BJJ Mantra: Control the Head; Control the Body

BJJ Mantra: Control the Head; Control the Body

In this weeks BJJ Mantra column we will cover the phrase "Control the Head; Control the Body," which has been drilled into my head after my coaches have said it numerous times over the past three years. While this mantra does not apply to every situation like Position Over Submission it has been an effective tool in nearly every competition, sparring, or practice I have been to.

The idea is simple and straight forward, because if you control your opponent’s head you can control their body. This mantra falls into two important aspects of the BJJ game which are half-guard and side-control. In half-guard, controlling the head becomes of major importance when trying to pass the half-guard successfully without having your opponent take your back, put you back into full guard, or sweep you. A lot of your opponent’s power comes when they are able to get their side by hipping out, but if you control their head by putting your arm underneath it and driving into their jaw with your shoulder you will stop that movement. It makes it harder for them to move when they have constant pressure on their face, because they will want to relieve that pressure before doing anything else.

This notion becomes even more important when you are in side-control. You have put all your effort into breaking the guard, moving to half-guard, and finally putting yourself in an advantageous position to dominate by making it to side-control, only to have yourself swept over or put back in guard because you do not control the head. With the same simple technique of putting your arm closest to your opponent’s head underneath of it and applying pressure with your shoulder this will stymie most of your opponent’s movement. It is like adding another lock to the chain that is your BJJ game, because your opponent has another layer to try to break through to even get a chance do anything to you.

There are different variations to the technique I talked about to control the head which can involve anything from using the lapels of your opponent or putting your elbow onto their ear. I just went over the simplest form, because when on the bottom your main objective is to create space which is something you will learn about in next week’s column. So, stay tuned to the BJJ Mantra’s column to learn all four of the unique ideals I use to enhance my BJJ game every time I hit the mats.

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