Most jiu-jitsu students need little encouragement to work on their favorite submissions. Most jiu-jitsu addicts fell in love with the art and sport when they learned some submission techniques that actually worked in rolling. Then they were hooked!
However, we know that submissions are actually only a minor part of a jiu-jitsu match between two opponents of comparable skill and experience. Most tournament matches for example are contested in who can pass the other’s guard and who can maintain and attack from their guard. There are black belt matches at the world level where not a single submission was attempted the entire 10-minute match. Are these black belts deadly with their submissions? Of course! However, neither competitor was able to secure a dominant position in order to attack as their opponent made sure not to surrender a position.
If this is the case and there are other important areas of our game, what should jiu-jitsu students be working on if merely drilling triangle chokes and arm bars is not enough?
Here are 3 important areas of your BJJ game that are often overlooked. Analyze your own game and it is likely that one or all of the following areas could use some focused attention to bring them up to the level of the rest of your jiu-jitsu game.
BJJ Guard Retention
1. Guard retention. Specific techniques can be easy to overlook and not as easy to identify as the submissions or sweeps from the guard. However, if you cannot control your opponent in your guard and keep them from passing your legs, you will never get a chance to attack with your favorite triangle.
Watch black belts in competition and you will think their guard is 99% passed and they will quickly transition back to guard or secure a hook out of nowhere and restore the guard.
You need to drill the guard retention moves before they will become instinctive in a match. Learn how to make hooks, use grips and use hip movement to retain and replace your guard.
2. Takedowns. Jiu-jitsu students can neglect their takedowns without thinking much about it because the majority of rolling in bjj class starts with bumping fists from the knees and going immediately to ground work. We see competitors in tournaments not even attempt a takedown, deciding to pull guard as soon as they get a grip.
Let’s face it: training takedowns is just plain hard work!
Competitors looking for any edge against tough opponents may find their takedowns to be the difference in a closely contested match. World Championships have been won by 2 points from a takedown.
To have a well-rounded jiu-jitsu game, you must have a basic knowledge of a few of your favorite takedowns and the confidence that you can make them work.
3. Grips. We don’t think a lot about grips when we first start jiu-jitsu. You just reach out and grab whatever part of the gi that you can get, and go right into the moves.
The more you experience, the more you gain in jiu-jitsu. Grips and breaking your opponent’s grips will start to become more significant. Watch Olympic level judo fighters furiously work to get their preferred grips for their best throws. Watch black belt guard passers immediately break the sleeve and collar grips of the guard they are working to pass. A single tactical grip can be the deciding factor in a match.
The next time you are passing guard, pay special attention to your opponent’s grips and notice how they are employing those grips to break your balance and tie you up. You need to start paying attention to the grip fighting aspect of jiu-jitsu.
This content was obtained from GracieBarra.com. What part of your jiu-jitsu game do you feel needs the most work?