The Best Defense Is a Good Offense

Back when I used to teach Fundamental Jiu Jitsu at 10th Planet Van Nuys I never taught any defensive counters to moves. I instead choose to focus on the concepts behind an attack. Why? In my mind you don’t need to know defensive counters. If you understand the concepts behind an offensive attack you can effectively shut down your opponent’s offense.

So why didn’t I teach counters? I’ve found that knowing a defensive counter to a move is good if you can piece all of the pieces to a counter together. If you can follow an A to B to C path you can successfully block a submission. I would never deny that these counters are highly effective and should be learned BUT what happens though when you can only get to part B in your path. What if your partner is blocking you from getting to C? What do you do then? That’s where I believe that knowing the concepts behind an attack become important.

So how does one go about countering a move without applying a specific counter? The first step is becoming aware of what submission you are caught in. In the leg defense portion of No Kurtka, Reilly Bodycomb talks about there not being one specific defense for leg attacks. I think this applies to all moves. Yes there are defenses that work a majority of the time but it’s important to identify your specific situation before you start to counter.

In the situation below the first thing you should be doing is becoming cognizant that you are being put into a Kimura.

Ok so we are being put in a Kimura. The next step is to think about what the top player needs to do in order to finish the Kimura. The more familiar you are with a submission the quicker you can analyze the submission and think about what your partner is trying to do. Below are the steps that I would take to finish this Kimura.



After you have identified what your partner needs to do to finish the submission you need to work on stoping him from progressing. For example if your partner has placed your hand behind his back, you need to fight to get your hand in front of your body or get your body flat to the mat so they can not move onto step 3. If your partner needs to pin your elbow to his chest, you need to fight to keep that from happening. That may mean Gable gripping your hands or it may mean putting your elbow in the danger zone for a brief second while you try and slide it out of his figure four grip.

Now I’m not going to lie, this skill takes lots of mat time to develop. In fact I can guarantee that you are going to get tapped over and over again to the same moves for a while. Like most things in Jiu Jitsu it’s going to take time. Once it clicks though you will see immediate improvements in your defensive game.

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