Submitting opponents with Jim Alers
There are few things funnier than watching two grown men grapple when neither of them know how to submit the other. It looks like they’re children, playing a constant game tug of war but with no real goal in mind. Just grabbing each other’s arms back and forth tiring each other out. Or my favorite, when one guy will mount the other and struggle to keep him down until he gets too tired to hold the position and the other guy rolls him over and mounts him. With the cycle endlessly repeating until they are both too tired and lay on top of eachother. It’s even funnier watching the dramatic shift in ability after just a BJJ class or two, when one guy knows how to submit his opponent and the other does not.
Grappling without the knowledge of how to submit your opponent is like boxing without the knowledge of how to punch your opponent. Can you even call yourself a boxer? Even if you’re only plans on the ground are “get back up” or “go for the ground and pound”, you need to at least know a few basic submissions if you are to succeed in MMA. Just like with surviving submissions many fighters, including the community on our email list struggle completing submissions during their rolls.
That’s why we asked our community what difficulties they had when they are completing submissions. For some further research we took some of the most common questions and spoke with the UFC fighter Jim Alers. He has a record of 13-2 with 69% of those victories coming from submissions. All of them being chokes. He is more than qualified to answer all of the questions the FighterEmpire community has asked us.
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“In your opinion, what is the most effective submission?”
Jim Alers: “I believe that half of my game comes from the back. I think from the back you have the most you know… opportunities. And from there I think to be honest the rear naked choke. Once it’s locked in there’s no turning back. If you have it locked in and tight I think you can tap out anybody. So for me that’s the most effective submission”
“I never have a problem getting someone into a submission, but once I do they always seem to escape leaving me in a terrible position. What tips do you have to make sure they won’t escape once I’ve gotten them?”
Jim Alers: “Well for me, position before submission. I believe that I see tons of guys they’re so fast to try to get the attack and past the defense that it’s setup properly but not even in the right position and because of that they lose that submission. So I believe that if you establish great position that there’s no chance you’re losing that submission.”
FighterEmpire: “So just take your time and make sure you have control over your opponent before you try to submit them?”
Jim Alers: “Exactly.”
“Most of the time I get someone into a submission they’re done and not getting out. But my problem is, I can hardly ever get someone in one. What tips do you have for getting someone into a submission? Like an armbar or a choke?”
Jim Alers: “So that all comes with timing. You’re not just going to get on the mat after you learn an armbar and armbar someone you know? Or any submission. You might get it, but you might not have the right technique to finish it. Timing and practice. So my technique is just to drill the submission over and over and over again. And when you grapple there’s three types of training partners. There’s the one that beats you up, there’s the one that gives you a good roll and a guy you can practice your moves on. Don’t kill him, but get your moves out there practice your submissions and let it become second nature to you.”
“I’m finding whenever I attempt to put someone in a submission I am quickly countered. People in class I’ve been rolling with say its because I am too predictable. What tips do you have to mask that you are going for a submission?”
Jim Alers: “So I think that’s always the next step. White belt you’re just learning the submissions, a blue belt they have some submissions but they’re not thinking 2-3 moves ahead. But when you get to purple belt I think that’s when you establish your jiu jitsu game. So at purple belt you’re starting to think alright, I’m going to go for this Americana because i know he’s gonna reach across. And when he reaches across, I’m gonna get him for the armbar. I think you need to set up a chain of moves. Not just go for one submission”
“How important would you say the physical strength of the fighter is when attempting to put someone of the same weight class in a submission? Should strength matter if the technique is done correctly?”
Jim Alers: “You know when JiuJitsu first came out, nobody knew jiujitsu. So somebody who’s 160 who knows jiujitsu against someone who’s 160 but doesn’t know jiujitsu, strength does not matter at all. He could purely do technique and you’re going to submit the guy. But now it seems like everybody knows jiujitsu. We have so many jiujitsu practitioners out there that you need to get some strength, workout and focus on your health and conditioning. So that you have the upper hand because now if you’re a purple belt with great technique and the other guy is a purple belt with great technique you know it’s gonna be hard to pull off. So having strength and good conditioning does give you the upper hand so I’d say it’s pretty important nowadays.”
So what have we learned about submissions from speaking with Jim Alers?
- Go for the rear naked choke. As we have learned you need position before submission. And what better position is there than the rear naked choke? You have them on their back, almost completely trapped and defenseless. Once it’s locked in and tight, they are either tapping or napping.
- Position before submission. If in your rolls you are having trouble finishing your submissions and your opponent always escapes, look at where your position is first. You need to remember, position before submission. Take your time and insure that you have a dominant position over your opponent before you attempt to submit them. Otherwise, they will escape and most likely end up leaving you in a worse position than where you started.
- Having trouble getting someone in a submission? This comes with experience. You need to work on your timing and practice. You won’t start submitting people immediately after learning how, you need practice. Find a guy with an experience level you can comfortably practice your moves on and get more experience. Let the moves become second nature to you.
- Are you too predictable? Constantly being countered? Try thinking ahead more. BJJ is very strategic, it’s like a game of chess. Each opponent trying to think further ahead and outsmart the other. Set up a chain of moves, instead of thinking “he’s doing this so I’ll do that” try changing your thought process during rolls to “I will do X so he will do Y so I can do Z.”
- How important is strength in BJJ? This depends on who you’re fighting. If you both are the same skill level, of course the stronger will win. So strength is most certainly a factor in BJJ. But If you are both are in the same weight class and strength, of course the more technical will win. Technique trumps strength. But within reason, meaning as long as it’s not a 6’6 350 lb dude against a 5’0 115lb dude. The more technical and experienced fighter will always beat the inexperienced.
Common mistakes going for submissions?
- Attempting a submission too early. Be patient and setup position before going for the submission.
- Trying to muscle your way through submissions Instead of properly learning the techniques. Strength will not beat technique. You will only exhaust yourself.
- Being too predictable. Don’t just react to what your opponent is doing. Think ahead and cause him to react how you want him to.
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