The Frontiers of Submission

In the modern game of submission grappling it seems as though new rules are being written, old rules are being revised or recounted, and sometimes even broken at a break neck pace.

At times this leads to great leaps in the progress of the art and at others, great disasters. And there are still other instances, where these changes in conventional thinking simply further a particular strain of the overall submission fighting game. For instance, there are many techniques and tactics that work well within the confines of submission grappling, but not as well when applied in the area of Mixed Martial Arts. Even within MMA, there are rule structures (soccer kicking/kneeing the head of a downed fighter) and environments (cage vs ring vs open mat) that will foster the development and favoritism of differing methods.

The object of this article isn’t to pass judgment or to push an agenda (stick to the basics vs. explore the frontiers of possibility). I think there is great value in both areas of study. The object of this article is simply to compile some material I’ve found interesting and explain why I feel it has some merit.

I’ve found similar types of articles on other sites, though their subjects are a lot more focused. To this day, I believe that the Darce/Brabo study and the “No Posture Guard Pass” articles on are some of the most ground breaking compilations on the internet.

So lets get down to the analysis and explanation.

The first article, the “Brabo Choke Homework” caught my attention because it showed so many different angles and set up possibilities for this one type of choke. It’s funny because I am horrible at it. Despite all the research and information available though articles like this as well as first hand personal accounts from my own, very qualified instructors, I swear, I can’t remember the last time I was even close with one of these arm chokes.

I want to say it’s because I have short arms but the truth is more likely that I am an epically slow learner and not that bright to begin with.

But what I took away from this article was a realization that paired with something I heard Sensei Erik Paulson once say concerning triangling with the legs.

“So long as you have an arm and an leg between…” you’ve got a triangle choke. This article made me realize this to a much broader and higher degree.

Moving on to the second article, The No Posture Pass series. I thought this to be very interesting. For me, I think it would be dangerous to try this pass as a first option. I much prefer to establish and maintain solid posture from within the guard. But that doesn’t mean that I have to turn my nose up to something like this. In fact, there are plenty of times when my opponents or training partners are skilled to a degree that I am unable to regain or establish posture in the first place.

This is where I give ideas like the No Posture Pass series, their due. They have a place in my game as a last resort or plan B. I haven’t necessarily had that much success with this series either. But to be honest, I haven’t worked on it that much either. I put my effort into keeping, regaining and maintaining posture. But I like knowing that there is another route I can take if things don’t go the way I plan.

I like to keep series like this in my back pocket for rainy days. They’re like building a motorcycle in your garage on the weekends.

You work on them, piece by piece, now and again, when you have a moment of free time. You never know. One day, you just may be riding that bad boy right out of a nasty situation.

Recently I’ve found some new food for thought at

The Kimura and Straight Arm Bar from within guard from Phil Migliarese and This is another technique that I just don’t ever see myself “going for” when given a choice. But, as I’ve said before, there have been numerous times where I’ve found myself without a choice. Where a skilled BJJ Black Belt has set me up and put both my arms to one side of his body, or God forbid, I made a mistake and put them there myself.

When my opponent is all over me and simply will not let me get my arm back over to the other side. Why not go for a Kimura? If you are unable to get your arm back into position, your opponent’s probably going to take your back anyway. At least this way you might be able to put him in a reactive mindset and possibly on the defensive.

I like these types of clips because they are unorthodox and can catch your opponent off guard.

The challenge is really in finding how they fit into your personal game.

I like this technique and those like it because they give you a ray of hope, just when things are at their darkest. Sometimes you might even be terrible at pulling them off, which more times than not, is how I roll.

But so long as you have something to pull off, you’ve got a glimmer of hope. You’re not just sitting there waiting for your back to be taken.

The Kimura with your legs from bottom Side Cross:

This is craziness. And I Love it! This one is so far out there that I haven’t even drilled or begun to try to figure it out for myself. But I still really enjoy the clip.

What I like most about it is that it dares to think of the possibilities and challenge the limits. It looks at the essence of a submission hold and then asks, what tools do I have at my disposal to make this work?

And that to me is what is most valuable about this clip. If you can think that way about a Kimura, you can think that way about any submission using any available machinery to get the job done.

