When we’re looking to have a complete jiu-jitsu game, we need to pay attention to takedowns, be proficient in both top and bottom games, practice our defense, learn submission counters and drill our escapes. We also need to be aware of holes in your game and put in some work before those holes become gaping canyons.
All that said, nothing excites us as much as getting some success with a specific submission (or sweep) that we can catch on many different training partners.This is the BJJ equivalent of boxing’s knockout punch. Our own Mirko “Cro Cop” left head kick of death. Dan Henderson’s “H Bomb” which has put more people to sleep than Ambien. The match finisher.
When I see students training their best moves (particularly before a competition), I am fond of using an expression that I heard somewhere, “Sharpening your sword”. The main offensive weapon that you will carry into battle with you.
Next week at my academy, we have a plan to sharpen everyone’s swords. The individual student will select the submission they want to focus on. It won’t be the same for everyone in the class. Time to work on your own game.
1) Drill your technique for reps.
Unless you have access to open mat time at your school or, like a true BJJ addict, have mats in an extra room in your place, you don’t get much opportunity to drill your techniques.
You will drill your entry and execution with precision in ALL of the details of your submission. You will repeat on BOTH sides (so you aren’t a right side only specialist). You should try the technique on different partners so you get a feel for different body sizes and limb lengths.
As you drill, ask your partner to gradually increment their resistance to more closely mimic real rolling conditions.
2) Learn and practice the counters.
When you want to deeply learn a submission, you also need a thorough understanding of how your opponent is going to try to stop you. Go through the most effective counters to your best submission. Understand what your opponent is thinking so you can eliminate any opening for escape and not be caught by surprise when they make their move to escape. If you know they require a certain grip or are looking to create space, deny them what they need as part of your attack.
Understanding the counters to your best submission is essential when you encounter the inevitable resistance.
3) Setups and combinations.
When your opponent has experience, it is likely they will quickly identify most of your straightforward attacks. Grandmaster Helio Gracie said that since the defense is always faster than the attack, it is easier to defend than to complete a submission.
If our opponent knows the counters, how do we get the submission? Hit it faster? Spend more time in the weight room so we are stronger and can break a defensive grip? Unlikely to solve the problem for long.
The solution is to setup your attack first. A boxer seldom knocks out the other fighter with a single punch. Punches are thrown in combination to setup the BIG punch to land.
The secret is to follow with your jiu-jitsu submissions. There are classic submission combinations like cross collar choke / straight arm lock from the mount, but there are limitless combinations in jiu-jitsu. The important thing is to understand that a change in strategy is necessary. Study the combinations and attack chains for your best submission and your success rate will improve. No more single attacks.
What is your “go to” submission?