As most Black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I roll with my students everyday. This enables me to see and feel the way my students are rolling. One thing I always hear from my white and blue belts is, “I always feel like I ‘m fighting a loosing battle, constantly defending and always a step behind.” The answer I’m sure you hear a lot is, “You are only a [insert belt color) keep working and you will get more tools.” Another one might be “that’s the way it will be until some new people come in for you to work on” or something like that. By watching and rolling in 30+ matches a week, I have noticed a very bad habit that most white and blue belts do. They always lose the beginning of the grip fight. Most of the time its not even a fight, it’s the higher belt taking what ever grips they want, while the newer student does’t try to stop them, or even, try to get a grip of their own. “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” ― Napoleon Bonaparte. All the higher belts know your are making this fundamental mistake. The thing is it makes rolling with you that much easier.
Before you engage (ie: take down, getting on top, or pulling guard) you must win the grip fight FIRST! If you are starting standing, or on your knees, your grips or preventing their grips is your first mission. The grips are the most important part, not only your grips, but your opponents grips. As your match is starting if you don’t have the grips that you need (your go to grip) don’t allow your opponent to have whatever grips they want. What I see all the time is, one person gets their grips of choice, and the other person just lets them push them over on their back or pull them into closed guard. This is the biggest mistake you can make. As someone starts to control you, you need to focus all your energy and concentration on either breaking that grip, or using that grip to your advantage. The main reason is that any grip can give your opponent a higher level of control. Even if it’s a little control at that moment, they could use that one grip to get a large amount of control by hip movement and/or re-gripping. You can think of it as them peeking through your half opened window: you don’t want them to open the window and climb through it; I would rather have you slam that window on their fingers, so they don’t even want to grip again.
Soon you will start to know what grips are very dangerous and what grips you can let them have. This will come with time and feeling. I tell people to think of grips as an electric shock; don’t let your opponent SHOCK YOU, you do the shocking! They laugh, but they remember it. You must use grips to help your movements, but also keep in mind above all else grips are control, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem, the correct grip in the right hands they can end a fight quick.
Drilling is the key, so just do it.
Talk to you soon, and thanks for sharing this.