There’s a useful phrase that my friend and champion competitor Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins uses all the time…
“Correct the position.”
Let’s say you launch your opponent through the air with an absolutely perfect butterfly guard sweep. He lands flat on his back, and you race to the top and get to sidemount.
Of course you still want to press forward and improve your position, maybe going to mount or maybe attacking with a submission.
But real life is messy, and people don’t want to give you a better position, or surrender their arm or their neck quite so easily. They’ll twist, squirm, and fight you, doing their very best to undermine your position. It is highly unlikely that your sweep will land you directly in the perfect pinning position, because he’s going to be fighting you like a fiend as he’s going over, trying to prevent you from getting that optimal position.
And maybe in your haste to get to the top the placement of your hands, feet, elbows or knees wasn’t quite correct initially either.
That’s OK. This is normal. Things are rarely 100% correct right off the bat.
This is where it’s often worth taking a second or two to correct your position. Make sure you’ve got your grips. Secure your crossface. Try to separate his arms from his body using your legs.
(This is what Brazilian coaches want you to do when they yell ‘Stabilise, stabilise!’ at you from the sidelines)
Correcting the position before you proceed can be very powerful, because with each micro-adjustment you’re putting your opponent into deeper and deeper waters.
The same thing applies to submissions.
You stuff one of his arms between your legs and lock your legs around his neck and arm in the classic triangle position.
But rarely is your first draft of the triangle perfect.
Maybe one of your legs is a little bit too low across his back, maybe you’re not pivoted quite enough, maybe you’re squeezing his shoulders and upper back instead of his neck, or any of the other triangle choke errors…
The problem is that if you go all out trying to apply a badly aligned triangle choke then not only will it probably not work, but you might also burn your legs out and then lose the submission altogether.
So unless your initial triangle is perfect you’ll often need to keep his head down and posture broken with your arms, then open your legs, pivot your body just a little further, sink your leg in just a little deeper, or reposition his arm across your belly.
All those little adjustments also count as ‘correcting the position.’
You definitely need to know how to correct the position in the six primary BJJ positions and the major BJJ submissions (click here to download my Roadmap for BJJ that takes you through each of the fundamental BJJ positions).
Sometimes you’re best off to take the time, make the little adjustments, tighten the position, and completely shut down your opponent’s ability to escape.
Now it’s important to recognise that correcting the position is only ONE tool in the toolbox. It’s not the be-all-and-end-all. There are actually times when it’s not appropriate.
You won’t always be able to correct your position this in every situation.
Sometimes you’re better off to scramble to your next position even if your positioning isn’t 100% perfect. Sometimes you just have to hustle to take advantage of a temporary advantage. In that case it’s OK to proceed before everything is perfect.
Knowing when to scramble and knowing when to correct your position is something that comes with time.
If you’ve been at this sport for a while then you’re probably already instinctively doing this. And if you’re new to the sport then it’s sufficient just to know what the options are. But take heart – you’ll figure it out!
In the words of Kenny Rogers,
“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run.”
Correcting the position. It’s a very useful concept and a very powerful tool to have in your toolbox!
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