The Most Punishing Position In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

I’ll wager that everyone reading this article can think of a guy in their BJJ school who is known for his brutal knee on the belly (KOB).

You’ve had your guard passed, held under heavy side control, and as you tire, the top guy jumps up into KOB and positions that knee right on your diaphragm! Uugghhh!

As a blue belt, I used to think of the knee on the belly as strictly a big guy position. Pin the smaller opponent on their back and then apply the big pressure. I had a few training partners (big boys, not lightweights) who would consent to roll only if I agreed not to put my knee on belly.

Then I met a 145-pound black belt who used the KOB extensively on much heavier opponents (including me!) and it expanded my view of the possibilities of the KOB position.

I have been shown a few tips that helped my KOB, and these tips can improve yours as well.

Here they are.

1) Be fluid.

Many first and second year students get discouraged with KOB because of the lesser amount of control compared to side control. They hop up, try to hold the position in a static way, and when the opponent starts to bridge and shrimp to escape, they can’t keep 100% control.

You must adjust your mindset and see the KOB as a transitional position where you must move to react to your opponent’s movements. KOB is not a static position that you hold and stay there. Move!

Check out some of the KOB mobility drills on YouTube. Here is a good one to start with:

2) Don’t be afraid to apply the pressure.

I see many guys trying to be good training partners and being too light on their pressure. I’m not sure that was the case at the old Carlson Gracie Academy!

If your supporting leg’s knee is on the mat, you are not applying the pressure that you need to make the position effective. Eighty to ninety percent of your body weight should be on your knee, which means your opponent is forced to carry your body weight.

I’m not suggesting you grind the new students into the mat with your brutal knee on the sternum during their first week in class, but understand that the effectiveness of the position comes from the pressure it brings.

I had a 250-pound black belt from the Carlson Gracie team demonstrate the pressure on me, and I was a believer afterwards!

3) Use KOB on bigger opponents.

The small black belt I mentioned earlier used knee on belly on me instead of side control. After tapping out for the umpteenth time, I expressed surprise at a lighter guy using KOB against an opponent who outweighed him by 50 pounds.

“If I try to hold you in tight side control, I am effectively locking my body onto yours,” he explained. “If you suddenly roll, I roll too and end up on the bottom.

“But with knee on the belly, when you move, I can follow you while still keeping pressure on you.”

Since then, I experimented using KOB on larger opponents, and I had solid success.


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