Fundamentals I Wish I Knew Sooner


Whats up guys! If you're lucky you have already been taught these fundamentals. Personally it took me 8 years of training to come across an instructor that finally knocked these into my head. So hopefully you find some gold nuggets!

Dominating the Inside Space

This tip completely changed my game. The person that controls the inside space wins the battle. Think about it this way, if you're playing guard imagine a beach ball sitting right on your stomach. If your opponent can get his/her grips on the inside and crush your beach ball they will most likely win the battle. I'm not saying they will win the match but they will win that advantage and most likely pass your guard. On the other end if you control your hand and foot placement and protect that beach ball you are more likely to shut down their pass and open up sweep or submission opportunities. It's a game changer! So whether you're playing guard or passing guard this fundamental tip will help.

Grip Fighting and Proper Grip Placement

This is something that I really struggled with going from No Gi to the Gi. For the first 8 years of my training, I essentially only trained No Gi so I wasn't used to people grabbing my pants, lapels, or collars when I finally did strap on the Gi. All someone would have to do to pass my guard was grab my pants and stroll right passed my guard.

There is a grip battle that happens in No Gi but I felt it the most when I transitioned to the Gi. If you solely train No Gi then your battle is more so underhooks and overhooks. In the Gi you have your underhook and overhook battles as well, but then you add in pant, lapel, and collar grips creating more to deal with. Just like with dominating the inside space, the person that can stay ahead with the grips will most likely win the battle. This is where grip fighting really comes in handy. Watch any high level Judo matches and you will see so much grip fighting. This should really stress the importance of grip fighting. Combine grip fighting with dominating the inside space and you will have a winning game plan.

Angles Make Strangles

Can you tap someone out without angles? Yes absolutely. You may have heard me say in the past that "a tap is a tap" but when you add in the perfect angle then not only are you getting the tap but you are using far less energy in the process. Triangle Chokes are the submission that really come into mind when it comes to angles. You don't necessarily need to cut the angle to get the tap. All you have to do is squeeze and pull down on the head and people will tap. Personally I never pull down on the head. As soon as I lock in the triangle, I'm looking to cut that angle by scooping the leg and I start applying pressure. I've had plenty of people pull down on my head and I'm not usually tapping to the choke. I'm usually tapping to the fear of having my head pop off and walking like Frankenstein the next day. Like I said though, a tap is a tap. I guess my point is you will use much less energy with angles and you'll typically accomplish your goal in less time as well. Also on the flip side if you want to take away someones submission take away the angle they need to finish it. This works especially well in Triangle Chokes. If you cut the opposite angle the likelihood of getting the choke drops dramatically. 

Spine Misalignment 

This is a concept I honestly learned recently. When someone has proper posture even if they are on their back, they can move a whole lot better than if they are twisted and contorted. There are small things you can do to accomplish this and it will make a world of difference. For example if you have Side Control, with your cross face arm, get a grip on their armpit. From there all you have to do is pull their upper body towards you and their spine is misaligned. It's kind of hard to explain through text but trust me it works wonders.

Every Limb Needs A Job

You essentially have 4 limbs that should constantly be doing something. When you aren't using one of your limbs, you aren't rolling to your potential. Even if the only job one of your limbs has is to check a hip or shoulder, all limbs are doing something and thus doing their job. I find this is especially important in playing guard and guard passing. God gave most of us 4 limbs so you might a well use them. You can also use your head in some instances too but I find using your head isn't as important as keeping a job for both arms and both legs. I will use my head to post on the mats sometimes or dig it into a rib or neck. The higher you climb the ranks the more you'll notice you tend to use your feet like hands too. I haven't seen too many lower ranks doing this but when you really start using your feet then it really tightens up your game. 


Well hopefully that helped! These tips completely changed my game so hopefully it will do the same for you

Hope to see y'all on the mats!


Brent Smith

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