I’m sure I could come up with all sorts of advice to give myself, but probably the most critical piece of advice I would give to myself if I could go back in time is:
Put a strong emphasis on taking the back and finishing from the back.
Why? It’s because the back is simply the best position you can take from your opponent.
Your opponent could still escape if you didn’t control them correctly, but you are way ahead of the game because typically, your opponent cannot attack you. They will have to focus on escaping from your back control and submission attempts, whereas you can keep threatening them with RNC, armbar, and rear triangle as well as all sorts of collar chokes if it’s a gi situation.
Another great thing about the back position is that your opponent’s weight matters less than when you are trying to submit them from the guard position once you get there.
Triangle choke is my strongest submission. I can definitely handle most people with my spider guard. And I can usually set up triangle against a heavier opponent, too… but even when I do things correctly and precisely, when there’s a 20-30kg difference, for example, it just becomes challenging to finish a bigger opponent with triangle from the guard.
But if I’m on their back? I don’t have to worry about their weight so much, and I can focus on submissions from there.
If you are an open guard player and generally prefer to make submission attempts from the guard, I understand where you’re coming from. But for the sake of your future progress, if your back attacks aren’t part of your A-game, start working on them as early as possible.
The good thing is that you can set the back position as your terminal point and work on getting there from all sorts of situations.
Don’t skip the back position!