Submitting everyone you roll with is a lofty goal, and arguably misses the point some of the time. However, we all love a good submission and sometimes a sneaky submission is the surest path to victory.
Here are some great submission options from unconventional and unthreatening positions. They might not work every time, but they’ll usually work the first time!
Sneaky BJJ Submissions
I love setting up submissions that are sneaky and unexpected. They are the most rewarding because you get that surprised and annoyed look on people’s faces after they’re forced to tap from a position they thought was dominant for them.
That said, these types of submissions are not high percentage, nor should you base an entire game around them. Believe me, I have tried. At the end of the day, you want as much control as you can get, and you want to be on top whenever you can.
However, since you’ll inevitably be on the receiving end of bad positions in Jiu Jitsu, you might as well make the most out of it with some sneaky submissions!
The squirrel lock is a Kimura done from bottom side control using your legs. It is a very useful submission to surprise people and tap them when they least expect it. I put it at the top of my list because it seems to break the rule of only working once. To be honest, if people see it coming it is easy to get away from, but the price they have to pay is that they lose top position.
We’ve got an entire article detailing this submission for those interested in taking a deep dive, but this video covers the basics!
Helio Gracie Choke
This is one of the first BJJ submissions that worked for me both in training and competitions, and still does to this day – although it tends to only work once!
The idea is simple – from the mount, make two fists, and press them against the opponent’s carotid arteries. Open your elbows up, put your head on the ground above theirs and sprawl your hips. If you’re in the gi, make sure you’re holding the collar on both sides while making the fists. It is brutal, effective, and surprises people completely.
When it doesn’t work, you get a free back take or armbar. You get to choose.
Straight Ashi Heel Pull
A very sneaky submission and one that always makes me laugh whenever I pull it off. I laugh at how dumb it is, not at the confused person staring back at me with a mixture of sadness and anger.
It works against the straight Ashi Garami position when people are not mindful of their top leg (the leg that is behind your butt). In most cases, if you’re caught in a straight Ashi Garami, AKA single leg X-guard, that is the leg that you can’t remove.
If you instead look at the leg behind your butt on the side of your free leg, you may notice that their heel is peaking (if they do not know how to hide it). All you need to do is extend the free leg while pulling on the heel with both your arms. It is a nasty heel hook counter that really pisses people off.
If you want to pull it off against somebody that’s doing a good job hiding their leg, you’ll need to maneuver your free leg a bit to get the angle, but it is still possible and available to get it.
Foot On Neck Choke
A classic “douchebag” move, this one requires a gi to work, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to catch unassuming training partners and opponents with it. All you need to do from a guard position is to make sure you have grips on both sides of the opponent’s collar. Tilting to the side, aim to get the outside of your foot on your opponent’s neck.
Pull with both your arms as you’re pushing the outside of your foot in their trachea and you get a very nasty and quick choke. This one works from almost any guard variation.
This is definitely a highlight reel worthy BJJ submissions that probably won’t work more than once on the same person.
When it works, though, it’s fireworks. The idea is to fall to one side, while having your back towards the opponent, and both their legs in between your legs. As long as you keep their feet pointing towards you and lock their legs in a tight triangle, you’ll be able to hit the double kneebar.
A key moment is keeping both their ankles under control with your arms, preventing their feet from turning towards the ceiling or the mats.
Top Side Control Wristlock
Wristlocks have gotten themselves a reputation as being the sneakiest BJJ submissions available and this one is no exception. From top side control, any time you feel the opponent places a palm on your shoulder with their far arm it’s wristlock time!
First, block their elbow with the arm that’s near their head, and then block their wrist with your other arm. Simply by leaning forward you will get a painful wristlock submission finish. On the negative side, it will teach people never to place their arm there again, so you’re likely not going to get the same option again.
Americana From Bottom Side Control
Another seemingly impossible submission, this one is going to only work sporadically. Similar to everything else on this list, though, it will give you a way out of a bad spot and allow for fun follow-ups.
This submission is a perfect example of timing. When you’re on the bottom of side control, suffering from a crossface, turn away from your opponent, using your near side arm to pull on their shoulder. Make sure you pull them towards your belt.
Dangle your far side arm a bit to bait your opponent into reaching for an Americana. As they do, the arm that was crossfacing you become the perfect candidate for an Americana from the bottom.
Ten-finger Sprawl Guillotine
Wrapping up the list for today is the ten-finger guillotine against a turtled-up opponent. Very often people will underestimate the chin strap grip when they’re in turtle or seated. Using this against them means you’re going to sneak in your free arm on top of your chin strap arm, effectively doing a double chin strap.
Once you have it, sprawl back while scooping with your palms so that your thumbs head in the direction of your chest. Surprisingly effective and sneaky.
Be Sneaky – Get More Submissions
Tapping people out is the most difficult thing in Jiu Jitsu. If you are looking for the perfect opportunity to get a submission you may end up with very few taps to your name. If, instead you capitalize on every submission opportunity that presents itself, you will turn into a submission hunting machine, even if some of your submissions end up only working once!
Ogi is a black belt that does Jiu Jitsu full time and is very passionate about anything grappling-related.
He is also the head coach of Enso Jiu Jitsu in Macedonia and an aspiring Globetrotter.