The Almost-Blue Belt Mistake – Don't Be in a Hurry!

Take your time. Get your control first. Then go for submission.”

I teach bjj classes in two different academies and have a large number of students of different belt ranks and levels of experience. An instructor who sees the students everyday can start to identify patterns that are common among students of similar levels.


I want to share something I have observed among some students who were getting close to their blue belts. read also: Are You Ready For Your Blue belt?

They were in a rush in the top position and would far too often lose the top when they hurried their submission attack.

After passing the guard the students would find themselves in either side mount or top mount position. Immediately, they would attack a submission. Sometimes getting the tap, but more often, sacrificing their balance and control and getting reversed to the bottom or the opponent recovering guard.

How discouraging to waste all of that effort to pass the opponents guard and find yourself in a submission position only to lose it all and start all over again on the bottom! I call this “lunging” for the submission. You have not established control over your opponent and try desperately to grab the submission before your opponent escapes.

read also: Position Before Submission

My advice is simple and easy to follow: “Take your time. Get your control first. Then go for submission.” When I am watching the rolling and spot the student achieve mount, I coach them to “Be patient. Stabilize the position. Flatten them out.”

I have witnessed students effectiveness and submissions dramatically improve after implementing this advice. Why is this seeming simple advice so effective?

Because when you first arrive in the top position, the opponent will immediately explode with their best escape technique. They don’t want to be there!

leozaoThe best time for them to escape is BEFORE you have secured your hold. If you skip securing your best grips and weight placement, and try to “lunge” for a submission, they will likely succeed in escaping.

Instead, take your time. Be patient. Establish your position and base on top. Counter their escape attempts and then attack with your armlock or choke when your timing is right!

Watch your submission success go way up and keep your hard fought top positions.

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