Apr 16, 2008

Position Before Submission: The Basic Tenets of Grappling

This was a member post from cyrijl at Bullshido.net. I felt it was a wonderful read, had something to offer to any grappling practitioner. Please read, and take the advice to heart. For the original post:

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 forehead 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 course, 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 control 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 headlock 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. Trying 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.


ldegroot said...

Good post. The basics can be the toughest thing to master. I have interactive videos on my blog, if anyone cares to check them out.

Pelayo said...

Very good post.