A lot of clubs I’ve visited regardless of if they’re Mixed martial arts, bjj or judo, tend to separate standing and groundwork. This is an odd way of training from my point of view and is probably a sort of coaching tradition because one of the best times to submit or takedown/throw an opponant is in a transition period, a brief moment of confusion when your opponant has to mentally shift their focus from one aspect of the game to another. I’m going to first talk about my success using transitions then some drills you can use in your sport be it Judo, BJJ or MMA.
So going back a few years I was on the national circuit and I gained a couple of national medals but never made the podium at the national championships. That summer we worked day in day out on our submission drills from checking a throw (mostly drop seoi-nage which at the time was very common in judo). Come the national championships, after a defeat in the first round I won every single fight bar 1 with the same strangle that I’d been drilling over summer from the transition. It’s a great time to attack.
The same can be seen in the top levels of the UFC, Jon Jones submitted Vitor Belfort, a much more qualified grappler, by taking him down and quickly moving to side control, then landing a couple of strikes and catching the arm for an americana. Ronda Rousey almost always tries to hit her throws such that she lands in a good position on the ground but her quickest win ever against Cat Zingano was in that brief moment of confusion between standing and groundwork where an arm was free.
So what can we do to work on these transitions? Basically identify when one distinct part of the game moves to another and practice that change so that you have a better position in the new part of the fight. This can even be as simple as passing a guard. Here are some examples:
- Takedown to submission (Hip throw (ogoshi) to armbar (juji-gatame) for instance)
- checked or sprawled takedown to submission
- strikes to takedown
- strikes to clinch
- clinch to takedown
These are just a few MMA related examples but you can apply the same framework to any submission grappling, judo, BJJ or any others. The old saying “strike to pass, pass to strike” is essentially capitalising on that brief moment between striking and grappling which are so often kept separate which makes this a niche you can exploit.
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Image credits to sherdog.com