Jiu-Jitsu Strategies: Should I use the submission-focused or control-based approach?

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In the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), there is an ongoing debate about whether a more effective competitor should strictly focus on submissions at all costs or adopt a control-based and patient approach. Both approaches have their merits, and the choice between them often depends on an individual’s strengths, preferences, and the specific context of a match or competition. Continue reading to learn about both strategies, and their pro’s and con’s to help you decide how to approach your next match.

About Submission-Focused Approach

On one hand, the submission-focused BJJ competitor is characterized by their relentless pursuit of tapping out their opponent. They prioritize technique and speed, always seeking openings to lock in a submission hold.

The Pros

This approach can be incredibly effective in many situations, as a well-executed submission can instantly end a match, securing victory. Submission artists are known for their deep knowledge of joint locks and chokeholds, and their ability to seamlessly transition from one submission attempt to another can be awe-inspiring.

The Cons

However, the submission-focused approach comes with risks. It can be a high-stakes strategy, as any mistake or overcommitment can leave the competitor vulnerable to counterattacks. Moreover, constantly hunting for submissions may lead to a lack of control over the match, potentially resulting in points being scored against them if they fail to secure a submission. This approach often demands a high level of athleticism and explosiveness, which may not be sustainable over the long term.

About the Control-Based Approach

The control-based and patient BJJ competitor emphasizes positional dominance and methodical progress through a match. They prioritize establishing and maintaining control over their opponent, using techniques like passes, mounts, and back control to secure advantageous positions. This approach allows them to accumulate points over time, wearing down their opponent’s defenses and limiting their options.

The Pros

The control-based approach is often considered more strategic and conservative. It allows a competitor to dictate the pace of the match, conserve energy, and minimize risks. This style of play can be particularly effective in the context of a points-based competition, where accumulating points through positional control can lead to victory even without securing a submission.

The Cons

However, the control-based approach has its own limitations. Some critics argue that it can be less exciting to watch, as it may result in slower-paced matches with fewer submission attempts. Additionally, a control-oriented competitor may struggle against more aggressive opponents who are adept at escaping and reversing positions, potentially leading to unexpected losses.

What Strategy Should You Use?

In reality, the most effective BJJ competitors often strike a balance between these two approaches. They possess a diverse skill set that allows them to adapt to different situations. They know when to pursue a submission aggressively and when to prioritize control and patience. This versatility can make them highly formidable opponents.


Ultimately, the choice between a submission-focused or control-based approach in BJJ depends on the individual’s style, strengths, and goals. Some competitors may find greater success and satisfaction in the thrill of hunting for submissions, while others may excel in controlling their opponents and winning through points. What truly makes a BJJ competitor effective is their ability to combine technical proficiency with strategic decision-making, adaptability, and mental resilience. A well-rounded competitor who can switch between these approaches as needed is likely to be the most successful in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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