One BJJ session a while ago my instructor was going over some attacks from side control with an underhook. He talked about how side control with an underhook is his “top position mission control”. What he meant was that he defaults to that spot if he ever gets into trouble. He feels comfortable there. He likes to attack from there, and is comfortable keeping the position.
That got me thinking about where I most want to be. Where is my mission control? The answer to that will be different for everyone.
Think of Marcelo Garcia for instance. Watch him roll with guys at his academy. You’ll notice that his mission control is the seated butterfly guard. If he gets his guard passed he escapes back to there. If he loses control in mount he goes back to there. If he misses a submission he just goes back to there. All roads lead back to the seated butterfly guard. Then, you start going through his moves and you realise why he defaults back to the seated butterfly guard. He has a great game from that spot.
So, where am I good? Am I good from the combat position going head to head with my opponent? Am I a guard player that loves to be in closed guard? Do I love taking the back? Do I love side control? Where am I best? Where am I the most comfortable?
The answer will help me determine what escapes I use.
In my study of escapes I’ve realise that there are many, many escapes from each position. So, how do you pick which ones to use? Well, understand my mission control spot, and the escapes are picked for me.
There’s a guy that I roll with at the club that always looks to get back to his knees. He loves fighting from there. So, he’s always escaping to his knees, then retreating to reset the fight. There’s another guy that always wants to get back to guard. He’s a guard player, so that’s where he wants to be. He pulls guard from the start. He understands that he wants to be there. Another guy loves being on top, so he generally only uses escapes that give him top position.
This logic not only applies to escapes. It also applies to sweeps, submissions, passes, and takedowns. Know where you like to be, and design your game around getting to there. If you love keeping mount, you’re not going to be an armbar guy. If you love keeping side control you’ll likely be a figure 4/kimura fighter. If you’re a sweep player your top game will be very fluid and attacking because you’re more than happy to reset with a sweep from the bottom if you miss.
With escapes you prioritize. If you love attacking the back you’ll prioritize escapes that put you on the back of the opponent. If you’re a guard player you’ll want to prioritize escapes that put the opponent back into guard. Better yet, if you’re happy in both places you will happily combine escapes to the back with escapes to guard.
Understand where you want to be. Design your escapes (and your entire game) around that.
Or, think of it like this. If you’re in Rome, you’re where you want to be. If you’re not, design a game where all roads lead back to Rome.