What are the most common submissions in BJJ that you can always rely on?
If you’re a beginner, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the wide variety of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu submissions available to you, but have you noticed that most of the higher belts in your gym usually hit the same submissions over and over? Why is that?
The answer is simple: there are some submissions that you can always rely on! If you want to get the most out of your training you should focus on high percentage finishes that will be useful from white belt all the way through black belt!
Jiu Jitsu Submissions – the Cherry on Top of the Grappling Cake
Before we launch into our list of high percentage Brazilian Jiu Jitsu submissions, it is important to remember that BJJ is a complete grappling system. When you’re just starting your training you shouldn’t expect to submit many of your opponents.
Before you submit your opponent you must first achieve a dominant control position. Rushing for the submission before you have sufficient control is a surefire way to lose your position! The old adage of “position before submission” holds just as true today as it did 20 years ago, and this is a valuable lesson to learn early!
However, submissions are ultimately the truest expression of victory in BJJ. If you want your Jiu Jitsu to be dangerous and effective you must actively be trying to get into a position to submit your opponent, and once there you should attack!
7 Highest Percentage Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Submissions
When we study the highest level of BJJ tournaments such as the Mundials and ADCC we see that there are certain Brazilian Jiu Jitsu submissions that appear much more often than most. These are what are known as high percentage techniques.
Here is a quick breakdown of 7 of the highest percentage BJJ submissions – make sure you know these since they have proven themselves effective at every level!
BJJ Chokes and Strangles
The cornerstone of BJJ attacks are blood chokes, more properly known as strangles. We’ll use the terms interchangeably as that is how most BJJ players refer to these techniques. Strangles quickly induce unconsciousness – incapacitating even the strongest and most aggressive opponents.
High level competitors and coaches, including Marcelo Garcia and John Danaher, emphasize the superiority of strangles over other Jiu Jitsu submissions. No matter how much pain your opponent is willing to suffer, a properly applied strangle will always end the fight.
Rear naked choke / Bow and arrow choke
We cheated a little on this one and grouped both of these chokes together. When it comes to the most dominant Jiu Jitsu submission from the most dominant position (the back), the bow and arrow choke in the gi and the RNC in no gi reign supreme.
The rear naked choke goes by several names: RNC, Mata Leão, Lion Killer, and Sleeper Hold. Call it what you like, but the rear naked choke by any other name will still put your opponents to sleep!
While the rear naked choke is the logical choice in no-gi situations, the bow and arrow choke offers tremendous power when the gi is available. This strangle, unlike the RNC, allows your legs to assist your arms when applying the choke. The end result is that this choke is a fabulous option to use against larger opponents.
The guillotine may resemble the sort of headlock you may remember from schoolyard scuffles – but when properly applied it is a highly effective strangle. This technique can be employed against opponents who have shot in for a single- or double-leg takedown, against a turtling opponent, or set up from the guard.
The triangle choke, or Sankaku-Jime as it is called in judo (and by John Danaher fanboys) is one of the most iconic and effective BJJ submissions. This technique will require a bit of practice to master, but it is an incredibly versatile attack that is an essential part of your arsenal.
Arm Locks and Shoulder Locks
While arm and shoulder locks lack the guaranteed finish that chokes provide, they are still powerful Brazilian Jiu Jitsu submissions that can make even the gamest opponent tap. These submissions attack the elbow joint and shoulder respectively.
It is important to respect the power of these Jiu Jitsu submissions as failing to do so can cause injuries that may require surgery to fully heal!
The armbar, or Juji Gatame in judo and according to Danaher, is an attack that can be launched from nearly anywhere. You can find this attack from the mount, side control, the guard, the back (both when attacking and defending!), and knee on belly. Basically, as long as you aren’t inside of someone’s closed guard you’ve got a viable route to attack an armbar!
As is evident by the numerous positions to set this technique up from, there are many variations on the armbar!
The kimura is an incredibly powerful submission and control position. This submission goes by many names including figure 4 armlock, Chicken Wing, and the confusingly named ‘double wrist lock.’ This submission was famously used by the judoka Masahiko Kimura to break Helio Gracie’s shoulder – and since that time has been called the kimura in his honor.
Like the armbar, the kimura can be found from many positions including the guard, side control, and knee on belly.
Once thought of as low-percentage attacks borne of desperation, leg locks have enjoyed a renaissance in the last decade. Today it is vital to have at least working knowledge of these two leg attacks and many top level competitors have shown that these Jiu Jitsu submissions are effective against even the most skilled opponents.
The ankle lock, sometimes called the Achilles or Straight foot lock, is the first leg attack that you should learn if you want to compete in BJJ. This is the only leg attack legal in the gi for white, blue, and purple belt under IBJJF rules.
While this attack can be a high percentage finish, resist the temptation to favor its use over traditional guard passing. It is most effective when paired with a strong passing game as your opponent will only be able to defend themselves against one or the other.
While this technique is uniformly banned in gi competitions, the heel hook is a linchpin of no-gi submission grappling. While this dangerous technique needs to be taught and trained with extra care, it is undeniably effective in competition. Be sure to check that this technique is legal to use at your level and be sure to check with your coach before trying this out in the gym!
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of Jiu Jitsu submissions available in BJJ. However, if you look at high-level competition you’ll mostly see the 7 submissions listed above. By mastering these 7 submissions you’ll set yourself up for long-term success!
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