On a mission to find a submission

One time after rolling with a purple belt at my gym, he asked me what my go to submission was. I stared at him with a confused, blank stare. Submission? How often do I go for submissions? If I do go for submissions was there one I felt I was good enough at to consider my go to? I told him that I guess I spend more time playing defense than offense and didn’t really have a solid submission. He said that was normal because I was smaller and I would get one eventually.

I started thinking about the other guys I roll with and how I would often know what submission they were going to go for because that was their thing. I didn’t have a thing. It made me realize that I was not attacking enough and was instead content to play defense. I decided that I had to start thinking more offensively when I rolled. I made an effort to do this for a while. I liked how my playing offense meant that my opponent had to play defense and I wasn’t getting smashed and submitted. However, I did find it frustrating that I very rarely finished a submission. Recent events have found me playing defense again and I haven’t thought of finding my submission in a while.

That all changed this week though. After losing at the tournament last weekend, the purple belt coach at my weekend gym told me he thought I should pick a submission and just drill it, work it and make it mine. He suggested it be something quick, like a wristlock, since I am very often overpowered.

I liked the idea of this. Most of us have heard the saying that you shouldn’t fear the person who practices 1000 moves 1 time but instead fear the one who practices 1 move 1000 times. But once again I was faced with the problem of not having a submission I felt I was solid at. I don’t land any submission with enough regularity to think I can own it.

I talked to my main instructor about this idea and he agreed it was a good one except he suggested picking one from the bottom and one from the top. Lately when I get to mount my favorite thing to do is go for an arm triangle (or head and arm choke if you prefer). As I have mentioned before, I am a big fan of shoulder pressure which lends itself well to this submission. I have also recently learned an americana transition from here and have discovered that if I get rolled I still have the option to finish the arm triangle or go for an ezekiel (in gi at least).

Now I just had to think of a submission from bottom. I asked my coach if he had any idea what I should choose and he suggested I work triangles as mine are pretty tight. I will humbly admit that I can throw on a nasty triangle. This is contingent of course on my partner giving me their arm and not trying at all to resist as I lock up the triangle. I said as much to him and he showed me some setups and suggested I work them while rolling in the coming weeks.

This weekend I got a lot of work in with my purple belt instructor and he helped me drill wristlocks. As a fairly new blue belt, I have not had a lot of experience with going for wristlocks which is why I dismissed them as my go to submission when he suggested it. I rolled with him a long time before class this morning and tried to work those triangle setups with minimal success. If I did get into a triangle position he would defend it (I hate when people do that). I feel like I can work armbars and omoplatas off of it though so I don’t want to give up on triangles yet but I want to be able to finish a submission now!

After having minimal success with the triangles I started thinking about the wristlocks he showed me. At one point I was in technical mount and about to swing around for an armbar when I noticed his arm was in perfect position for a wristlock. I went for it. I didn’t finish but it surprised him so much that he even admitted after that he went right to muscle mode to escape it and he told me at the time that I had almost got him. I kept going for them throughout our various rolls and had much the same experience, I almost got them but he managed to just escape.

If I am almost catching a purple belt after one day of trying I figure there is something to this wristlock thing. So I am going to make an effort to go for them as I roll from now on. Well except I guess I can’t with white belts. Can I? They have to learn sometime…

I am excited to possibly have a submission to make my own. I hope to have a running tally of people I submit via wristlock very soon 🙂

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6 responses to “On a mission to find a submission”

  1. dianadoesfood says :

    Reblogged this on dianadoesfood and commented:
    I enjoy reading this blog 🙂

  2. slideyfoot says :

    Personally I’m not a big fan of drilling a lot of submissions, as I think learning how to totally maintain a position is more important, but then I don’t compete. Obviously it’s important to have a few, but I don’t think it should be a focus until much later. I like the progression laid out by Saulo: he puts submissions right at the back of Jiu Jitsu University, in the ‘black belt’ chapter.

    I rarely submit people: I think I only started to do it with any kind of regularity this year (I started in 2006), and even then that’s always lower belts (particularly as there are only a couple of other purples at the gym, then the black belt head coach who I rarely roll with).

    • Jon says :

      This comment popped up in my reader and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Foot here. I much prefer drilling positional transitions over submissions. For me, that’s where the true magic in Jiu Jitsu is. And it’s one of the many reasons why I bemoan the emphasis placed on ‘winning’ during open mat sparring. I’m of the opinion that if more people would play “catch and release” they would see their overall games improve dramatically.

      • Your Doom says :

        I don’t go nuts looking for submissions. When I am rolling with stronger guys, I know that I most likely won’t finish a lot of submissions so I work on transitions and holding dominate positions with them. I do find that I have to think more offensively to get in a mindset to compete though. Also when I am going for submissions, even if they are not landing, it forces my partner to go on the defense and then I can capitalize and transition easier so I like that. I am not the type to submit someone new 10 times in a roll though just because I can.

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