Dominance on the ground in BJJ

Author Comments
PearlJam Newbie 5 posts
I have been practicing BJJ for a little over half a year now. All the regular guys at my gym have significantly more experience than me, most have already been practicing for a year when I started.
Because of this I spent most of my time on the bottom, eventually developing a very strong closed guard. My top work has suffered though, and I have little confidence in what are supposed to be more dominating positions, especially the side control. I feel that unless somebody new starts to train regulary at my gym, I will never develop my game from the top positions.
Do you any of you guys have ideas how to better control my opponents from the top positions (besides the mount)?
Robsco 1319 posts
That all sounds normal, but why would you wanna work with people less experienced than you? Keep working on your regular guys, and think about it, once you can control them, then you know you're doing well.

True, it may take a while, and may be a struggle, but it's more of a challenge. Taking on a pure beginner will be pointless.

Just keep working. Maybe just concentrate on keep side-control, don't worry about subs or anything else, just work on getting side and trying to keep it.

If you get sub'd, so what, just keep working at it. One day it will come.
The Admin Guy
PearlJam Newbie 5 posts
The reason that I would like to work with less experienced guys is that because I developed good defences, I have almost no fear to get caught, and so I can work much more carefree and try stuff that I wouldn't with experienced guys. Part of the reason I find it hard to dominate on top is that I'm of pretty small frame and build, and I was wondering if somebody here who shares the same predicament would come up with an advice.
Bassmonger Resident 198 posts
Just do what works for you, that's the point of BJJ really. Keep practicing the stuff you're not so good at, but in matches most people will mainly rely on the main things that they know work for them and/or they're good at. Well, I do anyway.

If I'm struggling with a stronger opponent when on top in side control, I just try to keep all my weight flat on them, and control their head. Basically, stick your arm under their neck, grip their collar from the other side and use your shoulder to force their head down and away from's not very comfortable for them, or easy to turn into you (cheers John). You also have a decent grip for control, moving and chokes. Maybe block their hips with your other arm as well or instead. With good control, they won't shift you easily, and they'll get tired after a while, making it easier to try subs.

Or just go to knee on belly.

Andy probably has some better ideas though.

Dave Addict 183 posts
PJ does the club you train in do drills? If so and you feel your game isnt improving then maybe your not doing correct isolation drills! You should be doing drills like these:-

One guy on floor the other guy in mount. Guy one has to escape to a better position(using technique) and the top guy has to go for submissions while trying to prevent the bottom guy escaping.

Guy one has guard and guy two is in guard(der:-p). Guy one has to go for subs while maintaining the better position and guy two has to pass guard in correct posture using good technique to attain the dominant position.

These are just two of a large amount of various drills that you should practise. Change positions and drill with guys of different weights. Focus on your weak points and aim for a well rounded game. Remember you are only as strong as your weakest link and it wont take long for someone to find it in BJJ.

Learn your techniques and drill them. Isolate your weak positions and drill them. Drill everything.;-)
Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Post
sl Resident 855 posts
And your definitely beter off with the more experienced guys on the mat learn from them. You wont do yourself any favours tapping the new people!
PearlJam Newbie 5 posts
Thanks everybody for your input. I guess I'll just have to bide my time, and let things take care of themselves.
Robsco 1319 posts
Let us know how ya get on PJ, I'm sure everyone is here to give you advice all the way through your training if ya need it.
The Admin Guy
andy Resident 729 posts
dont let yourself go to guard, this will make you work other aspects of your game, where do you train?
"no weapon formed against me shall prosper"
steve Resident 217 posts
If your training comprises of only drills and full on sparring with better players, then it will be hard to perfect a good technical game, cause you will spend all your time defending (as you have suggested). What you need from the better players is that they will spar with you on a progressive % basis over a couple of months. EG you do not go full on but work with your partner, i.e. if he is working a decent technique with correct positioning then dont completely resist it, but flow with it, then your turn to work a better position, and so on. A bit like you see in a worked wrestling match where the two guys flow with each other from one position, to the next, to a reversal, etc.etc. All this will sharpen the reflexes and give the body good muscle memory.

Then as weeks go by increase the resistance intensity, making each other work harder for escapes, reversals, control positions, & subs.

"Its not the size of the dog i
sl Resident 855 posts
When sparring in BJJ does anyone do Attack and Defence work, where as one person will just defend not try to sub and the other person will just attack and try to sub.... Or is this approach no good.
andy Resident 729 posts
"no weapon formed against me shall prosper"
sl Resident 855 posts
Yes you do it that way or yes its no good?
crazymofo55 Regular 41 posts
The problem that you probably have is that you aren't keeping your weight on them or you have your weight improperly balanced allowing them to offset it in a direction you're not ready to shift out of. I suggest using this kind of base.
Keep your hips low profile to the ground for a good center of gravity. Get on the balls of your feet and place them wide apart. Cross your hands over, place elbows on the ground, drive forward under your opponents chin. Don't worry about landing the choke so much because it is mostly to smother and serve as a distraction. Find an opening on them, then throw a short strike to that point by creating a small amount of distance. Use your weight and forward driving pressure for power. Open up a hammer fist or elbow to the bridge of the nose or a hook to the head/body. Beat them with it, immediatley rebalance yourself before they counter. You will be a little venerable going back to strike; however, this is preventable with quick, short releases. With enough ring awareness you can fence an opponent by slowly nudging them back. If you are going at a 45 degree angle into the barrier they are in too awkward of a postion to brace off of it. Against the wall, ropes, corner, etc. their head and one shoulder will elevate allowing you the beatdown and a handy brace.
Since your base will be wide guard sweeps will be nearly impossible so to defend they will either have to put an elevator on you, escape hips out or trap you in submissions. When you sense them opening the guard drop your weight back for a guard pass since their counter will involve offsetting your forward force. Shuffle around to the side mount immediatley. Finish with a similar three point base by positioning on a side choke. With the threat of a choke open up some punches to the head. If they make a mistake of giving you the arm go for a tapout.
Btw, if your class just teaches you defense, then ignore what I just said because they are never going to teach you dominance from the top. Top positions are all about raining punches down on your opponent. Submissions are mostly passive/reactive manuevers used on defense.
PearlJam Newbie 5 posts
Thanks for the detailed reply crazymofo, but I'm more into sports Jiu Jitsu and not Vale Tudo.
Steve - We have actually done a couple of those increasing resistance practices recently and I feel they have improved my game alot. Last time I got in early, and got my instructor to give me a few pointers on maintaining side control - He basically said what everybody else here said, using the 100Kg hold, driving the shoulder into the bottom guy's face, or going to the knee on stomach when you feel you lose control. We have been working on the knee on stomach for a while now, so I think I will stick with that for a while.

I just wanted to say that I participated yesterday in a tourney, and I won the first fight by pulling guard (my strongest position) and then sweeping to mount. I tried a few chokes but the dude kept trying to roll me so I won on points. In the second match I lost on points, I tried to pull guard when I felt I was about to be taken down, but my opponent was quicker (and an experienced blue belt) and he passed my guard and held the fight from the side control. That really pissed me off cause as I've said I've been having trouble keeping my side, but this guy was just all over me...

Again, thank you everyone for your input. Cheers
andy Resident 729 posts
yes we do
"no weapon formed against me shall prosper"


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