BJJ / Grappling Tips: The four corner stones of Gracie Jiujitsu

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to be on the mat at the Gracie Academy out in Torrance California when Ryron was giving one of his first introductions to a 4-pronged approach to grappling and jiujitsu. He saw me intently taking notes and started laughing. Knowing my intentions, he asked me to not publish them immediately so, 2 years down the line, I feel I've honoured my promise.

In a nutshell, he explained that he approaches every exchange with these objectives:

  • Defend: anything the opponent may try to throw at you: including distance management
  • Escape: When the time is right, escape the bad position
  • Control: Using 3 methodologies (explained below) control the chaos when you are in a dominant position
  • Submit: only if it fits within the grand objective of survival.  It's not always necessary to submit.


within defence, for example the triangle, you want to defend as early as possible. The highest percentage defences are the ones addressing the opponent's earliest actions. What keeps us from that is our impatience and rushing into movement.


the cleanest escape (First level) happens when the attached is fully focused on attacking and not on controlling. These are facilitated by relaxing to facilitate calmness and sensitivity to the opponent's actions and even intent.

The next level of escape is through the 1-2 combinations. A famous one is combining a strong Upa reversal from the mount with a well timed elbow knee escape.

The third level is forced escape. There’s no opportunity but we can eek out the escape through a 2-5% window of opportunity.


The 3 controls:
Through tightness
Through looseness and by hovering into the correct position
Through offence and positional changes which will constantly keep them on the defence.


Be alert to when they defeat themselves through exhaustion. Don’t ignore these opportunities. If you do, you may lose these opportunities and he whole controlled position. Finishing someone can indeed be for your own safety.

Sometimes, however, submitting your opponent can come when you choose to. This is when they are holding back and not engaging. This is done by baiting or attacking with punching or (in pure grappling) attacking the neck.

Each of these cornerstones deserves books worth of research and investigation. If you rush one, you give your opponent a chance to climb their hierarchy and catch you.



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