Studying Submission Defense

If you didn’t know, I’m constantly pursuing BJJ forums such as Sherdog, UG and the Jiu-Jitsu Forums and reading all I can. I’ve seen many a thread posted by white belts asking how to get out of certain submissions and so on and so forth. So, I wanted to write a post about my thoughts when it comes to defense.

You might have asked your instructor, “How do I get out of ‘name of submission’?” and he might have replied, “By not getting in an/a/the ‘name of submission’.” Some people sigh at this response, because it’s so obvious, but it’s really setting the correct mindset. When I first heard this as a white belt, I studied some and understood the mindset, but I wasn’t able to figure out how to get there. Now that I actually have, hopefully I can outline the mindset and some resemblance of a way to get there.

The Mindset

Obviously not getting in the submission in the first place is advantageous. If you’re in a submission and trying to escape, you’re playing with fire, so to speak. If you don’t get in the submission at all, then you’re going to be much safer. That’s pretty much a no-brainer. But, how do you not get into a submission? That’s the real question.

Answer: By seeing it coming. If you can see a submission coming, you can stop it before it turns into one.


This part takes some work. I won’t lie to you, but it yields fantastic results! It requires…studying. In order to defeat a submission before it starts, I think you need to do two things.

  1. Need to know submission set-ups. Study how people get to submissions, how they set-up submission and what they do to try and “trick” people into submissions. You can study it by watching video, watching “upper belts” in class and even by rolling and just letting yourself get submitted.
  2. Need to know how submissions work. Often times there are certain steps needed in order to complete a submission and they usually require all of the certain steps to be completed. If you see the submission coming and know the steps, all you literally have to do is stop one step from happening. For example, you need my elbow on your stomach in order to armlock me from the guard. If I see it coming, because of how you are moving and setting up your grips, then I can pull my elbow back in a position where it cannot be armlocked. Therefore, I’ve stopped your armlock just by a simple movement.

Now you might ask, where do I start? Start with whatever submission you get submitted by the most! Study it. Watch it over and over. Learn it. And eventually, you’ll be able to stop it before it starts. And after that, you’ll notice that you’re now getting tapped by a different submission. What do you do? Move on to studying that!

(NOTE: I do encourage the training of actual submission escapes! So, do not abandon them! The concept above is something that’s fantastic to add! Two layers of defense is better than one!)




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