The Best BJJ Submissions For MMA

While MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) are commonly mistaken for each other in public circles, those of us in the know are well aware that BJJ is quite separate and distinct from the sport of MMA. However, you’d have to be living under a rock to not acknowledge that the most successful submission fighters in MMA all make generous use of BJJ techniques.

It’s long been known that BJJ is the world’s best submission-based fighting style and martial art. And with so many different submissions to choose from, in this art alone, you could spend years learning many techniques to only find that some are suitable and appropriate for MMA. So given we have many MMA fighters amongst our fan base and readership, this made us think that it was high time to put together a list of the best BJJ submission techniques used in MMA today.

So we sourced some useful information from Suite 101 to list out the the best BJJ submissions for MMA. Sure we see the occasional Gogoplata, standing inverted triangle (such as this awesome one… Standing Inverted Triangle) or even a Twister, but truly, 90% of all MMA submissions can be found on the list below.

The Best BJJ Submissions For MMA

The Best BJJ Submissions For MMA

The Best BJJ Submissions For MMA

Why Learn Submission Holds for MMA?

Submission techniques enable an MMA grappler to subdue their opponent in a controlled way, expending less energy than they would throwing a vicious barrage of strikes and risking none of the potential bone-shattering and brain-jarring consequences. And ending a fight with a submission hold just gives an impression of control, skill, and dominance that one could almost call elegant; much more so than catching an opponent with a wild haymaker.

Most Submission Wins Come From a Small Number of Techniques

The world of submission techniques can be a complex, confusing, and intimidating place. “Judo” Gene LeBell’s incredible Encyclopedia of Finishing Holds boasts a frightening collection of over 950 submission holds. Martial arts legend Eric Paulsen, who had to learn almost 200 submission techniques to earn his Shooter’s Certificate from Yorinaga Nakamura, has been known to say, “the body is a submission waiting to happen”. But despite the daunting number of submissions that are theoretically available in MMA grappling, the number of high-percentage submission techniques is actually pretty small.

Which Submission Holds are the Best to Learn?

Even if an MMA fighter were to memorize all of the techniques in Royler Gracie’s Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Submission Grappling, 90% of their MMA submission wins would probably still be by:

  • Rear Naked Choke
  • Guillotine Choke
  • Kimura Shoulder Lock
  • Straight Armbar
  • Triangle Choke
  • Knee Bar
  • Heel Hook

Basic Submission Techniques are the Best

The reason that the eight submission holds listed above are so effective is that they can be set up from a variety of commonly occurring positions and don’t require any overly complicated motions or extraordinary flexibility on the part of the fighter. Whether it’s MMA grappling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, or submission grappling, simple and straightforward is usually the best path to follow.

The Best MMA Submission Fighters Master the Set-up

Set-ups are the key to the game of MMA grappling and submission holds. Just knowing how to perform a submission technique isn’t enough. Boxing provides a perfect analogy. Every boxer knows the six punches: jab, cross, left and right hook, and left and right uppercut. So what’s the difference between the 16-year-old gym rat and Manny Pacquiao? Manny is a wizard at using feints, angling, and footwork to set up his punches. Similarly, all MMA fighters know the basic armbar, but very few are as adept at them as the top level MMA fighters that hail from a BJJ background (e.g. Shinya Aoki, Rounda Rousey, Roger Gracie, Demian Maia and the list goes on).

Source: Suite 101

The old 80/20 rule applies when it comes to submitting your opponents. While you may get lucky, once in a blue moon, and catch your opponent in a flying arm bar or some other fancy move, you are more likely to get the majority of your victories from the solid list of submission holds listed above.

It really does pay to drill the basics, because they are your bread and butter techniques for getting more wins on the mat, in the ring or even in the cage. No matter how cool the fancy techniques look, even they are built upon the more basic movements, so you can’t ignore the submissions listed above when you train; regardless of your experience level.

Do you agree that these are the foundational BJJ submission holds that all MMA fighters should know? If you have more to add to the list, leave us your thoughts below.

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