One of the traps that I have found recently is slipping into counter grappling. What I mean is when you start a roll or a competition match and you allow your opponent to play their game or their favourite technique. This leaves you in a position of defending against their specialist stuff, which is always going to leave you playing catch up. Counter grappling in bjj is not a great place to be. You are the two or three moves behind your opponent and they’re playing their game towards their favourite finish. This has made me think about what I should be doing to make sure that I don’t end up just defending against my partner’s bjj.
The first thing is to consider what you want to play. What are the techniques that I want to use, starting from the takedown all the way through. Sometimes it will be the ones I feel comfortable with, others will be the ones I am trying out. But I need to make that decision. Straight from the start I need to know what I want to play. If I am starting standing, focus on an A and B take down. I will push A but if it really isn’t working I do need a B to fall back to, so I can retain control. If I am starting from the ground I need to be aware that my partner may prefer playing off his back and I may be walking into his favourite position. So if I am going to go into a guard what is my favourite way of passing or what would affect his guard game the most. Maybe try passing to the opposite side you normally do?
The next thing is keeping focused whilst I am rolling. It is really easy to accept the position you are in, without working out of it to where you want to be. This doesn’t mean thrashing around to escape. But knowing where you want to be and working your way to that, not just accepting the position and just working defence. If you want to get back on top, because that’s where you prefer to play form. That should be what you work towards. If you love playing in closed guard work towards that. Whether it is a top or bottom position retain control of yourself and work towards that. By doing this you are retaining control of the fight and forcing your partner to deal with what you are working towards.
Remember you are allowed to reset. So many times I have found myself in a position that is not good for me and I have tried to carrying fighting from it. Instead of acknowledging that it is a bad place and getting the hell out of there. Maybe your partner has your legs pinned and is moving round for the pass. So you try and defend the pass. What would have been better would be scooting back, getting your legs free and starting from neutral. Or maybe you have walked into an open guard for a knee slide pass. But your partner has super fast grips and hooks and your balance is compromised. Don’t try and fight your way forward from this poor position, break the grips and work your way out and start again and again if you need to.
As a beginner I am not saying I do this all the time, unfortunately I still get caught up in the heat of the moment and lose my focus. But knowing what I should be doing is half way there. The other half is remembering under pressure, which only comes with training.