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8 strategies to deal with ultra defensive bjj

Back doing some rolling again but having a bit of a problem getting submissions. I think I was super eager to just be back rolling and was hunting for that ‘win’ , and subsequently was getting it less often 😕
Couldn’t go asleep last night thinking about it so here are my thoughts

What was often happening was, I would score a takedown or sweep, pass the guard and land in side control or mount and then be stuck there for quiet some time, in a bit of a stalemate. I know in an IBJJF comp the person would not be likely to stay put in this position as they are most likely losing on points but in a SubOnly comp, or oftentimes in the gym, the person ain’t so concerned about points…

So they stay put on their back, with tight elbows, shoulders shrugged and both hand’s clenched near their ears, forming an effective and frustrating defence to the standard subs (armbars, chokes, shoulder locks)
What to do? (also if I land this position in an IBJJF comp, the emphasis is on me to attack and I can ultimately be disqualified if I do not, often leading to No.1 on our list)

Here are 8 strategies to deal with ultra defensive bjj

1. Brute force.
Just go for the submission anyway, disregarding his strong defensive position. Can be problematic though if he is stronger than you.
Plus this can often be exactly what he is waiting for, you over commit offensively and are wide open for a counter
Also if you rough him up too much, he is likely to return the favour when he gets a chance

2. Set up sub earlier.
Work in the grey areas, halfway between the guard pass and a solid pin, taking advantages of any openings before he switches up strategically to go ultra defensive.
Can be difficult to do with somebody of you own level or higher though, passing the guard is tricky enuf as it is without adding in this extra work.
Common example would be kneeslide/x-choke combination or in nogi the brabo choke while passing 1/2 guard

3. Choice of passes.
Choose passes that expose him for submission e.g he try’s to push away and is open for armbar or as he defends the guard pass his legs are in good position for an ankle lock.
Or choose passes that lead to you taking his back and perhaps he is not so good at defending from there?

4.Force him to open up.
Pressure e.g Knee on belly, he will most likely have to open up to defend the positional pressure, and you can pick off the openings

5. Trick him to open up.
Make him think an escape is on, but you have a trap set up. Marcello Garcia is the master of this approach. For example, as your opponent explodes out of position, hit him with the guilloteine or armbar/omoplata

6. Weaken his defensive position.
Instead of letting him keep his elbows tight alongside his ribs, move further up his body, either in side control or mount, and get his elbows right up in the air.

7. Double attack.
Works well in combination with 6. Overwhelm his defences, classic example being x-choke, while he’s defending this hit him with the armbar.
10 time world champ, Roger Gracie, explains it better

8. Use his strong defensive position against him.
This is the part that I was stuck on for a long time and still am I suppose. Although this is quiet a strong defensive position, easily implemented by anybody with a few months training, there must be some weaknesses.
I couldn’t think of any…
But we done a bit of specific positional sparring this morning and had a quick discussion of everybody’s successful approaches. Most went with one of he above.
Donatas went with number 8, check it out

Jeebus, few variations there

variation from side, but there might be too much space there? I will definitely be trying out the barata plata from mount, fingers crossed it solves my conundrum 🙂

Hope these 8 strategies to deal with ultra defensive bjj help you stay true to the roots of BJJ and get that sub



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