Category Archives: Submission Wrestling

Breathe man, breathe.

And just when I wrote about being too tired to write about what happens at the gym I have probably one of the best trainings in the last year. ūüėÄ

There we only three people in our submission wrestling class; me, my long time friend and a returnee white belt. So we ditched the technique part and just sparred the whole class through. It was just awesome. There was no excessive use of force and everyone was just rolling and trying out new things.

My fails yesterday came in the form of a reminder why you should do nogi / submission wrestling. When you do just BJJ you get too comfortable with using the gi as help to your technique. Then you’re just lost when you don’t have those. It took me a few rounds to remember how to do my techniques without gripping cloth…


I took part in our submission wrestling class. I usually don’t go there due to my time schedules, but this time I missed my regular class so I wanted to catch up.

We started the sparring standing up. Now doing stand is usually one of my strong points, but this time I kept missing my takedowns. The reason for this: everyone was really slippery with out gis. So I was going for my throws and slapping my ass on the mat all night because my grips slipped.

Going for armbars? Slipping grips.

Doing basically anything? Slip and slide, baby.


What’s your game plan

A game plan. This is something all of us need. Without it we’re just groping in the dark hoping to find something that will help us on the mat. I usually end the season teaching something I’ve called routing and that I have been doing this season also.

It’s just a string.

So, a route is the way you are going to get from A to B. It’s also a sequence of techniques. Once you have a route you are not just doing a technique, then another technique, then another but you’re stringing them together. First I start by asking someone what’s their best submission. Then where it comes from. That give you the point B. Then point A is what ever position you happen to be in.

For example, for a long time my game plan was to go for an armbar from the knee on stomach. That was my point B. That was (and still is) my favorite target to go for.

So if your best submission comes from the mount then that is where you’re going. And how do you usually get to the mount? Maybe with a sweep from the closed guard? Or maybe from the side mount? How’d you get there? See where this is going? I personally like to back track every route first. There’s no particular reason, but I think it’s easier to comprehend when you start from your goal and work your way backwards. You don’t get that caught up with the different possibilities and loose sight of the you point B.

My game plan?

Here’s my current game plan.

Plan A, starting from stand up: get the grips for a hip throw and throw. Take the side mount, which is natural after the throw. Go for the back mount (yes I’m currently working to better my back mount). RNC or armbar.

Plan B, if I can’t get the hip throw, then a sacrifice throw. Roll it to the mount. Basic lapel choke or armbar.

Plan C, oh you get the picture…

A game plan isn’t that hard to create. You just need to know what you’re good at. If you’re competing then it becomes a wee bit more tricky as you have to take into account what the other guy is good at. But it’s still the same principle. Those game plans I’ve shown up there are the ideal versions. It’s the versions where I’m doing it with a dummy. The amount of the steps I need to take before reaching my goal varies, but my goal doesn’t. If we end up in something different then I just work towards my point B. It’s not rocket science.

So, what’s your game plan?

Acrobatics – that confusing stuff

There’s a lot of talk about flexibility and strength and how they help you in doing grappling. But I’ve always felt the need for basic acrobatics training since acrobatics has helped me, a nonflexible regular 30-something guy, to be better at rolling. Usually people do the stuff that are natural to the sport (like shrimping) which is a good thing, but I like to do more. And here’s why.

If you’re like me, you aren’t a world class athlete to start with.

A lot of guys who come to the gym do so for the first time in a long while. Or even if they’ve done other sports their body only knows the movement paths of that sport. They start a new hobby and learn the basics. After some time their body starts to learn new movement paths and they actually learn them. But then you throw them something new and they’re at a loss. And that’s perfectly normal since most of us don’t train our body to work in different kinds of situations. Hence the acrobatics.

Know your own frigging body.

For me, doing acrobatics is one the most important things. It’s one of the best ways to teach yourself how your body works. It puts you into positions where you actually have to think about what the heck your muscles are doing (they’re probably blaming your for their conundrum to the muscles of the guy you just fell on while trying to cartwheel). When it comes to movement paths versatility is¬† must. Take a look at gymnasts and parkour runners. You can basically throw anything at them and they will know how to move.

Wow, how’d that get in there…

But seriously, a few examples:

So what’s this got to do with BJJ, SW, MMA?

Think about it; how many times you’ve come across positions or techniques that leave you scratching your head? I can say I’ve run into a lot of them. Usually the reason they left me baffled was the fact that I couldn’t get my body to go in the direction it needed to go. Meaning, I didn’t know how my muscles should work.

You can teach your body and muscles to do what you want it to do. I use acrobatics for this. I have three different kinds of ways to train acrobatics; basic moves, sequences and balance exercises.

Training single moves.

This is your basic kind of training; you do one type of move at a time, usually several times while moving across the gym. My basic routine consists of rolls (on the ground, front and back), dive rolls (classic and rolling over the shoulder version), log rolls, cartwheels and jumping (from standing still, both feet on the ground and single foot on the ground). I also like to do the S-mount walk.

My routine usually has some type of animal movement as well. My preferred animals are monkey, bear¬†(need to start making people do this¬†version as well), rabbit¬†(Yes, that’s right. It’s a bunny. Do we have a problem here?)¬†and seal.¬†I also do single moves in place. Handstands (usually against the wall), forward steps in push up position, 180 degree triangle choke rolls.

All these I found to really help me with basic movement. With them I feel I can control my body better.

Sequence that stuff.

Once I got really familiar with the moves I mentioned previously I started to sequence them. Do cartwheels so that you change your side between one. Combine different rolls. Combine them with cartwheel. And the animals. And with whatever you can think of.

I like sequences because they also really rack your brain as well as your muscles. The weirder the combination the better. The more you really have to think about how the heck are you going to get into the starting position of the next move, the more you learn. Because you’re trying to go for the smoothest way to transition between two awkward positions. Which is pretty much what you do in BJJ all the time.

Balancing  it out.

Balance is an essential thing for basically any sportsman. For this I’ve always preferred training like the kids. You know, where ever you are with what you have there. Are you walking on a sidewalk? Don’t. Walk on the stones between the sidewalk and the road. Go to the woods. Skip from rock to rock, walk on tree roots, try not to touch the ground. I like to train my balance while moving and not static postures (which are good as well, don’t get me wrong). Playgrounds are good as well. They usually have a bunch of contraptions that adults can also use. Which you can totally use to train your balance. Don’t worry about looking weird, you totally will but who cares.

And lastly, a (im)practical application of acrobatics:

Yeah, definitely going to have to learn that last one.

Sometimes you just give up the back

I was sparring with my master in a submission wrestling class. He took the half guard, I out of habit went for the cross pass. Knee down past my masters leg, grab the arm, ass on the ground, slide the foot out. I was feeling great about the pass until I hear my master laughing out loud and then this:

“Do you think I’m going to tap in this shit position?”

And with that he had my back and a rear naked choke. And the tap from me.

Turns out I forgot to underhook him.