JIU JITSU POSITIONS
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly energetic and complex Martial Art, that involves a series of transitional movements, dominant control positions, and a large number of submissions like chokeholds, and joint locks. There is usually a bjj hierarchy of positions, meaning that certain control positions are extensively more dominant than others. There are quite a few control positions that BJJ practitioners will utilize, as these positions are the cornerstone for setting up attacks from.
There has always been a divide in the community about which jiu jitsu techniques and positions are the most dominant. Some will say the mount, others will say side control, but considering how dangerous a rear naked choke can be, securing back control would have to be the most dominant position in BJJ. Each control position has a variety of modified versions, as each of them play a specific role in maximising the chances of domination, and securing the submission.
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WHY ARE CONTROL POSITIONS IMPORTANT
Control positions are among the most important foundations bjj has to offer, as these are the places a practitioner can control their opponent, and rest at the same time. Using a control position to maximise an advantage is extremely common, as using a maintained pressure can reduce the chances of an opponent escaping from the position.
It is extremely important to use these positions well, as there are numerous submissions that can be setup from each control position. Practitioners must understand all the fundamentals involved in what makes each control position work, like the cross face and the hip block of a side control, or the low and heavy pressure, and isolation of an elbow in the mount position. In BJJ the scramble can be a dangerous time, as it is when an opponent can secure submissions, especially joint locks. So utilising control positions, and keeping your opponent pinned to the mat is exceedingly important in every situation.
The mount is one of the most dominant positions in BJJ, as a practitioner will use this position to keep their opponent pinned on their back. In Jiu Jitsu competitions the mount is worth 4 points, but above all else it's a great place to take away the energy of your opponent. There are a multitude of submissions that can be set up from this position, including ezekiel chokes, clock chokes, americanas, mounted triangles, arm bars and many more. The mount is said to be the place where the hardest bjj submission techniques are to execute, but when a practitioner uses the mount correctly, the submissions will appear with ease. A practitioner will also be using very little muscle power, while their opponent is using all of their energy trying to escape. A good practitioner will use strategy to isolate limbs in the mount position, for example when an opponent tries the elbow escape, then a practitioner can use this to their advantage, and expose their neck.
There are different variations of the mount that a practitioner needs to learn. One of the first they will learn is a normal mount, as a practitioner will sit on the belly of their opponent in a postured position. Transitioning between mounts is an important component, as the low mount is when their hips are lower to the ground, as they use driving force into the hips of their opponent. The high mount is good for when a practitioner begins isolating an elbow, so they can then slide their knees up underneath the armpits to secure the high mount. There are other mounts that are more advanced like the s-mount, which is when a practitioner brings their knee up near the head of their opponent, and uses their other foot underneath the armpit in a highly advanced attacking position. There is also the technical mount, which is when an opponent turns on their side underneath the mount, and the practitioner then steps onto one foot while kneeling on the other side, leaving no space in between their heel and their opponent's belly. This is a good place to attack the gift wrap from, where it is easy to secure kimuras, cobra chokes, or arm bars. There is also the reverse mount, which is when a practitioner is facing the legs of their opponent, this position is used to attack knee bars, and other various leg locks.
Side control seems to be one of the favourite control positions for many practitioners, as it is an extremely versatile position to attack and transition from. Utilising a good side control starts with a heavy cross face, and the door stop, which is when their other hand is blocking the hips. This is important to stop their opponent turning toward them, and securing a half guard position. To attack submissions from this position, the practitioner needs to release the door stop, and attack the far side underhook, connecting hands with their cross face arm. As they release the doorstop it is important to either replace their arm with their knee, or their hip, this is to prevent their opponent from securing any sort of guard retention. Side control can be an extremely dominating position, as practitioners can set up a variety of submissions like kimuras, arm bars, head and arm chokes, and darce chokes.
Taking the back in Jiu Jitsu would have to be the most dominant control in the art, especially when it comes to a street fight situation, as the opponent can't see what's coming. There are a multitude of different entries into a back take from all positions, from your basic entries, to the more advanced entries like the berimbolo. Securing a dominant back control consists of using your feet as hooks in their groin, and initiating a seatbelt grip, which is one hand underneath the arm and the other over the top of the neck, with both of their hands connected. This position can be extremely frustrating for an opponent, as it is worth 4 points in a competition, and it is exceptionally hard to escape from. There are a number of different chokes, and joint locks that can be executed from having the back position in Jiu Jitsu. The most popular submission from this control position is the rear naked choke, practitioner's can also execute a number of different lapel chokes including the ezekiel, the loop choke, and the bow and arrow choke. From this position a practitioner can also set up reverse triangles and arm bars.
