Position Is The Name Of The Game For Success On The Mats

Yes you heard right, position, not submission, is the real name of the game.

I had a pretty good career in BJJ competitions by most accounts. I wasn’t perfect by any means, but I’m happy to say I won a lot more then I lost.

What makes me laugh while I’m writing all this is that I shouldn’t have been any good. I shouldn’t have won the things I did.

I’m not talented at all. I’m not fast, strong, explosive, tall or flexible. I didn’t have any of the physyical tools all my training partners had.

But that didn’t matter, at least not in my eyes. I won mostly because I understood the two most important areas of successful BJJ, technique and position.

I had smooth and fluid technical skills (i’m still a fanatic for perfect technique) and it was very difficult for opponents to get me out of position.

I tried to always work from good positions while at the same time keeping my opponents in bad ones. That strategy served me really well and I’m happy at how things panned out in the end.


Become a positioning fanatic just like me!

If you spent a good chuck of your mat time working on positions like guard passing, sweeps, defense and of course turtle guard you’re on the right track.

Submission holds are fine too but don’t give up a good position for an attempt at a sub unless you’re also certain to get it.

If you really wanna be a monster at this whole BJJ thing spend a lot of time working on the following positions:

  • Guard Passing
  • Sweeps From The Guard
  • Turtle Guard Offense and Defense

Make yourself extremely difficult to be taken out of position and you’ll do a whole lot more winning that’s for sure.


Training Tip of The Day

A great way to get some extra work in the area of position is to limit yourself to no submission holds one or two nights a week during the rolling portion of class.

By doing that you’ll be forced to focus solely on good position and maintaining control. It’s hard to do at first but over time you’ll see the results.

And If you’re one of the lucky ones you might even have some athletic ability to go along with good position. If that’s the case my god it won’t be long till you’re a freaking nightmare to roll with.

Give all that stuff a shot and let me know what comes to be. Remember I’m always down for some feedback so type away. Leave comments below or email me dannyives@gmail.com

Are You Guilty of This Major BJJ Sin?

In my many years of training and coaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I can tell you that the one major thing that holds so many back is the lack of encorperating elements from other grappling styles.

That major sin is not looking outside of BJJ for new ideas.

Styles like Judo, Wrestling and Sombo have plenty of not only techniques but also concepts that any BJJ’er could use.

The sad truth is that most BJJ students hate the very idea of working on stuff like Wrestling takedowns, or Sombo leg locks. Whether people admit it or not, there’s useful stuff to be found outside of the BJJ universe.

I think those who make it to the top are the ones always looking for that edge in their training. Lot’s of times that edge is found by going outside of your comfort zone and trying something new.

I know for me when I first started learning Judo I was anything but good. Terrible would be a good work one could use for my overall skills in Judo.

However, although i sucked, that Judo training did open my eyes to many new things I hadn’t thought of in terms of technique, training, mindset and so on.

If I hadn’t checked out Judo none of that learning would have taken place. Then who’s the real loser? I would’ve been.

Grappling is grappling. You’ve got different styles and all sure but at the end of the day they all complement each other in some way, shape or form.

A good example of this would be BJ Penn. When he was competing in major tournaments down in Brazil and around the time he won the worlds, he was training on the side with the local college wrestling team.

It showed because he used lot’s of fast and effective single leg takedowns from the De La Riva guard. In fact, if you watch his matches from the 2000 worlds you’ll see the use of wrestling skills throughout.

After he won the title he credited the training in wrestling as a huge contributor to his success.

You’re goal of course shouldn’t be to replace your BJJ game but rather use stuff like Wrestling and Judo to complement your already established skill set.

That’s my rant for this fine Sunday night. As a bonus, I’ve included some pretty kick-ass wrestling and Judo videos you should check out.

Remember, the day you stop learning is the day you die. Otherwise, keep your eyes (and mind) wide open :)

Which Styles of Guard Go Hand in Hand w/ The Turtle Guard? My Thoughts…

If you’re anything like me you use the turtle guard quite a bit, nothing wrong with that.

So here’s my question to you: what style of guard do you use? And what do you feel works best with the techniques used from the turtle?

I’ve talked to people all over the world about this subject and I can assure you everyone’s got a different take on this. It’s pretty much all over the board as to which is best.

To be truthful there really isn’t a “best” type of guard game to use. It’s more a matter of what fits your body type, abilities and overall skill set.

What I (Danny Ives) Use For The Guard Game…

I use butterfly and Half Guard as my go to skill sets when I’m on my back, aka in the guard. My body type just leads itself nicely to these particular types of guard.

It’s no secret to anyone that my short stubby legs don’t allow for a whole lot of closed guard to take place.

I’ll usually try to make use of the techniques from the butterfly guard first because I’ll be honest, everything from the half guard takes a lot more energy. I’m too old for that game. I avoid if possible.

I like butterfly guard because the techniques used are pretty low risk but with high reward. If you miss a move from butterfly guard more often then not no big deal.

The trick with butterfly guard is movement. You need to be able to go from side to side, forward and backward at the drop of a hat.

That type of movement won’t be mastered overnight. It took me years to get good at butterfly guard.

How Bout That There Half Guard? Where Does That Come Into Play?

The only real issue with half guard aside from what I was saying about being more of a high energy sweep series is that if you get stuck or pinned down from bottom half guard it can be pretty difficult to escape to turtle guard.

That and if you do escape it’s a lot of energy spent doing so.

I don’t wanna sound like I’m ragging out half guard or anything because it’s still one of the best guard games in the world. It’s just one of those things you need to understand, it takes more effort to make things work.

I don’t have time to write about all the different types of guards and how they tie into turtle guard. I wish I did have that kind of time cause I need it!

I use butterfly and Half Guard combined with my turtle guard game and that’s worked for me as well as guys like Lucas Leite and Eduardo Telles.

Keep training and sooner or later you’ll find that secret sauce that works for your style. Below I’ve included some techniques I use from both types of guard. Study up!

Learn By Watching – A Great Way To Pick Up New Ideas

So this morning I was teaching a mixed level BJJ class here at my academy. After we finished up with teaching/drilling we then moved into the live rolling part of class, which I normally take part in.

Today I decided to to sit the live rolling out and just watch the students. As I was watching I started to remember just how effective observation can be.

I’m glad I sat out because I picked up some great ideas that I’d either had forgotten about or brand new concepts that hadn’t dawned on me to try.

The point I’m trying to drive home is this: You’d be surprised how much you can learn by watching other students rolling. And by watching I mean watch everyone, not just the higher level guys and gals.

I think this is really important and often times overlooked. Sometimes it’s better to just hang back and watch the others get after it and see if you notice something that might work well for yourself.

Then you take what you see and try it for yourself. Like always some things will work great and others not so much. But by watching the class you’ve sure to gain new ideas that otherwise would be missed.

Most BJJ’er only have the chance to sit and watch when they’re forced to because of an injury or something like that. If you’re anything like me the very idea of watching vs doing isn’t appealing at all.

But in the end by having to watch you sure do learn a lot. Combine watching with note taking, video study and lots of questions and you my friend are on the winning path.

Give this whole watching thing a try. I’m willing to bet you’ll learn a few new tricks that will fit nicely into your bag of tricks.