There’s a mistake I made repeatedly until about I became a brown belt. I often see over and over people make this same mistake.
The mistake I’m talking about is sitting down and insisting on playing the bottom position even after you end up being on top.
So, the assumption here is that your opponent is already playing the bottom position. Perhaps they pulled the guard first. Perhaps you swept them earlier. How you got to this situation doesn’t matter.
You find yourself on top, and you choose to give it up because you don’t want to attack from the top and perhaps feel more secure lying on your back.
I’m more inclined toward playing the guard. So I know that feeling. And that’s precisely why I kept making this mistake. Because I felt safer and more comfortable playing my familiar game.
To be clear, I’m not talking about situations where you pull the guard and get to play the bottom position according to most major rulesets.
Here’s the thing — with most competitions with points, if you sit down from the top position and your opponent stands up, your opponent will get points for a reversal — boom, free points for your opponent.
Now, there may be situations where it might make sense for you to do that tactically speaking. Perhaps you’ve racked up points, there’s one minute left, you have no worries about giving a couple of points away for free, and you know you could keep yourself safe by playing the bottom position. If you want to intentionally use a tactic like this, power to you. There’s no shame in that.
Likewise, if we are talking about submission-only matches, do whatever you need to do. Sitting down like that might give you better submission opportunities after all.
But in many cases, I bet people who mindlessly sit down in search of a safe, comfortable position, especially in sparring, don’t even realize they could give away free points to their opponent in a competition setting. If that’s you, make sure to keep that in mind and try not to turn it into a habit. Because the last thing you want is to lose a match by reversal points you voluntarily give away to your opponent because of a lousy training habit.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should practice in such a way that you can improve your weaknesses. So, if you are not comfortable playing the top position, do that in your sparring sessions. It takes time to become better at passing the guard and attacking from the top position. It’s better to start now than avoid it till later.
I’m speaking from my own experience here — I hardly worked on guard passing much until I got my brown belt, as mentioned above. I spent too much time doing what was comfortable and familiar. I wasted my precious training hours throughout the years because of this mistake. I don’t want you to repeat the same mistake I made so you can improve your BJJ skills more quickly and efficiently than I did.
If this mistake sounds familiar to you and you are indeed inclined to sit down even when you are on top, choose to stay on top and learn how to be more comfortable on your feet. In the long run, your overall game will improve much more that way.
p.s. The notion of sticking with what’s comfortable and familiar applies not just to this particular situation, but also to every other situation. Break away from your comfort zone and work on what’s uncomfortable. That’s how you become better in BJJ and anything else.