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Positional BJJ Sparring

By Pete Subritzky

Do you ever find yourself stuck on something?

Your opponents slice through your guard like a dollop of cream sliding off a freshly cooked scone?

Despite all your attempts at hip bumping, shrimping, or pushing you can’t get out of side control?


Rather than trying to complete the whole sequence successfully try focusing your attention on that one thing, the one part of the movement that’s not working for you.

Let’s say you’re having trouble with the rear naked choke. Try as you might you can’t maintain back control long enough to successfully finish the submission. There’s a lot going on here. You have to keep them between your knees, control their hands to prevent them from grabbing your choking arm, you have to stop them sliding about and putting their shoulders on the mat. All that while you’re trying to slide your wrist under their chin.

Why not break the situation down and focus on the individual components.

Begin by focusing on sandwiching their head between your choking arm and your head. Have your partner try to escape. Don’t worry about what you're doing with your legs or what they’re doing with their arms. Just work on maintaining the relationship of their head to your head and arm. Once they escape, reset and start all over again.


Positional Sparring

(Choice of position is Back Control)


Without neglecting to control the position of their head, take control of your partner’s hands. Have your partner try and escape now. It should be significantly more difficult for them. Once they escape, reset and start all over again.

You won’t have a free hand to choke yet, but that’s not the point. You’re learning to control your partner's movements.


Now you can routinely control their movement and stop them from escaping, you can work to pin one of your partner's arms using one (or both) of your legs.

Only once you can repeatedly achieve control of their movement and their arms begin to try for the choke.

Positional sparring is valuable a tool to use when learning a new technique but also when you’re having trouble with something that is already part of your game.

Give it a go.

- Peter Subritzky

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