6 Steps to Fix a Hole in Your Game

Whether fixing a technical problem in your bjj game or adding a new technique or position that you want to experiment with, you can find a remedy with the help of your instructor. Here is the 6-step method I use to incorporate a new technique or fix a weak spot in my game.


In this example, we will use the butterfly guard.

1) Identify the problem.

A specific situation with my butterfly guard retention and ability to sweep:

After replacing my guard I arrive in butterfly guard and sometimes get the hook sweep but many times my opponent is able to pass and flatten me out.

How can I stop this from happening?

Flavio-Almeida-GB-Dana-Point2) Show your instructor and ask advice.

Bring the specific sparring situation to the attention of your instructor and show them the exact problem.

You have to replicate and demonstrate exactly what is happening so the instructor can “diagnose” what is going wrong. If the technique is performed correctly, it should work!

Likely, there is a technical solution to why my butterfly guard is being passed and the sweep being easily countered.

3) The advice.

The cause of the problem: What did your opponent do? 

My opponent was able to put his weight down low and I was unable to get hook sweep and then after he countered my sweep, he pushed me back, flattening me out and then passed.

The technical solution: The mechanics of my sweep were not 100% correct. Two tips: 1) I needed better grips with which to unbalance the opponent (“grab here instead”) and 2) move your hips out a little to create the correct angle.

194) Go back to the laboratory and try the new solution.

In the next training session, try the new advice. I try the different grip and the hip movement to create a better angle.

My success rate is a little higher, but a new problem emerges: The opponent is able to base halfway through the sweep and counter one third of the time.

I can transition to an Xguard or deep half guard, but I am missing something in the original technique.

What am I missing?

5) Refine the new advice.

I return to the instructor in a 3rd class and say “I tried the advice you gave me and had some success. But I experienced this new problem. What am I doing wrong?” 

Repeat your movement and show the opponent’s new counter.

The refined diagnosis and solution: “You have the correct grip and hip movement, but you are trying to sweep in the wrong direction! Change the direction of where you are trying to put your opponent’s weight.”

Ah ha!

DSC_21966) Bring it back to the mat.

The 4th class I try my refined hook sweep technique and am experiencing a far higher success rate in completing the sweep and getting to the top position!

Thanks for the advice, Professor!

You can see that oftentimes a problem in your bjj game will require some experimentation and involve several steps before you have corrected it.

But there IS a solution to your problem. Try this method of refining pieces of your own game.

Credits: Mark Mullen 

Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan

Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