“Offense scores points, defense wins championships,” was a common saying a former coach of mine always told my middle school basketball team. BJJ and MMA are far different than basketball, however the same defensive mentality should apply.
Defense is a big part of any sport. You can be as good as you want on the offensive side, but if your defense is weak, you won’t get very far. Some of the ideas in this blog tie in pretty well with my first one “How to Train Properly for an Upcoming BJJ Competition.”
Below I have a few ideas that have helped me get good at defending, including being comfortable in bad positions, being mentally and physically prepared to defend, and planning ahead. I have been told quite often that I am hard to submit and control and I feel that these ideas will also help others.
Be Comfortable in Bad Positions
In order to get your defense on point, one must practice different situations and scenarios over and over until it becomes automatic. A lot of people have the tendency to panic or get frustrated as soon as they get put in a bad spot. This is the time to relax and think about what you need to do in order to have the advantage back on your side. The more you get tapped in practice, the more you are going to learn, plain and simple. You can’t expect to go to your gym and wipe the mats with everyone. If that is the case, you should probably find a place where you can be challenged.
Professional Fighter Emmanuel Sanchez putting a fellow fighter in a D’arce Choke. Put yourself in bad BJJ or MMA situations and practice your escape. Emmanuel Sanchez is wearing HMIT Training MMA Gloves and Supreme Hybrid Shorts in Red
Be Mentally Prepared to Defend
When I say be “mentally prepared,” I am referring to the skill that allows one to recognize and see what moves are coming their way. This is the beginning of getting your defense on point and takes time to master.
For example, you are in someone’s guard…right away you should know they are either going to try and sweep you or submit you and they should know that you are going to try to pass.
As soon as a movement is made you can start to figure out what they might be trying to set up and begin defending, which will then allow you to become offensive.. The more practice you have with this will allow you to start defending before it’s too late. You will be able to see and understand this more after watching the video I have posted below.
Bellator MMA Fighter and Black Belt Emmanuel Sanchez and a fellow teammate in a BJJ Rolling session. Both meticulously planning attacks and defenses at the same time. Emmanuel Sanchez is wearing a Combat Corner Gi.
Be Physically Prepared to Defend
If your plan is to one day compete in BJJ tournaments or step into the cage, strength and conditioning is going to play a big part. I feel that if this area is not taken seriously there will be certain opponents you just won’t have an answer for.
Now, being physically prepared doesn’t just mean get as strong and conditioned as you can, but being able to execute the movements and techniques that you have been practicing.
Little things, such as shrimping, hip movement, building your frame, giving or taking space, etc., should constantly be happening while one tries to defend. You have to be persistent until you get the position you want.
Emmanuel Sanchez drilling some Ground and Pound Techniques, wearing HMIT Lace Up Boxing Gloves in Yellow/Black and Supreme Hybrid Shorts in Yellow
Like I mentioned above, you should always have an understanding of what your opponent’s next move might be. Once you have this, a plan of attack/defense can be created. Basically, a few moves should be ready to attempt. If plan A fails, try B. If plan B fails, try C. If C fails, go back to A or something else. With that being said, you should also have an understanding of how your opponent might try to counter you. Based off of that, another plan of attack/defense can again be created. This process will continue throughout the match.