KNEE ON BELLY
The knee on belly position, or otherwise known as the knee ride, is a transitional position used when a practitioner passes the guard and goes to the mount. It is also used to transition from side control into the mount, or it can be used as a platform to execute many different submissions. The knee ride incorporates using a heavy knee, and shin across the abdomen of their opponent, while their other leg is stretched out in a based position. Usually a practitioner will have a wrist grip, making the position even tighter on the rib cage of their opponent. This position scores two points when a practitioner is competing in tournaments. There are a variety of submissions that can be executed from the knee ride, like the arm bar, the triangle, the clock choke, and many other submission moves.
The turtle position can also be a dominant control position for a practitioner. This position usually happens when an opponent is being controlled, and they decide to scamper to their hands and knees. Quite often opponents will use the turtle as a way to roll back into the guard, so for a practitioner it is important to keep control around their waist, and stay diagonal towards their hip. There are many transitions that practitioners can execute like various back takes, and transitions to gain side control. There are also various submissions a practitioner can go for like guillotines, anaconda chokes, darce chokes, and even more advanced positions like the truck, which leads into submissions like the twister and various leg attacks.
This position is a transitional position that a practitioner will secure, as they move out of side control, to avoid a practitioner gaining their guard back. It is quite common for a practitioner to utilise the north south position as a way to demoralise their opponent, as they move through all the dominant positions. This position is a good platform to launch for back takes, and for sneaky mount positions. Practitioners will usually apply considerable amounts of pressure, because if they don't the opponent will easily escape the control, and will find their way back to their guard. There are also a couple of really high percentage submissions like the kimura, and the north south choke, which is basically like a reverse guillotine.
The kesagatme or otherwise known as the scarf hold, is an extremely valuable attacking position. This control position is secured as a practitioner switches their base, turning on to their side while they are in side control, they will then scoop hard around the neck, as they pull their opponents arm high by gripping onto the tricep. This position can be extremely difficult to escape from if it's applied correctly. There are numerous positions where practitioners can transition to, like north south, the mount, or even reverse mount. There are also a number of different submissions that can be executed from the scarf hold, like the scarf hold pressure tap, which is basically just applying pressure into the rib cage of an opponent. Another high percentage submission is the kimura, there are also other submissions like arm bars, wrist locks, americanas with the legs, and probably the most effective submission of all from this position would be the arm triangle, or otherwise known as the head and arm choke.
The guard is one of the most iconic positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as it is used as a defensive way to hold off an opponent trying to get past their guard. Some practitioners opt to pull guard instantly in a fight, because they are so versatile from this position. Even though the guard is a defensive tool, it is also a platform to attack numerous submissions from. Some of the most dangerous submissions from guard are the triangle, the arm bar, the cross collar choke, the omoplata, and the guillotine. The most common style of guard which is taught to beginners, is the closed guard as this is a way of learning how to attack an opponent without the fear of being passed.
The second most important brazilian jiu jitsu moves for beginners is learning how to use guard retention. The first step towards achieving a full guard is to learn the half guard. This guard was initially developed as a defensive tool, but has now become an extremely attacking weapon in the game of BJJ. As a defensive tool this guard is one of the first guards secured when a practitioner is escaping from bad positions, for example; when they are in the mount, and they execute an elbow escape, they will then use guard retention to secure the half guard. This position is extremely reliable, and allows practitioners a large array of attacks including; sweeps, transitional movements, and various leg lock attacks.
There are many different types of guards that have been developed over the course of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu history. The open guard is extremely important, as it allows the practitioner to execute more attacks from this position. The open guard gives a practitioner much more freedom with their legs to shoot for triangles, or to use their legs to thread into lasso positions, or even invert. There are many other highly reputable guards like the x-guard, the z-guard, the k-guard, the butterfly guard, and the de la riva guard, which are ways of tangling up their opponents legs in order to sweep, and set up submissions. Other guards include using lapels, and collar grips like the lasso guard, the spider guard, the worm guard and the gubba guard. There are many other guards in the arsenal of BJJ, as many new positions are discovered all the time with the innovation of high level athletes, due to the growth of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu worldwide.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FEELING COMFORTABLE IN ALL POSITIONS
There is a good saying in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that all practitioners will learn, "you must learn to feel comfortable, being uncomfortable". This means to learn the ability of staying comfortable when an opponent puts you in a bad position. It is pretty easy for a practitioner to lose their way, or to panic while they are under an extreme amount of heavy pressure, or under significant submission threat.
Training in BJJ for a long time will help students build up a resilience to being under heavy pressure. This is what makes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu one of the best Martial Arts in the world to learn, because of the ability a student will acquire in training in full contact sparring. Being stuck in a high pressure situation not only builds up resilience, but it helps a practitioner learn how to make the right decisions moving forward. If a bad decision is made while a practitioner is in a bad position, it usually ends with a submission. So this learning process is a great way for a practitioner to become extremely versatile at defending, and escaping from positions and submissions.
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