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"If you ain't first, you're last" - Ricky Bobby.

There is a beginning movement that applies to every technique in grappling. Perhaps you can't see it watching or rolling with higher level practitioners, but it is most certainly there.

What we are referring to is the initial physical move, the first technical step in building a larger set of moves that we commonly call a technique.

This isn't to be confused with getting ready to move, like setting your frames or getting yourself into position.

To think of it more clearly, put yourself into the space of a roll and you're about to commit a technique. Let's say bottom side control and the classic hip escape to reguard.

To do this you would get your frames on the hips and neck. Standard practice there.

But now is where the main movement begins.

You bridge up and out, swivelling your entire body on two points with your arm going underneath you.

Now, at what point can you get shut down here if you've already established your frames?

The most cost effective way is to kill the bottom arm and stop the entire movement, to begin with

With the arm connected to the whole weight of the top player, there's almost no way to rip that arm out efficiently without hoping momentum does it for you.

Another example is working inside someone's guard.

To do almost any sweep, submission, or to stand up and remove oneself from the ground game, there has to be a small hip out and establishment of a dominant angle.

Try a high percentage sub or sweep without this angle and it will be a fundamentally less high percentage technique. For more info on this check out our previous blog on the Pareto Principle/ The 80-20 Rule.

You're inside the guard and you feel your opponent establish grips and hip out to threaten with a sweep or submission, immediately you square your hips up and take that angle away.


Shut down.

This is the core essence of that sinking feeling that you're being dominated and can lead to you feeling despair.

So what do we do to stop getting shut down?

  1. Start by using more tactile ways to set up your escapes, sweeps and submissions where you are not giving away your intentions.
  2. Compliment these moves with other moves that utilise the same or near movements, such as the armbar from the guard and the flower sweep.

The most important thing is that now you have understood the concept of why you are staying in neutral gear or even stalling the car.

Try it in your next roll and let us know how you go at staying in the roll.



Jake Anderson is a Bachelor of Sport Development and Mixed Martial Arts commentator with over 18 years of combined training in various Martial Arts and tertiary education in health & sport. His blogs on the foundations of health and martial arts are dedicated to the communication and education of leading a holistically fulfilling life.

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