Posted on May 06 2019


By Fernando Ladera

There is an antique discussion in the MMA world between Jiu-Jitsu purists and mixed martial artists; the loyal minions of the Arte Suave assure that proper ground skill will only be learned with extensive and focused training on BJJ, and just after mastering the basics you’ll be able to translate it into the cage. In other hand, the all-around players, the MMA family, holds the belief that ground game can be develop with a mixed training approach.

Both parties have enough solid arguments and living examples of success in the octagon. The two methods are totally valid, and being that the case, we’ll talk about five key elements that translate from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into a successful MMA game:

That Takedown-Ability

In BJJ most of the action happens on the ground, but everything begins in a standing up position, you have to actually takedown your opponent to attack with submissions on the ground. Whether you are a high skilled BJJ Black Belt or a white belt amateur fighter, for sure will be a step up for your game to master the art of bringing down the opposition. A classic double-leg is the weapon of choice for most grapplers fighting MMA. Always watch for guillotines and headlocks when shooting for the legs.

The Guard 

If there is an iconic element about BJJ certainly it’s the closed guard, a relatively safe place where you can catch your breath, slow down the fight and be dangerous at the same time. Fighters like Kron Gracie and Demian Maia has proven how effective this foundational technique can be. Top position will always be king in Vale Tudo, but good guard retention will keep you safe of those deadly ground and pound hunters. The butterfly guard is another great resource to count with in MMA, since you’ll find yourself less tied to the rival and be able to stand up faster while being ready to shoot for sweeps, back takes or submissions.

Top Position

The traditional closed guard of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has been effective for years, but nothing like being punching and pounding on top, working your way in with hooks and elbows till you finally reach the mount. All of this sounds epic and for sure it is, but is hard as hell to achieve it too! It requires a good base, posture, proper weigh positioning, pressure and right timing to close all the gapes that the rival creates when defending and trying to escape. A successful MMA grappler will accomplish this only using his body weight and movement to transition from different dominant positions, saving energy for other fight scenarios and waiting for the chance to finish.

Dominant Positions

It’s almost impossible to tap out somebody without securing the position first, a MMA match will get really slippery and the chances of finishing an arm-bar in that situation are pretty low, since the limbs are able to move and escape with ease. The only way to avoid this is learning proper retention, variations and transitions of dominant positions to the submission of choice (Arm-bar from Mount, Kimura from Side Control, etc). Securing positions will allow you to find resting spots too and keep in mind that whether is a lock or an strangle, the attacking submission should be dictated by the situation.

The Mission: Submission 

You can choose to play the ground game to hold down a notorious Muay Thai heavy  kicker or an accurate power boxer, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to submit them. The ability to tap out somebody has to be trained as well. The learning should focus on the basic subs like Kimura and Arm-bar or chokes like Triangle and the RNC. As any other position in BJJ, is crucial to drill the details and tune up the set ups to successfully translate fundamental submissions into the cage. The lack of Gi and MMA gloves-on will change dramatically the ground game, so be aware of that when trying to finish your favorite choke inside the octagon.


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