This idea, or theory, is another example of why Jiu-Jitsu is such an effective martial arts system as compared to others. BJJ Black Belt Rob Biernacki explains it as being the main reason why traditional based martial arts systems often have trouble making their submissions work. Let's look at this topic a little deeper.
Have you ever seen the standing wrist locks of Aikido in action? Have you ever tried to hit one during a roll with someone only to have it fail? Did you ask yourself why it didn't work? Or did you simple dismiss it thinking that wrist locks don't work and Aikido must be fake or ineffective. As someone who has pressure tested wrist locks during live rolls I can tell you that it wasn't the technique itself. Wrist locks hurt and can break or dislocate bones. What most likely happens however, is that both Effects are not being employed by the user. Allow me to explain further.
The Primary Effect of a submission is what you are doing to cause the damage or render your opponent unconscious. So what does that mean? Simply look at Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson in the picture above applying the armbar to his opponent. He has a full "baseball bat" grip on the arm for control. The opponent's elbow is directly over Mighty Mouse's hips. All that's left to do is completely pull down the arm and raise the hips to essentially break the arm or get the submission. Basically, it's the intended purpose, or the primary use, of the technique being used.
However, what's allowing Mighty Mouse to apply the technique without the opponent simply getting up or escaping the hold? The Secondary Effect of a submission is what you’re doing to keep the opponent in place while causing damage to a limb or strangling the opponent. Essentially, it's the "secret sauce" in BJJ's arsenal of effective submissions. Most times, this is what separates a great submission from one that works some of the time. Looking again at the picture above. What is keeping Demetrious' opponent flat on his back? The legs of course. Remember, the secondary effect can be another part of your body or an inanimate object such as the mat or a wall.
Understanding how submissions actually work are the difference between the inexperienced and experienced grappler, between the black belt and those of lesser rank. Ever notice how an advanced BJJ practitioner is able to deliver such effective submissions. Next time check out the secondary effect of their technique, not just the primary effect. You'll find the answer.
Learn. Drill. Roll. TRANSFORM!