Bjj legend Renzo Gracie famously said that “sometimes you are the hammer, sometimes you are the nail”. The “nail” part is particularly true in your first year of training when you are likely getting tapped frustratingly often!
Bear in mind that everyone goes through this and as one accumulates mat time, the ratio begins to switch. Promises of future success are all great, but if you are getting submitted often you need something to help you NOW!
Here are several tips to help you counter your opponent’s submissions:
1) Understand the submission attacks themselves
If you learn to do the triangle, you will learn all of the elements and mechanics that your opponent needs to submit you. Set a goal to perform 500 repetitions of the triangle this month. You had better believe that you will develop an intimate knowledge of how the triangle works.
Ask these questions!
When you attempt your own triangles, what are the important parts?
How are your training partners countering your own triangles?
What are they doing that is making it difficult for you to finish the triangles?
When do your attacks fail and which situations are they successful?
When their posture is upright and they keep their elbows in, you have difficulty attacking them. There is your clue. Now you have practical knowledge of what makes a successful submission and how to NOT give your opponent those elements.
2) Learn a “bread and butter” counter for each major submission
Learning things like posture and base is admittedly not as interesting as the fancy techniques and submissions. That said, your black belt professor is going to be valuable in helping you learn the specific counters to the most common submissions. Instead of trying to learn every counter to the straight arm lock from mount, learn 1 counter technique WELL.
read also: Why It is Ok To Do Fancy Techniques!
That said, your black belt professor is going to be valuable in helping you learn the specific counters to the most common submissions. Instead of trying to learn every counter to the straight arm lock from mount, learn 1 counter technique WELL.
In your first year of training bjj the amount of techniques that one needs to learn is overwhelming. By concentrating on the highest percentage counter, you will maximize your training efforts.
* When I ask some students if they have any questions for their bjj, many times they shrug their shoulders. I ask “Did you get submitted the last time you rolled?”
Inevitably the answer is “Yes, I got choked / kimura’d 4 times!”
“Well, don’t you think you should investigate the counters?” I ask rhetorically.
Then we study the best way to prevent and then counter the submission.
3) “Don’t get there in the first place”
“How do I get out of the FILL-IN-SUBMISSION-HERE?”
The instructor laughs and replies simplistically “Don’t get there in the first place!” This is an answer that has given many times at a seminar followed by laughs by the attendees.
It is a flippant and unsatisfying response, but it is also true in many situations. I heard a story where a student asked “How do I escape when the opponent has me in rear mount and the rear naked choke fully locked?”
The instructor, as the story goes replied “That is like asking that someone has a gun pointed at you, the trigger has been pulled and the bullet on its path towards you. What do you do?” Everyone laughed but the point was made.
It is better to prevent the situation from happening in the first place than attempt to escape from a disadvantaged position.
Example: Have you been getting bow and arrow choked too many times recently?
Yes, you need to learn the counter to the choke. But more importantly, ask yourself the question “How am I giving up my back and allowing my opponent to set up the attack?” If we were to rewind the video of the match, we can usually spot a mistake that happened LONG before the tap.
Instead of a sound positional escape, you likely surrendered your back which lead to the bow and arrow choke. A better decision earlier would have eliminated the situation before it even started!
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia