What To Do When Starting From Your Knees in BJJ

Here’s some great advice from my good friend John Connors of FightersConfidence.com. John and I received our black belts on the same day from Roberto Maia. He’s an excellent grappler and mental game expert. – Stephen Whittier


What do you do when starting a BJJ sparring session from your knees?


I have so many white belts that face confusion in this position. Yes, it’s an unnatural fighting position and you would rarely find yourself fighting in this position even in a sport jiu jitsu match. So what to do?


I’ve developed two simple complementary techniques that are easy to learn and work quite well. More importantly, these techniques teach a fundamental concept of grappling.


So check out this short video and the explanation below:




  1. When facing an opponent that is standing on their knees, I place my left foot forward flat on the mat between their knees. I’m not shy about getting too close and I’m not concerned that my opponent might grab my leg. So much the better if he does.


  1. My left hand will have a collar tie on my opponent’s neck and upper body. My left forearm will be flat against their chest while my hand controls the back of their neck and head.


  1. My right hand will reach to block the outside of my opponent’s left knee.


  1. Now I will drive forward, pushing my opponent backward and essentially doing a knee cut pass with my left shin and knee cutting across the opponent’s left thigh landing on the mat next to my opponent’s side.


  1. Now I look to secure the far side underhook with my left hand to finish in a good side control.


  1. Now because I’m working with a training partner and teammate, I make sure that I drive them over on the diagonal instead of pushing them straight backwards. Not everyone has the ankle mobility to withstand getting pushed straight back and this could possibly result in  a knee or ankle injury.


  1. Now if my opponent resists, they can only do so by leaning forward and buttressing their body against the force. When they do this they are perfectly set up to butterfly sweep.


  1. So when I meet resistance, I immediately slide underneath my opponent and onto the side of my right hip. I’m trying to get my body to the fulcrum position to make the sweep as efficient as possible.


  1. Now my left knee will not be cutting across but will be on my left to secure the butterfly hook.

 10. I keep the same collar tie grip with my left hand and now my right hand just blocks my opponent’s left arm to allow me to finish the butterfly sweep.

11. These two simple complementary techniques illustrate the concept of push-pull. When I push into my opponent, they tend to push back giving me an opportunity to stop pushing and getting out of the way, so to speak, and now I have gravity helping me move my opponent.


Of course, this also underscores the important concept that we almost always want to work our techniques in combination. We attempt a technique and our opponent defends and overcompensates and that makes the next technique easier to execute.


So there you go. Now you have two simple effective techniques to combine and throw at your training partner when you start on your knees. And you won’t waste any time getting into you rolling.


For more useful information, please visit www.FightersConfidence.com


Now get out there and train!


Coach John Connors





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