Transitional or Positional Control

12 12 2009

Let’s start by talking about control in terms of Jiu Jitsu. There are many different ways to control someone in Jiu Jitsu depending on what position you are in. For the sake of this conversation let’s talk about control when you are on top either in side control, knee on the belly, north and south, mount, or the back. I have noticed that for the most part there are two general types of control when you are on top either positional control or transitional control.

Positional control is when you assert your control over your opponent by not letting them out of whatever dominant position you have them in. I have found that the majority of new whitebelts all the way to entry level blue belts roll mainly with just positional control on their minds. It is very evident by the way they hold their sidecontrol. Most of the time I see them with their body totally rigid with muscles flexed and pulling their opponent to their own body. (sidenote doing this type of sidecontrol connects you totally to the other person) The whole idea behind this type of control is to hold the position for as long as one can. This can be extremely exhausting. Doing positional control like this requires lots of muscle endurance and strength. Can a whitebelt form a decent top game by doing this over and over? Theoritically yes, but I will tell you this; it’s not easy and it takes a lot of strength… A lot of strength!! This however is just one part of positional control and I want to pause here now in my explaination of positional control because to explain further would be to involve transitional control.

Transitional control is where you control your opponent by not keeping him from escaping but by realizing that he is escaping and to transition ahead of him to another dominant position. For example say you are holding your opponent in sidecontrol and you recognize that they are begining to attempt an escape. Instead of fighting with your opponent you transition to knee on the belly before they have fully initiated their escape out of your sidecontrol. This type of control requires a keen mind, sensitivity, fluidity of movement, good angles, and little strength. The idea is to never really try to hold a position but instead to always transition ahead and allow your movement and your body do all the work; not your muscles.

My own personal game started out with the positional control. In the begining that seemed to me, to be the object of the roll. At this time in my Jiu Jitsu journey submissions weren’t really happening a whole lot so I focused more on trying to dominate my opponents positionally. My thinking was that I would have to first learn how to solidify a position before I could ever look for a submission. Hence the age old saying in Jiu Jitsu position before submission. Well eventually through lots of mat time and grueling rolls (because of my style, at the time my rolls were dominated more by my muscles than my movement!) I started to gain success in my positioning and eventually that led to submissions. But Here’s the thing… People stopped wanting to roll with me. My training partners began to avoid me when it was time for live rolling at the gym. This was disturbing and I didn’t understand it. I was told this is how you do it. I was shown techniques and ways to hold positions and then I was told to try my best to do those things in a roll. I finally asked someone in the gym that I trusted to give me a straight answer and I asked him if people at the gym were avoiding rolling with me and he said “yes sir, your a beast and honestly it sucks rolling with you.” I have to be honest with you, hearing this made me feel pretty good. I mean wasn’t this the whole reason I signed up to do this stuff? Become the best at the gym. Answer that natural competitive nature inside of me? The answer is yes but at what cost? I realized that because of the way I rolled people no longer wanted to train with me. This bothered me because if no one trained with me how was I going to continue to progress? At the time I was a proud blue belt. It was in this moment that I figured the way I thought was wrong and also the way I had been taught was wrong. I realized that I put to much importance on rolls that happened in traing. I competed everytime I rolled with someone! Which I now know is not the best way for me personally to develop as a Jiu Jitsu PLAYER! So I decided to try and relax more in my training rolls. I planned to do this by relaxing and relying more on sensitivity and transitions in my rolls rather than strength. Even going so far as allowing people to start their escapes and not try to fight them but instead try to outthink them and then beat them to the punch. For me this was the way my transitional control was born.

Since I chose to begin developing my transitional control I have noticed a couple key things that I would like to share. Transitional control is made up of a balance of two key elements… Stability and Mobility. To be continued…




3 responses

16 12 2009
Leo O'Brien

Brother, enligtening…. Holding position… that is me…As a active Judoka as well as a jiu-jitsu player I tend to get locked into getting position on the ground and holding it…From rolling with jiujitsu players like yourself and others I am learning I have to relax and go with the flow…more fun, less injury’s and less exhausting… Thanks…

31 12 2009

Happy New Year to everyone at Ohana. Nick.

4 01 2010
Brett Kuykendall

Man, That sounds familiar, I always tried to get in a dominate position because of my size however I found out quick that didn’t always work. (Thanks Jason).
Great read look forward to reading more

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