And finally, Ryan Hall’s 50/50 Guard and No Hands Leg Lock:

I’ll be honest, when I started hearing about this new thing, the 50/50 Guard, I had to learn more. But once I got a look at it, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. It just looked like a plain old, leg lock war to me. Nothing out of the ordinary, or exceptional about it. It just looked like a position I’ve seen plenty of times before and worked within myself over the years.

But once I saw Ryan ripping knees apart without so much as hooking a heel, I took a second look.

This was what sparked my imagination. Being so technical with the isolation mechanics of a lock that you could submit or even break someone without even putting on the final touches. It inspired me to look at all my submissions in the same way and to begin the refining process, an over hall, of my submission arsenal if you will.

The first clip or Mr. Hall reminded me of Imanari’s iconic leg Kimura, except that Ryan’s was inverted/reverse but essentially the same mechanics were utilized to effect torque on the knee.

I’d love to see the clips that have inspired you guys or made you think again about your game or a technique in your repertoire. Please post them here and share.

I’ve shown you mine, it’s time to show me yours. It’s alright… I’m a Doctor.

14 replies
  1. schufflerbot
    schufflerbot says:

    outstanding article, Doc!

    as a beginner i learn SO much from your videos… it is very much appreciated.

    keep up the great work!!!

  2. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:

    Another few weeks, and a new technique pops up. Whether trained or improvised on the spot, it gives you some food for thought, if improvised why not formalize and refine it?

  3. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:

    Great to see you here Coach. I’m sorry I’ve been so hit and miss lately. Life’s had me in a choke hold and I’m just hanging on for dear life… But I’ll be back soon.

    Thanks again for all your help. I can’t wait to shoot that cross ankle pick material. GOLDEN!

  4. KJG
    KJG says:

    That Suloev move would have been a hip-crank, right?

    What’s the diference between the 50/50 guard and the Anaconda / Snake guard? Demian Maia started developing this guard a few years ago when he was having trouble utilising the X-Guard. He has a whole DVD on its applications (Volume 7 of “Science of Jiujitsu 2”).

    Hopefully this embed works:

  5. KJG
    KJG says:

    Something else that interests me is the ‘Body Lock’ that Robert Drysdale has been experimenting with. On first view it looks like the inverse triangle from Judo (the one Imada caught Masdival with in Bellator) and it can be used as a triangle, but it can also have similar positioning to a hold Kazushi Sakuraba shows in a video where he’s dressed as a mad scientist.

    But instead of rolling the opponent and attempting a neck crank, Drysdale holds one leg or both legs above the knees or above the thighs at the pelvis. In this case the submission is actually from bending the back of the opponent. It’s the last DVD in his Nth Dimension Jiujitsu set:

  6. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:

    KJG, thanks for your contributions to this article. I really have enjoyed watching the techniques in the links you’ve provided. I won’t to pretend to know all the answers to your questions but the questions you ask are definitely pertinent and important to consider.

    Thanks for tuning in to Damage Control MMA!

  7. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:

    Hey Poneyboy! What’s up yo! Good to hear from you again. I hope your 2010 has been full of goodness so far.

    I wouldn’t go out of my way to teach beginners a leg lock. And when I introduce them to a student for the first time I like for them to become familiar with the achilles tendon hold type stuff first.

    How about you Poneyboy? How do you introduce them to beginners? How’s Khuen Khru Mike? Tell him I said hello please.

  8. Skoobydoo
    Skoobydoo says:


    I don’t own the Demian Mia DVD you mentioned but from the preview it looks like his “snake/anaconda guard” is a weird hybrid of an X-guard and and an old school “wishbone” control from sambo. He’s got his an outside leg that’s pushing against the hip with his foot and the inside leg that has a butterfly hook on the guys hip.

    The 50/50 position is when your inside leg is laced over to the outside and the outside leg is hanging out free, crossing the ankle, or in a half guard leg triangle position. If both fighters straighten their legs, its a perfectly mirrored position and we both race for the inverted heel hook on the foot that’s by our hips.

    So, Demian Mia is showing a leg control position, 50/50 refers to symetrical leg position where you could both triangle your legs (interlaced leg triangles) while staring eachother in the face.

    Having trouble spelling it out in words, hope you understand what I’m trying to say.


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