When I first got into Brazilian Jiujitsu and Grappling many years ago, it was because of Mixed Martial Arts. Like many others I was a stand up Striker and saw the value of grappling from the earlier UFC tournament shows back in 1993. Back then submissions became all the rage and I can remember when people started teaching submissions at many martial arts schools as grappling. This began my grappling training and although it took a little while before qualified Jiujitsu instructors started popping up everywhere, it taught me a very valuable lesson.
Which leads me to a concept that’s very hard for most beginners to get.
Not that it’s really complicated, it’s actually quite simple, but because it goes against the simple strategy that most beginners think BJJ is about. The “Grappling means submitting your opponent” strategy.
Most that begin Jiujitsu are quickly taught that position is everything. +team +building This is very important but the value of escapes sometimes gets neglected. Most beginners still get caught up in the “get the submission” mindset. But some of the most important skills anyone starting in Brazilian Jiujitsu can develop are their escapes.
This is especially true for MMA training as well as BJJ.
When I first started thinking about strategy in my BJJ game, I did the same thing most do, I thought how can I submit my opponents as fast as possible. This became the focus of my training. And so I had to learn the hard way that developing a solid game in BJJ involves a lot more than submissions and setting them up. It involves controlling the position and even more importantly escaping bad positions and regaining the advantageous position.
Once I figured this out I thought I had it ALL figured out…
But I was wrong.
There was something missing when I would try to actually escape a bad position. Many times my more advanced opponents would be able to overwhelm and prevent my escaping and set up a submission. You see, even though I knew how important this was and developed my escapes, there was still something missing.
I then watched the others who were successful at escaping carefully. From watching them I quickly realized not only the importance of being able to escape but also that in order to effectively escape bad positions you need to focus on 2-3 different escapes, master them, and work at linking between the escapes to combine them and out think your opponents. The same approach can be applied to your submission game. Although mastering escapes should be higher on your priority list than mastering submissons and set ups. The reason for this is simple. If your opponents can out position you then your whole submission game won’t come into play.
And if you train in for MMA than this is even more important. Watch carefully at how many fights end because a fighter gets stuck in a position and is either stopped with strikes or submitted. You’ll quickly understand how important a role escapes play in Mixed Martial Arts.
So to recap:
-Pick 2-3 escapes from each position.
-Master the technical aspects of the escapes.
-Work your timing against an opponent while sparring.
-Put your escapes together in combinations to get comfortable at setting them up.