I recall discussing a seminar with a buddy who had attended the seminar a high ranking jiu-jitsu master.
One of the seminar participants had asked “How do I counter this submission?”4
The bjj master replied flippantly “Don’t get there in the first place!” apparently displeased with the question.
This was an unsatisfying answer to many of the seminar attendees who were expecting a detailed, technical escape.
And at the time I thought it was a bit of a jerk thing to reply to a student who had paid to come to a seminar.
However, several years later teaching many different students, I find myself more often wanting to give the same answer.
Perhaps a more diplomatic way to answer it comes from the respected Kurt Osiander to such questions:
“Bro..you F#@(*&^d up a LONG time ago!”
What Kurt is saying is that the student who finds themselves in a compromising position should have PREVENTED the situation from ever happening in the first place.
It was a mistake they made in a previous position that resulted in their current situation.
A student caught in a tight side control – with “shoulder of justice” / hard cross face is asking how to escape a dominant position.
This is a tough one!
A better answer would be for the student to have:
1) Earlier accepted that their guard was being passed and changed grips to retain guard and abandon their triangle / sweep
2) Not allow the passer to control their head tightly during the pass and replace the guard BEFORE the tight side control was established
Royce Gracie reportedly was asked at a seminar “How do I escape a rear naked choke that is completely locked in?”
Royce smiled and replied “That is like saying that someone is pointing a gun at your head, the trigger pulled and the bullet on its way down the barrel! It is too late!”
Another example would be: “How do I counter my opponent’s armlock from the guard?”
There ARE counters where you protect your arm and stack the opponent to remove the arm and you should learn them.
But the “Don’t get there” advice would be even better!
Don’t allow your opponent to cross your arm across their body. Keep a solid posture. Block the guard player from moving their hips.
It is better to shut down their attack before it even gets started.
When an instructor gives that “Don’t get there” advice, consider that there might in fact be validity to the glib response!