Predator, Not the Prey: Victory Secrets to BJJ!

If you’ve read “The Seedy, Salacious Truth About BJJ”, then you’ve gotten a behind-the-curtain glimpse at the reality that is the life-or-death struggle for Honor and Shame on the mats! 

But you may be wondering…just exactly what are the mechanics behind what those crazy grapplers are doing on the mats anyway?

What exactly is it that allows them to Win or Lose, to gain Honor or Shame…

To be the Hunter or the Hunted? 

To be the Predator or the Prey?  

Well you’re in luck…because that’s exactly what this post is about!


Here’s one question that everybody needs answered before they step on the mats: 

What is the Goal of Grappling? 

The answer is simpler than you think. 

The Goal of Grappling is to control the Hips or Shoulders to achieve a submission from a joint in the Arm or Leg

This is because the Hips and Shoulders are the Clausewitzian Centers of Gravity of control in the body. Without them, there is no movement in the arms or legs. 

The theoretical meaning of the BJJ Commandment “Position Before Submission” means to achieve this control of the Hips or Shoulders before going after the submission. 

As we have outlined before, however, BJJ defines this phrase as meaning Guard. 

Which begs the question: just what is the Goal of Guard anyway? 


The Goal of Guard is to control the bad guy’s hips from the bottom to prevent him from getting into Mount and/or Side Control to control your Hips and/or Shoulders. 

You do this by wrapping your legs around his waist from the bottom, thereby neutralizing his hips. You control his hips by wrapping your legs around his waist. By neutralizing his hips, you are preventing the Bad Guy from getting into Mount and/or Side Control. 

If the bad guy gets in Mount, he controls your Hips and then your Shoulders. But unlike Guard, which controls your Hips from the Bottom, Mount controls your Hips and then your Shoulders from the Top. 

If the bad guy gets in Side Control, he bypasses your hips to go straight to controlling your shoulders. But again unlike Guard, which controls your Hips from the Bottom, Mount controls your Shoulders from the Top. 

The horror of having this happen to you has been described by me before. The reality is, you don’t want to be here. 

Consequently in theory, the Guard position prevents this, and allows you to start going for submissions at his arms…in my experience, instructor favorites submissions from Guard are: 

  • The Arm Bar: submission that breaks at the elbow
  • The Triangle, a choke involving the neck and one shoulder. 

The Guard doctrine favors those with long legs. Modifications are made for short legged people with the Half-Guard.

Half Guard controls the bad guy’s hips by wrapping your legs around one of his legs, thereby preventing him from using his hips to get up on top of you in Mount or Side Control. 

The Goal of Half Guard is to prevent your opponent from getting into Mount or Side Control  by controlling his hip mobility at one leg. Then according to this doctrine, your goal is to go in and work those Arm Bars and Triangles. 


Whether working from the Bottom or the Top, the Goal of Controlling the Hips and Shoulders.

Control of the Hips and Shoulders is achieved in these positions outlined above by what the Gracies call “The Isolation Principle”. 

“The Isolation Principle” is one of 32 Principles that make Grappling work that have been outlined by the Gracie Family, those arch-patron saints of BJJ. 

Essentially, the 32 Principles are to Grappling what Clausewitz’s On War is to Warfare. 

The Gracies explain that “The isolation principle is about focusing on an individual body part of your opponent while attacking or removing that body part from the fight.”

This is achieved by “The Overload Principle”, which states that “By dedicating a lot of your own resources to a targeted part of your opponent’s body, you can overload them.” 

That is exactly what you do with Guard, Half Guard, Mount, and Side Control. Whether from Top or Bottom, you dedicate your entire body to control one critical component of their body: the Hips and/or Shoulders.

This is the true meaning of “Position Before Submission”…not just the parochial reductionist view often preached by the fanatic adherents of BJJ. 


In order to achieve this control however, whether from Top or Bottom, you have to have a certain level of Strength and Endurance. You just can’t pull these “positions before submissions” off if you don’t have these qualities 

And just exactly how you can achieve these qualities is the subject that we will turn to in a future post!

Until then, it is my greatest hope that you take this hard-won knowledge and use it to your gain on the mats. 

So next time you roll, you can use these Revealed Victory Secrets to turn the tables on the guys that have been hoarding this information from you!

And then you can be the Hunter not the Hunted…

The Predator and not the Prey! 

Pulp Fiction Power to you, my friends!


Richard Barrett


Written at 4:44 PM in an Applebee’s somewhere in the USA…

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