Position Before Submission


If you have so much as one stripe on your white belt, you’ve probably heard the rule, “Position before submission!” In other words, you do not attempt a submission until you have achieved a dominant position on the ground.

It’s a good rule of thumb for the student who thinks she can do a cross collar choke while under her opponent’s full mount.

But for some students, this rule can be a bit vague; therefore, I would like to expand on it and discuss two very common mistakes that many less-experienced students make when attacking submissions.

1) They are in a hurry

This is by far the most common error I see experienced white belts make when attacking submissions!

For example, they have just passed the guard and find themselves in side control. But instead of taking a moment to stabilize the position and identify how the opponent is going to try to escape, they try to attack immediately.

Unfortunately, without having secured the side control first, the opponent is free to move and start their escape.

Often, the rushed submission not only fails, but the opponent escapes and replaces their guard.

Stabilize your position and control the opponent before trying your submission!

Be patient!

2) They do not control the submission position

Let’s say that you are attacking the straight arm lock from the mount. You can just grab the arm and fall back and pull, hoping to get the tap before the opponent is able to wriggle out of the position (which often fails) . . .

. . . or you can study how you use your grips, pressure, and angles to prevent the opponent from escaping.

The opponent will try the “hitchhiker” escape from the arm lock, but you have controlled their pants (or “spider web” control), you have crossed your ankles to control the far arm, and you have applied heavy pressure with your top leg to control the opponent’s head. There is not one inch of space for the opponent to escape.

Ronda Rousey was expert at this. She would secure her arm lock grip and then control the opponent as she worked on breaking their defensive grip.

You must control your opponent’s position throughout the actual submission as well.

This is one of the secrets of black belts.

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