Why Are Angles Important for Submissions?
Finally get to use that geometry they made you learn!
When I first started Jiu Jitsu, I had a hard time finishing a lot of submissions even though I was doing most the technique correct. In fact, I would catch these submissions, get to the end and everything looked perfect, but when I would apply pressure, nothing would happen. In searching for ways to improve my submission success rate, I was always looking for and asking about more details on submission finishes. One group of details that always came around to improve the submission rate that actually worked was the angle in which I attack submissions.
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We will start this discussion by examining one of the most basic finishes, the Americana. Let’s say you get all the way to the end of an Americana set up and are ready to apply pressure, and let’s say that in this scenario, the elbow of the defender is above or even in line with their shoulder line. You’ll notice that when applying pressure, it takes a significant amount of movement to get the tap, if it ever comes. But if you try moving the elbow below the shoulder line, the tap comes much quicker. This is because by changing the angle, we are reducing the rotational capacity of the shoulder joint. This concept can be added to the kimura or omoplata and would work just as well.
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The next example is with chokes. When looking to choke, we are actually trying to constrict the carotid arteries location on both sides in the neck. This means that to actually constrict the blood flow, we must apply pressure to the sides of the neck and not the front. In order to improve that constriction with chokes, especially guillotines, darces, and anaconda chokes, adding a twisting action to the check improve their success significantly.
These are just some quick examples of why angles are so important when finishing submissions. Realistically, you can take every submission in grappling and break down which precise angle is best. This can be applied to chokes, joint locks, twists, hyperextension submissions, and so on. The next time you are having a hard time finishing a submission, practice changing the angle and see what gets the tap the fastest.