In this last installment on fine-tuning your sparring time I would like to talk about starting your sparring sessions from bad positions. Starting out in a bad position is a good way to rapidly improve your pin escapes and submission counters. It is also a great way to challenge yourself, particularly when sparring lighter or less experienced people.
Here are some potential ways to start your sparring:
- Your partner pinning you in mount, side mount or rear mount. He should make sure that he is attacking from that position, and is not just holding on for dear life. The sparring round ends when you tap or you escape into a neutral position (e.g. guard).
- Your partner in the armbar position with you clasping your hands together.
- You in the turtle position and him on top of you, with the grip of his choice.
- You in your partner’s guard and in a loose triangle choke, his legs crossed at the ankles.
- You standing and your partner grabbing both of your legs behind your knees, as if he’s just shot in on a double leg (you could also do similar drills from a single leg, high crotch or low single position). His goal is to take you down, and your goal is to escape or counter his takedown.
- Any other bad position you can think of, particularly ones that you have difficulty escaping from in sparring.
There are three ways you can do this drill. First: you could simply start your sparring session in this position, and if you escape then just continue sparring until the round ends or someone taps. Second: when you escape from your positional predicament stop and immediately go back to the same position. Third: you and your partner can change positions after each submission or escape, so that you can both get the benefits of being on top and on bottom.
These drills also benefit your partner. For example, while you are working on your mount escapes he is working on maintaining the mount position and attacking from there. No matter who taps, everybody wins!
Letting your sparring partner start in a dominant position is not a training method for people with fragile egos.
Understand this: if you let people start in a dominant position you WILL get tapped out more often in training, and you WON’T catch your partners in as many submissions yourself. On the other hand, your ability to defend against submissions and escape from bad positions will skyrocket, and when you do get caught in a bad position it’ll be just another day in the office rather than a reason to panic.