Rotational control is simply the ability to control an opponent’s turning. That turning means into you or away from you, or it is whether your opponent can turn at all. It can also mean whether both of you turn together, such as when you’re in the Back Mount. According to BJJ black belt Rob Biernacki, when it comes to rotational control there are two main types: Direct-based and Lever-based.
An example of direct-based rotational control would be when you’re in the Back Mount with the seat-belt grip. This position allows phenominal control of your opponent’s ability to turn or rotate. Or it’s when you’re in Top Side Control and you have the cross-face under the neck and the underhook on the far side.
On the other hand, an example of lever-based rotational control would be when you have the Kimura grip. This type of rotational control can be used to prevent turning by your opponent or can be used to turn the opponent’s body yourself by using your arms.
A direct-based rotational control is an outstanding method to prevent movement by your opponent. However, a lever is so powerful that if you can use it to move another lever, you should always use it. An excellent example of this is manipulating a lower lever to move a higher lever. For example, moving the opponent’s lower leg in a way that turns their upper leg in a way they didn’t count on.
BONUS: The Placeholder System
Utilizing a method of control without releasing another method of control is the placeholder system. Professor Roy Dean calls this overlapping pressures. It’s when you maintain control of your opponent’s body with one method, but set an second method prior to removing the first method.
This system of control can be seen throughout Jiu-Jitsu, especially when doing transitional movements (i.e. guard passing, rolling back takes, etc.) Understanding this system of control can elevate anyone’s game to a higher level, and should be studied and practiced.
Learn. Drill. Roll. TRANSFORM!