Table of Contents

Priority number one: Retain position


I see it all the time. A Jiu Jitsu student has a dominant position but loses it attempting to hit a submission.

We all want to get the tap. I get it. Most of us that train Jiu Jitsu are competitive, so when we see an opening we enthusiastically go for it. Problem is, it all too often results in a loss of position. And no submission.

Here’s a rule I try to live by: Attempt submissions only when the possibility of losing the position is low and/or the loss can be recovered from relatively easily.

I only make a couple exceptions to this rule:

1. When the clock is running out and I need to try to make something happen.

2. If I’m rolling playfully. In that case the goal is to exchange positions, so I don’t care where I end up.

If I’m rolling more competitively, the objective is always to achieve and retain positional dominance. The submission is secondary.

If you are relatively new to BJJ, your focus should be on learning to positionally control someone. As positional control improves it eventually becomes positional dominance. That’s when your opponents will be under such stifling control that any move they attempt ends up making their situation worse. Every movement tightens the noose. That’s when submissions will happen much more reliably.

As Roy Dean says: The submission is just the punctuation mark in a strategy of eliminating movement options from your opponent.

Eliminate movement options. If you can do that, the submission will happen more organically, and without the risk of positional loss.

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