I don’t have a belt in jiu-jitsu.
Actually I’ve never even trained grappling with the gi.
Okay maybe I did some moves when I was training karate, to be able to fight for my black belt. But other than that – not much BJJ training whatsoever. This has made me develop some good habits for MMA-grappling.
A scramble, for those of you who haven’t heard the expression before, is the situation that arises the moment you or your opponent get taken down and start to fight for top control or getting back on your feet.
Since there are no clothes to hold on to in MMA, and you’re always searching for the top position from where you can land punches, you have to be able to scramble. To instantly move.
The gi teaches you to have a tight game; not letting anyone escape your grips or positions. You get good at controlling since you can hold on to everything. But it is also a slower game. The tempo is lower since you get stuck everywhere and can’t roll around at the same speed as in no-gi grappling.
My style of grappling really comes down to one thing: attack is the best defense. If I have a guy on top of me and I try to get up he will do simply one thing: hold me down. But if I instead of just pushing him away look for a limb to attack straight away, he will have to start defending it; which often gives me a moment and space to get up.
From the top control I try to stay heavy of course, control the person on the bottom, flatten his back out against the floor, and attack once he is being still. From the bottom though I always search for submissions.
If I see an arm at a 90-degree angle I’ll go for a kimura straight away. If I see a foot sticking out I’ll grab it. If I am being stuck under in turtle-position I’ll roll for a leg lock, or attack his hands with wrist-locks. Attack, attack, attack. Move, move, move. You can’t stay in a position if you are on the bottom or you’ll get hammered.
Attacking keeps you moving.
Sure it is tireing. But being hammered with full force from the person on top is even more tireing, and wears you out quickly. This intense style of grappling creates scrambles all the time; and constantly searching for attacks keeps you moving, making you harder to control.
There is a BJJ-saying that goes ”Position before submission”. But on the opposite: submissions can also take you to positions. Master the basic transitions and escapes from every position, like sweeps, hip bumps, bridges, shrimping and rolling, and then find new ways to reverse the position by experimenting as you grapple.
This is best done with ”flow-rolling” where you are not trying to pin the person to the ground like your life depended on it, but rather just flowing around and keeping it playful. As you catch your opponent in a position; you let him/her find a way out (and help with this if needed) and then continue grappling as normal.
This playful way of experimenting in your grappling training is great for finding new patterns and ways to move.
Being good at scrambling is valuable for every Martial Artist, but even more so for good strikers who feel best fighting on their feet! Because instead of learning hundreds of new submissions you can just get good at scrambling to be able to get back to your feet and keep the fight where you feel most comfortable.
Make your opponent play your game.