Position Vs. Submission

There are many submissions that can be found either in disadvantageous positions or while transitioning from bad positions into improved ones.  There is a whole world of submissions that don’t rely on a secure/positive position.  We are taught from day 1 to value position over submission.  Does hunting for the submission from everywhere potentially make you a better and more difficult to contend with practitioner?

Ideally, when I compete, I either take my opponent down or pull guard, and then I get on top either by passing their guard or by sweeping them.  Once I am on top establishing a submission is, ideally, relatively easy because there are so many available to me and I can transition or cycle through them.  However, what happens ideally doesn’t necessarily happen in reality…

Reality: I go for the takedown, takedown gets stuffed, I have to play catch-up and win on an advantage.  Reality: I pull guard, my opponent sits in my guard for the majority of the round, if I open up they almost pass and I lose on an advantage if I don’t open up I lose a referee’s decision.  I’m not saying that the ideal scenarios don’t happen, but it’s a crapshoot.

Some of my most successful performances have been matches that I treated as submission only.  I went out there not really caring if the other guy scored and managed to land a submission at an unexpected moment.  I prefer these sorts of performances when I’m down 15-0 and I pull a submission out of nowhere.  This is not the smart way to compete, I don’t do it often, but again it’s something I enjoy.

I’ll bet a lot of people are going to read this and question the validity of my competition experience, or my motives of encouraging submission over position.  The reality is that 90% of my matches are played intelligently and safely, I go out there with a game plan and I execute it successfully.  However, 90% of high level matches are boring as hell to watch.  Neither competitor wants to give up an inch so it becomes a game of fractions of an inch.  It’s very often pathetic.

Is position really all that it’s cracked up to be?  Should we be encouraged to learn and perfect submissions from bad places?  Position is without question the safest and most secure way to win, either by submission, or by points.  Position is sound in real world fighting, you don’t really want your back on the ground in a street fight, bad things can happen.

Do you hunt for submissions?  Or do you hunt for position and allow the submission to come to you?  Both are sublime and make jiu jitsu elegant and an amazing sport/art in which to take part.


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