Grappling Fundamentals For MMA

Grappling Fundamentals for MMA

An If-This-Then-That style approach to grappling.

I never want to be stuck in a position thinking “I’ve absolutely no idea what I’m doing” (which happens a lot)

It’s always best to learn basic positions and escapes before elaborate submissions, in my opinion.


1. Frame on your own headed go for bicep ctrl on bottom, side control. (This helps prevent a choke)

2. Stand up when doing the reach around sprawl counter (makes it harder to flip or pancake you)

3. Lock guillotine in before falling back. Might need to scoot bum back a bit


Keep elbows tucked and hands ‘inside’ when establishing position to avoid kimuras & triangles.

Keep one knee up to avoid closed guard (Combat Base)

Keep Chin Tucked when on knees (look to the side/backwards) & keep an arm in the way

When flipped or bridged – use momentum & bridge & roll opponent in the same direction

This momentum-stealing also works if someone flips your legs over to pass guard or pushes them to the side or with a wrestler’s pancake

You generally want to frame on one arm and stop the underhook on the other

Framing in Scrambles

Don’t always go for a wizzer, sometimes you need to frame with forearm against opponent’s head to make space

Grip Fighting



High knee – avoid grape vines & break top guys posture with bump & a high knee

Hip Hop escape into bridge —> Bridge into an additional second Bridge in the same direction —> Hip Escape on the opposite hip

  • something to try – if you bridge and guy is kind of dangling to your side but still has mount, try and bridge again but go all the way over and give your back – then forward roll immediately or pop up into a tripod/down dog position.

Last Ditch Mount Escape:

Bottom Side Control

Establish a forearm under his chin if possible —> Bridge into him and pull guard or move to knees

Use momentum to try the ‘wheelbarrow’ escape:

If bridge doesn’t work, push his head down towards your feet and scoot your body upwards

Push on his armpit and use a straight arm to push and get up to knees (Tuck chin to avoid guillotine)

If that doesn’t work, try and bring your feet round to the side and push/bridge into him again:

Bottom Modified Scarf Hold

Escapes are similar to side control.

Bump & bridge into him —> underhook (for no gi)

Also try the weird judo escape of gripping hand that is trapped

Also framing and bridging – but set up with a powerful bridge into him for space to shrimp

You need a different escape for when he is High on you, and one for one he’s low


High on your Chest:

establish your frame:

scarf hold escape.gif

Stay Flat on your back and try a head triangle


Bridge & get an underhook also tends to work in no-gi

Low on your hips:


Frame with your elbow on his face, not your wrist

I also like to frame with my palms my head to begin with, to prevent any chokes sneaking int


Bottom Scarf Hold

Grab around his bottom rib

Scoot feet and hips around as if you’re trying to bum your opponent

Bridge straight up and backwards

Then bridge and roll opponent over

Bottom Knee on Belly


Bottom Butterfly Guard (on bum)

Posture – Get head underneath his and frame across throat

Drive in and then head snap into anaconda

Bottom Guard

Posture in guard:

Establish head & arm control

Lift hips up and drive feet down

Sweep from Guard:

Chest 2 chest sweep/Hip Bump

Stand up Technique from Guard with headsnap/snap down


Remember – scoot your butt a few inches back, away from your opponent to make room for a guillotine chokeI al to

I also find it much easier to lock in the choke, BEFORE falling back int

Opponent may well grab your foot or gi pants when trying to stand up –

either pull arm off and kick leg back into guard, turn away and roll, or kimura grip his arm or even attempt a weird scissor sweep by dropping on hip of the leg that is caught

If you are stuck on the bottom with a guillotine choke, see the transitions in this video:

Bottom Half Guard

Avoid an underhook and a ‘head-squish’ by keeping your arms in.

Try and block the cross face by posting on his bicep:




Bottom – Back Mounted

Tuck chin and look to the side

Drive upwards & bridge and scoot upwards

Try and get 2 on 1 control and loop over your head

Body Triangle Counter


Bottom – Sprawl/failed double leg

Headlock or Double Underhooks

*Always Keep chin Tucked onto your Chest*

Reach around technique to counter headlock or double unders


*Don’t get pancaked/flipped with an underhook.

