Thursday, 23 October 2008

Keeping The Top Position

From Stephan Kesting

For the past few months I've been working on a new book, "A Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu". Today's tip is an excerpt from that book.I will let you all know when it is completed.


Keeping the top position is a contentious issue. To illustrate thedebate, let's consider the one of the classic BJJ techniques: astraight armbar from Mount. If you manage to pull it off and apply thearmbar then that's great, the match is over. If your opponentmanages to defend against the armbar, however, then you will typicallyend up on the bottom, in Guard. Going for that armbar means that youare accepting the risk of trading a superior position (Mount) for aneutral position (Guard).

Some instructors and coaches will encourageyou to go for that armbar, while others find the risk of losing topposition unacceptable. As with all attempts to balance risk and reward balancing acts,however, everyone has their own comfort zone. Some BJJ practitionersare perfectly happy to abandon top position to pursue a submission,whereas other, more conservative, practitioners prefer submissionsthat don't yield the top position if the submission attempt fails.

If you are competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) or are in a selfdefense situation then I would think long and hard before abandoningthe precious top position. Any time you end up on the bottom in acontext that includes striking there is always the chance that youropponent, with gravity on his side, could slip some heavy punches,elbows or headbutts through your defenses.

If, on the other hand,your emphasis is more oriented towards sport BJJ or submission grappling then you have a more latitude about ending up on thebottom. Being on the bottom in a sport BJJ context isn't so bad ifyou have a good Guard game. One of the decisions you'll have to make at some point in your BJJcareer is where YOU stand on the issue of keeping the top position. Even if you become a die-hard top position player, there are stillseveral reasons why you should still learn and occasionally practice submissions with an inherent risk of you ending up on the bottom.

First, it may help your athletic development, and make you feel morecomfortable in scrambles where positions aren't so clear cut and therole of the combatants (i.e. top vs. bottom) changes very rapidly.

Second, an opponent may reverse you and send you to the bottom againstyour will - feeling comfortable with these techniques may allow you tosnatch victory from the jaws of defeat en route to the bottom.

Finally it will allow you to better counter these techniques should an opponent try them on you; because the best way to learn to counter atechnique is to know how to apply it yourself.

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