BJJ Epiphanies

Wow, it’s been rather long since I’ve last posted! I got promoted at work recently, which means more money, but it also means more things to do. So, any amount of time (short lunch break) I have is usually spent watching matches and researching technique. I, however, finally got a break to write something for the blog that I hope will be helpful to whomever might come across it.

I would love to take credit for these “epiphanies”, but they’re mostly derived from posts off of several different forums. Since I found them extremely interesting and good, I saved them in a document. I’ve re-written most of them to make sense and to flow better, along with adding in my own two cents, but the concepts are not mine. Enjoy!

  1. Grip Fighting: I believe one of the most overlooked aspects of BJJ is grip fighting. No one really talks about it, but it’s extremely important and frankly I need to employ it more often. So, what is grip fighting? Well, it’s exactly as it sounds. It’s fighting for grips. It’s not allowing your opponent to attain his desired grips, but it’s also working to get your own grips. If you really think about it, grips are extremely fundamental to just about every technique. Think about chokes, armlocks, passes, sweeps, etc. How many do you do without grips? I can’t think of many. So, if you keep your opponent from setting themselves up for a technique, by breaking their grips, what do they have left to do? You’re basically stopping your opponent before they get started. So, don’t forget it. Grip fighting is important.
  2. Chaining: I’ve actually spoken about this before in previous posts and it’s really works both ways in relation to offense and defense. When rocking back and forth between two or three techniques, the cracks in an opponents defenses will get wider and wider. This then allows you to accomplish something that you couldn’t before. This becomes even more important against skilled opponents, as they are often hard to attack or escape from. They are very aware of your movements and are good at avoiding anything that puts them in a bad situation. However, if they are forced to move and defend, they will most likely open themselves up to more attacks/escapes and as I said before, the cracks in their defenses will get wider making it easier.
  3. No Resting: The title for this one sounds somewhat harsh, but it really isn’t when I explain it. Always keep working when in a bad position. If you were stuck in mount and escaped to half guard, but are now flattened out in half guard, don’t stop and go “Whew! I escaped the mount”. Even though you escaped a terrible position, you are still in a bad one. Do not rest till you are in a good one.
  4. Movement: This concept is often not discovered until higher up, but hopefully this simple, but game changing concept will help those just starting out. Usually, when people are new and have to focus mainly on escapes, they mostly work on moving their opponent. But, this is not always the right thing to do. In fact, it’s much easier to move your own body. When you’re winning, you’re working to get rid of space. When you’re losing, you must create space. If you focus on moving yourself and not your opponent, when trying to escape a bad position, it will most likely a make a big difference on your bottom game.
  5. Structuring: In architecture there are weak and strong structures. Think of yourself as a building. When underneath, try to turn yourself into a strong structure that cannot be collapsed down by using strong frames. On top, try to position yourself so that you have a strong foundation/base and become an immovable impediment in your opponents way.
  6. T-Rex Arms: When your elbows are in, they are strong. When your elbows are out, they are weak.
  7. Mechanics: Studying the mechanics of submissions and how they work will help you improve your own technique. If you understand why an opponent will tap to a submission, then it is often easier to arrive to that certain point for the tap. This concept is especially helpful when an opponent has good submission defense.
  8. Work Without Ego: Have a position you’re bad at or a submission you want to work on? Do it in rolling, even if you might get passed or placed into a bad position. Rolling is practicing. There is no winning or losing, but only learning.  Sometimes people are just better than you. Look to these moments as learning opportunities. Eventually, after working on your weak points, they will soon become your strengths.
  9. It’s Yours: What’s yours? If you’re going for an armlock, for example, it is no longer your opponents arm. It is your property and it is your job to claim it.
  10. Crossfacing: When crossfacing, it’s good to use your shoulder to make your opponents head face away from you. Because of the twisting this causes on the spine, it then makes it very difficult for your opponent to bridge into you.
  11. Sweeping: Sweeps contain a common thread that makes them work. Trapping one side of an opponents body and then off balancing them makes it easy to sweep in that direction. It’s basic table theory. It is also much easier to sweep by trapping limbs and then applying the correct leverage, instead of thinking of a particular sweep and then trying to trap the limbs. If you are in someone’s guard, remember that if they have two points of control and they off balance you, then you’re going to get swept. Controls can be a foot on the hip, a hook, a grip, a foot on the biceps, etc. If your opponent has two points, then don’t wait, because you must doing something to stop the impending sweep.

If you’re in a guy’s guard remember if he has 3 points of control you’re getting swept. A control could be a foot on the hip, a hook, a grip, grabbing the heel, foot in the biceps, etc. If he has two points, you must still do something – since the third – and the sweep – is coming any second

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