Getting a submission finish in grappling is the ultimate way of winning a match. Not only that, but it proves your technical superiority over another trained grappler. What grappling comes down to, essentially, is just that – proving who has better technique and cunning. That said, there’s something even better than getting a submission, although it might not be a match-winning endeavor. That is getting out of a really deep and tight submission attempt. It is a great way to prove that despite your opponent’s best efforts, your technique is superior. The ultimate victory, though, brings an escape and a submission finish together. When you use a submission counter to escape and submit your opponent right away, you’re not only going to beat them – you’ll completely demoralize them.
Submissions can be really fun and attractive, but they also carry risk with them. No matter how good your positioning is, once you go for a finish, you risk an opening. it can be an extremely small one, but it is still going to be there. All submissions offer your opponent a chance to utilize counters and surprise you. Or, if you are the one stuck in submission, offer you submission counters. Going for a submission counter to a submission is never a smart first strategy. You need to try and keep submission attempts as far away from you as possible. Prevention is the best cure, but sometimes it is just not available.
When this is the case, you need to make sure you have a silver bullet ready. Do all submissions have submission counters? Probably. Can we learn them all? Probably not. However, there are a few that have proven to work over the years. We’ll present four such concepts in this article, offering you a real life get out of jail free card. Some of the counters are so common you’ve probably heard of them, like the Von Flue choke. Some, however, are so sneaky and obscure you’ve never even thought of them, And, when you see how easy and simple they are, you’ll never forgive yourself for not discovering them earlier.
The Submission Game
The submission game in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is why BJJ is called the game of human chess. Looking to get a submission takes as much effort and focus as it does to avoid it. Despite other grappling martial arts having submission games of their own, none is as deep as the one Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has. The number of positions you can get a submission from alone makes it impossible to have a defense ready for everything.
The trouble with submission counters in BJJ is that they usually run in a circular fashion. That means that every counter has a re-counter, and so on and so forth. For now, some moves do not have counters yet. However, that’s sure to change as the game tirelessly evolves at a great speed. In our selection today, we focused on submission counters that are, at the moment, the finishing point of a submission exchange sequence.
The one thing you need to remember about submissions in BJJ is that they’re not as secure as you might think. Despite the best positioning possible, each individual is different, which leaves space for resistance. Setting successful submissions up relies much more on deception and hiding in plain sight than it does in correct positioning. To that extent, when you’re looking for submission counters, the same logic applies – you need to be sneaky and deceptive.
Simple And Sneaky Submission Counters
The thing with counter submissions is that you have only two ways of getting them. One is to have perfect timing, which in BJJ, is next to impossible. The other one is to anticipate what’s going to happen and allow it to happen instead of blocking it. This is going to lure your opponent in a false sense of security. For example, if you decide to allow your opponent Kimura grips, they’ll think they can submit you with ease. Instead, your goal is to hit a sneaky submission counter using the structure they’ve established.
There another issue that arises when you’re focusing on submission counters. If you try and use overly elaborate moves to counter submissions, you’ll most likely fail. In order to have efficient counters, they need to be as simple as possible. When you’re caught in a submission, there’s no place for inversions or crazy jumps. Simple movements and a few sneaky techniques are all you need.
Dean Lister can help you become unsubmittable while you counter each and every submission thrown your way. He has an awesome instructional, the “Worry Free Escapes” DVD set, that can solve every position you get in. Yes, it includes heel hook escapes and counters as well!
Von Flue Choke 2.0
We’ll start with the mother of all submission counters to a submission – the Von Flue choke. This is the top choice for people when they’re facing a guillotine from the bottom. For the choke to work, you’ll need to be deep in a guillotine though, which is anything but comfortable.
The key thing to remember is to relieve pressure as much as you can straight away. Once you feel the guillotine grips are closed, you need to get an arm on the wrist of the choking arm and pull down. Your other arm needs to go over the opponent’s shoulder and reach down their back. This is the crucial arm for the executing the Von Flue choke.
Let’s say that you’re caught in a guillotine from the half guard. For the classic Von Flue choke, once you get your grips, you’ll need to get your head on the mats and pass to the opposite side of the choke. This will get you in a position to get a choke yourself. However, you can also hit this submission counter from the top half guard as well. All you need to do is switch your hips back and forth, while you place all your weight in their neck, via your shoulder. If you can’t quite get it, passing to side control where you’re guaranteed to finish is much easier now.
Kneebar Arm Triangle
In today’s BJJ game, it is quite common for someone to look to get a kneebar from the half guard. The usual setup involves them grabbing your free leg and inverting, thus getting it in between their legs. Form there kneebar finishing options are plentiful for your opponent. What you must do to avoid allowing them that is react fast. Once they invert, use your leg to hook their inside leg. This will prevent the roll and trap your opponent in an inverted position.
Once you have that position, you can look to get into a sort of seatbelt control. The goal here is not getting the back, though, but going for a submission of your own instead. The easiest thing to get is an arm triangle. All you need to do is open up your opponent towards the initial position they came from. Now, however, because of the hook, you’ll end up in side control getting both pass points and a tight arm triangle finish.
AS you should know by now, the common defense to an arm triangle choke is called answering the telephone. Instead of allowing you to finish the choke, the opponent looks to get their forearm in between you and their head. This creates breathing space because it keeps their shoulder away from their neck. The defense is known as “answering the telephone”. All the squeezing in the world won’t help you to finish, especially if the opponent is bigger than you.
This is when you turn to the next step. This is not really a counter submission but it is a great way to counter a counter of their own. Whenever the opponent looks to call the phone, you need to have your answering machine ready. The position of their arm means that you can go for an armlock. Use your head to trap their elbow in place and get a grip on their wrist. Then, simply pull their wrist to the outside for a really painful and fast finish.
A Kimura Counter Submission To A Kimura Attack
This is one of the best submission counters I’ve ever learned in my life. it works perfectly against everyone when you set it up right. The goal here is to counter a Kimura from the half guard when you’re on top. Whenever you post an arm from top half guard, the most likely outcome is that the bottom person is going to attempt a Kimura.
When they do, the worst thing you can do is panic. Instead, let them establish their grips, but do not allow them to put their weight behind the move. Instead, look to lift your arm and thread your palm between you and the opponent. This is a surprisingly strong position for you. However, the opponent won’t realize and they’ll look to hold on even stronger. This makes your counter submission that much easier. All you need to do is get a figure four grip yourself and pop their arm behind. Now, you are the one with the Kimura, but they can’t go back toward the mats without breaking their arm. Finish at will!