I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine who was expressing his lamentation about not having any “high percentage moves”. High percentage moves are moves that one can successfully execute regularly against fully resisting opponents and training partners. This got me thinking about exactly how I’ve developed the few high percentage moves that I go for in competition, and what the precise formula is by which I was able to do this.
My first high percentage move was my arm bar from closed guard. I chose this because step by step I could set it up on non willing opponents, even ones familiar with the move. It was all about learning each individual micro-transition. Learning these micro-transitions allowed me to sort of “hack” the position, rather than doing big movements that leave a lot of room for escape, I sealed each position to my training partner’s body so that they couldn’t pry their arm away from my as I entered the arm bar.
Once I realized that this was going to be a technique that I was going to assimilate into my game, it was important for me to understand what a person needs to do to defeat the move. No move is infallible, so understanding what another person can do to beat the move allows me to know when I’ve lost the necessary position so I don’t allow my training partner or opponent to advance their position and begin implementing their game. This applies to any and all high percentage moves I’ve learned, understanding the “point of no return” from where I can no longer impose my will is critical.
A high percentage move as a standalone will likely fail you against an intelligent opponent. Once you’ve picked a move to get really good at, pick at least two other moves off of the same position that you can transition to in the event that plan A fails. My arm bar is high percentage, but I’ve hit the subsequent triangle many times, too. Repetition is the key to success, and training the micro transitions between different techniques allows you to learn where the transitions can potentially fail. This sounds familiar!
Since learning that the arm bar from closed guard was a good go to move for me, I found that another good way to pick high percentage moves is to actually get really good at moves that other people consider “low percentage.” This sounds counter-intuitive, but how many people do you think drill defense against moves that they aren’t likely to encounter? Pick a couple of those and get good at them. But don’t abandon your fundamentals in the process.
What are some techniques you’ve found are good “high percentage moves” and how did you begin to gain an understanding of them? Watching high level grapplers, very often you see patterns. There are certain setups that seem to work better than others. However, this is after all a martial art. Make it your own but also try to find ways to make the most of your time.