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Understanding Direction & Positional Control


Last year I wrote about this topic and geared it towards the newer student. It was a high level piece describing how it’s important to have an idea of where to go when rolling. Knowing about positional hierarchy was stressed, as well as, realizing that the main idea is to get from a bottom position to a top or dominate one. However, I’d like to dive a little deeper into this concept because I feel it’s so important. Let’s look at specific areas and get a better understanding of what one should be doing, or thinking, when in those situations. We’ll call them the Directions and Goals of each situation.


First, there’s Standing, and the direction should be to stay on your feet and get your opponent to the ground. Obvious, right? The main goal is to stop your opponent from bringing you to the ground. That means you don’t want your opponent to get good grips on you where you don’t feel in control. This is important! After training at this for a while, and you feel comfortable staying on your feet, you want to force your opponent to the ground via throw, takedown or Guard pull. Remember, the idea most times is to end up in a dominant position.


How about when you’re inside someone’s Guard? Most times the direction should be to Pass the Guard (though to a leg locker this may seem inefficient). The main goal is to get around, under or over the opponent’s legs. Then get past their hips and control them in a dominant position such as Side Control or Mount.


When you have the Guard there should be two directions: Keep your feet and hips in front of your opponent, and Get on Top! Your goal is to keep the opponent in front of your legs and hips without allowing them past. Keeping them at your legs, knees and hip line are priorities. However, the ultimate objective from bottom of Guard is to get on top of the opponent by sweeping, tripping, pushing, pulling, lifting or just knocking them over onto their back.


Being on the bottom of Half Guard can be confusing. There are several schools of thought, but in the end the direction should be looking to protect your head and arms, getting back Full Guard, and/or getting on top. The goal is to not let the opponent control your arms by getting underhooks or wrist control (important), while also keeping your head protected from their control as well (also important). After learning how to keep yourself safe while on bottom, begin working towards the main goal of moving into another Guard position or reversing the opponents dominate position. Having a bottom Half Guard game is paramount!


When it comes to Top or Back Control positions the direction is the same: Keep Control and Get the Submission, in that order. From the Top Control position maintain your structure so you have the advantage. Stop their Re-Guard attempts. Don’t allow them onto their knees. Then begin setting up submissions. From the Back Control position, preventing the opponent from escaping is of utmost importance because this ultimately helps lead you to your main objective of getting the submission.


This will be the last blog post for 2019. Even BJJ coaches need a brain break once in awhile. I hope everyone enjoys the holidays, and that the time off helps to invigorate you to dive back into your training in 2020. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from AXT Jiu-Jitsu!


Learn. Drill. Roll. TRANSFORM!

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