Submissions as Sweeps

Submissions end fights, and sweeps take you from the bottom to the top. At first glance they seem like very different types of techniques, but this week I’m going to discuss how they sometimes merge into one another.

There are times when you lock on a submission but sense that you won’t be able to finish it – maybe your opponent is too strong, perhaps you don’t have it on quite right, or maybe your timing was off. In these cases you can sometimes use the submission to force a reversal, forcing your opponent to the bottom. Now that you are on top you can either continue attacking with the same submission or switch to a different strategy.

To illustrate I am going to talk about 3 different submissions: the Kimura, the Omo Plata, and the Ten-Finger Guillotine.

The Kimura is a versatile move that can be applied from many different positions. From the bottom you can use it from inside the guard, the half guard, or even when you are pinned in side mount.

When you lock this submission onto an opponent he will often roll to alleviate pressure on his shoulder: if you are expecting this counter you can follow him to the top. If you manage to maintain your grip as you roll then you are usually in a much better position to finish the Kimura; if he manages to escape his arm then you have still accomplished a sweep and can continue attacking him from above with some other technique.

The Omo Plata is one of my favorite attacks from the guard, but if I had to guess I’d say that it only results in a submission about one third of the time. The rest of the time it results in a sweep, either as your opponent tries to roll or as you force him over using the leverage created by the position.

The Ten Finger Guillotine is considered by some to be a top secret move, but Chris Brennan and I recently wrote an article about it. I’m not a Ten-Finger expert yet, but I’m using it a lot these days to force reversals. Whether I apply this choke from the guard, half guard or the sprawl it always generates a reaction. People either tap out or freak out, and the freaking usually involves frantic somersaulting with me ending up on top.

OF COURSE the goal is to get the submission not the sweep! But goals can’t always be achieved directly, sometimes you have to take a few detours to get there. Locking on a submission and using it to reverse or sweep your opponent is just a detour. Submissions are usually easier to apply from the top anyway!

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