounds silly but i JUST got it!


                    As a general rule, if you can immobilize their hips, you immobilize their attacks, defenses, escapes...(in guard, they can't attack if they can't move their hips, in side control they can't shrimp out.)

                    Also, in mount, if you lift the head slightly, its harder to upa. Not can opening them, just a slight nudge.

                    I think if you went through and sorta told some of the goals from each position, that would be pretty snazzy indeed.


                      This was mainly to have some simple points to keep in mind. Havin something that is too long or too detailed makes it hard to keep with you when you roll. Each point here is simple enough to remember.

                      There are alot of books which discuss positional tips. But I think my greates strength in BJJ is my ability to analyze overall situations. I often say "I don't know alot of moves, but I can make stuff up all the time as I go." I can't remember when I actually got a regular arm bar or triangle from a traditional set up.

                      I have some ideas that i'd like to put down soon regarding fighting for position, I just need to get the thoughts in my head straight.


                        I really like how you illustrated #6.
                        We were working on that from in mount last night, you put it into words perfectly.


                          Very good post. Sticky worhty.


                            This will be a great sticky for all the beginning grapplers out there. If I may add (in my personal opinion):

                            -"Jolt" instead of "Shove", "Jerk" instead of "Pull"
                            i.e. When cross-faced from Side Control, frame out and make space for shrimping by exerting quick, short "jolts" instead of a long, sustained "push". When playing neck control from kneeling or standing, "jerk" the arm/neck instead of a committed "pull".

                            This is REALLY helpful when facing stronger opponents, as these types of motions are effective regardless of your overall strength.

                            -No Passive Position
                            Newbs get lazy/winded and tend to stall in any position they can. This may work for point tournies...but shouldn't be trained. Instead, EACH position should be held with continual pressure and continual motion...even if there is no attached sweep/counter per motion. If possible, apply pressure in different ways to create openings.

                            i.e. Guard - Keep pressure tight (but not gotard tight), alternate between overhooks, underhooks, neck control, arm control, etc... Control the elbow even if you have no intention of forcing an armbar. Control the neck from plum even if you have no intention of transitioning to guillotine. Transition to double underhooks even if you have no intention of moving to butterfly guard.

                            The idea (as a newb) is to apply constant light pressure to continually keep your opponent defending. Many new guys get in the "Survivor" mentality and spend their rolling sessions constantly defending.


                              I am going to add that to the piece I am working on next.



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