Learning how to dominate your opponent positionally is one of the most important skills you need to know in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ is a grappling art that emphasizes using pins and submissions to finish the opponent. It is not enough to be adept in using submission techniques, as you’ll eventually roll with someone who’s difficult to tap; you must also become an expert in situations where you have to crush using heavy top pressure. As you progress in your Jiu-Jitsu journey, learning to apply pressure regardless of your size and strength will help make you a better grappler overall. Today, we’ll go over a couple of ways to apply crushing top pressure in BJJ.
Positional dominance is an integral part of any grappling art. Learning how to use your body to move into positions where your opponent is rendered helpless is highly valuable because it is an energy-efficient way to control the pace of a match. As mentioned earlier, becoming a submission hunter is excellent but has its limitations. This is especially the case as you go up in rank. Many BJJ practitioners become so good at their submission defense that they become almost impossible to submit. If you can leverage your positional skills and overwhelm someone with pins, you not only dominate them points-wise, but also severely limit their options to attack you back. Having solid positional control also opens up opportunities for submissions. This means controlling your opponents first is recommended if you prefer to finish with a submission.
Many of today’s top grapplers in BJJ and even MMA utilize positional control to win against top-level competition. If you want to become a menace to your training partners, adding new tactics to your top game is always a smart move.
Tips To Improve Your Top Pressure
Now that we understand the value of using positions, let’s dive into several tactics to improve your top pressure. We selected side control and mount for our recommendations as these are the most commonly used pins across all belt levels.
In this video, Professor Tom from The Grappling Academy YouTube channel shares 4 hacks to instantly improve your side control pressure. Side control is a favored pin of most beginner and intermediate practitioners. It is a position that flows naturally from a completed guard pass and is generally a safe and stable pin for newbies to use.
His first tip is to expand your chest as you drop chest to chest against your opponent. Doing this makes you feel much heavier than you really are, thus maximizing your weight to its fullest potential. The second tip is to use your arms to control the upper body as you place a “rock” across the back. This seemingly minor adjustment will surely make your opponent squirm as they’ll feel stuck between your arms underneath their body and your chest on top. The third tip is to row with your arms to add more pressure to the bottom opponent. Professor Tom says that we can easily add a lot of pressure by rowing your arms as you settle down for the pin. If you are familiar with lifting weights, it is not uncommon to see regular gym goers rowing 50 lbs or more on each arm. Use this strength to your advantage to drop immense weight to your opponent. The last tip is to stay on your toes and use your weight to drive towards your opponent’s body. Combining these 4 hacks will make your side control pin a nightmare to deal with.
Here is another video from Professor Tom, as he now shares his approach to improving your mount pressure. The mount is one of the best top positions in grappling. It is a pin that leverages your body weight to nullify the opponent’s movements. Whether you train in BJJ or mixed martial arts, having a good mount is always a welcome benefit. He explains that there are 2 general types of mount: an attacking high mount and a pressure low mount.
3) Pressure Low Mount
First, let’s go over the pressure low mount. He mentions connecting your feet below the opponent’s hips as you sag your hips and bring all your weight down. This will force your hips to go lower than usual, generating more pressure towards your opponent’s torso. Professor Tom recommends first going to the low mount to tire your opponent using your weight. If you do all the steps mentioned above, it should not take long for this to happen.
4) Attacking High Mount
Once you feel it is time to go up to high mount, your goal is to flare the opponent’s elbows, jam your knees toward their armpit, and get a cross collar grip as you place your elbow to their chest. This will remove the space for the opponent to push you back to low mount. The purpose of the cross collar control is to put most of your weight on your elbow, making it super challenging to buck you off.
Note that these hacks are meant to maximize the pressure on top. Use these in conjunction with your chosen submissions, as you’ll surely see many openings once you do these tips correctly. Take note that while these are excellent options to improve your top pressure, you might still be reversed if the opponent is much larger than you. With this, be extra vigilant in their reversal attempts and do what you can to prevent this from happening.
These tips are meant to add new wrinkles to your top game. The beauty of focusing on side control and mount is that they are easy enough to get into, and you’ll surely get into these positions every time you train. We suggest you explore the techniques we discussed today and find time to practice them daily with a training partner. You’ll see the fruits of your effort in no time!
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