Well, if you’ve wrestled you’ve probably got a decent takedown game, but in my circles guard pulling as a go-to is frowned upon and actively shamed. Again, I’m working a curriculum that’s geared towards violence, not sport, so stand-up phase is a training opportunity to put people on the ground, defend against the same and hit the ground in the best possible position no matter if you’re on top or bottom.
Of course, many high-level guys are notorious guard-pullers and butt-scooters, and do it to good effect. That’s not the house I’m trying to build though.
With newer guys, yes, I get that sense of owning them from my back. That said, my training priorities have me viewing the guard as an emergency position. I don’t hunt submissions from there. I want to work on that eventually, but for now I’m looking to keep their posture broken, set up either a scissor or hip-bump sweep to get on top, or get back to my feet with a technical stand-up. I’ve taken the occasional armbar and kimura, but only when it is served up to me on a platter.
But no doubt about it, the guard is a helluva position when you’ve got someone who plays it well. It’s such a deep rabbit hole to go down, and my instructor can give me all kinds of fits from his back that make me feel like a clumsy and weak child. I’ve passed his guard exactly one time. Once. That’s it.
For now, this is the basic pathway I try to take in a roll. Get to side control. Take the mount by lacing their legs with my arm and stepping over, or beating their inside frame and climbing up high in side control with lots of face pressure. Easier to step over to low mount without getting caught in guard or half guard when you’re up high or have their legs laced with your arm. From there, I look to beat their frames with pressure or submission threats, then climb to technical mount. Simple armbar if it’s open (the one that keeps me in technical mount, not the one that has you falling on your back). Kimura grip for control. Face pressure (or strikes to the face, if we aren’t being gentle) to force the turn-over. Flatten them out and RNC.
Lots of other stuff can happen and sometimes I settle for an Americana, an Ezekiel, an arm triangle, armbars, cross collar or lap drop chokes and even side control submissions, but the house I want to build is maintaining a controlling position at all times and smashing the everloving bejeezus out of people with pressure until I can take the back while staying on top to choke them out. All techniques that work in gi and no-gi, always trying to be in positions where I can stand back up quickly if I need to.
The house still needs a lot of work.
Not everyone likes it when I do that though, so I’ve got the drunk uncle treatment that’s still a fun and productive game to play without much pressure. I tend to just kind of go with the flow when I put pressure on the back burner, aka “flow roll”. Give-and-take exchange of techniques without full resistance until something juicy opens up, don’t fight too hard if someone catches me in a technically sound submission.
My pressure game is all about taking what I want, which is ultimately the back. It’s not fun when my instructor goes down that path with me, I can only imagine how miserable it would be if he put 100 more pounds on his frame. I suppose I’m like rolling with Homer Simpson on that episode when he decided to lift weights and eat Powersauce bars.
A really big revelation for me was when I stopped looking at rolls as a contest to win and started approaching it as a training opportunity with specific objectives in mind. Sometimes I still put that aside and play to win no matter what, but that’s usually with new and really aggressive guys, who I haven’t trained with much lately.