Drop to left shoulder and hip if opponent is lifting you up with an underhook on your left armpit*

If you do get flipped over – go with the momentum and flip again.


Drive to capture a leg or Sit through/Knee slide if you can’t get to the legs


Knee slide:


Here he moves his right knee up to get a better grip/base

Gif Source

If your far grip is on the inside of the legs, rotate towards that hand/grip. Keep pulling with other grip.

If you

  • get stuck underneath
  • Opponent is circling at pace to take your back


or Drive in and push yourself back &up to standing if all else fails


Top Mount

Establish grapevines, underhook head, base out with other arm

Gain a high mount after 10 secs or so of grape vines

look for head & arm choke or Americana

Top Side Control

Cross face an opponent with elbow/forearm or ideally, shoulder.

Move into modified scarf hold

Trap arm in between legs


Top Scarf Hold


Top Knee on Belly

Top in Guard

Stack opponent – this confuses most BJJ Players

Try this minging guard pass:


Dean Lister Pass

Standing Guard Pass

Open Guard Pass:

Top inside someone’s Butterfly Guard

look for a snap down

Counter elevation – cross legs!

Submission Defence

Kimura Defence

Push on his hip with free hand

Straight trapped arm and bring it close to your body

kimura defence.gif

Posture up (like a deadlift)

Counter with a Police-man style shoulder lock:



Guillotine Defence

Guillotine in Guard

Stack defence

Standing Guillotine

Reach over

Standing sit through

Front Naked Choke Defence

High Percentage Submissions


Front Naked Choke



Head & Arm Chokes

Submissions from Scarf Hold

Stand Up Grappling

single leg

Easy Takedown 1

Grip Fighting


Single Leg Defence

single leg counter

Takedowns from Wrist Control


Counter Wrist Control


From Over/Under go to Uchi Mata


Double Unders Counter


Thai Clinch

Use your back muscles, not your biceps to pull the opponents head down

Instead of cupping 2 hands on back of the guys head, grab your left wrist with your right hand to reinforce the grip.

Options when Wrestling:

  • Go for greco over/under pummel and take an Uchi Mata into headlock takedown
  • Bate for wrist control – break the grip – use a 2 on 1 to snap down into a headlock
  • Wrist Control – Arm drag
  • Wrestling clinch – into grip switch takedown – headlock (or single leg)
  • Wrestling Clinchsnapdown – headlock – ankle pick
  • Attack 1 leg, when opponent steps back, ankle pick the other

Another good takedown,

Dummy an attack to the front leg, when he steps back, snap him down jnto a headlock

Solo Wrestling Drills:

  • Lateral Drop
  • Uchi Mata
  • Osota Gari – remember to get an angle and wrist/gi control
  • Arm Drag
  • Grip Switch
  • Grip breaks/counters


Workout 1

Alpine Ski Machine – 1000m

Band Squat & Press x 20

Band High Pulls x 10

Bike Tabata

Band Curls x max


Workout 2

Rowing Machine x 1000m

Band Push Press x 10

Alpine Ski x 1000m

Band Shoulder press x max

Lateral raises x max

Bridge Press x max



Morning Stretches:

  • World’s Greatest Stretch
  • Piriformis Stretch 1
  • Piriformis Stretch 2
  • QL Stretch

Day Time Stretches

  • Hip Flexor
  • Neck
  • Chest

Evening Stretches

  • Sufi Grinds
  • Kettlebell Halos
  • Lying – Hip Flexor Stretch

Notes on Striking

  • Use the layback & cross to counter a jab:
Thiago Silva Using a Lay Back in ACB
  • Jab & Russian right hook

About Drew

MMA, Fitness & Marketing enthusiast from North Wales, UK. A Stoic Hippy with no hair. Not to boast but - 1st Class Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough, MSc in Nutrition from the University of Liverpool. 20 years experience of weight & fitness training.
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