I've been doing catch wrestling for a year now and I've seen good improvement in my technique, but I find that I'm too passive when I roll and need to attack more. When I roll, I'm usually trying to get closed-guard or half-guard to capitalise on my partners' mistakes but my partners hardly make mistakes, so I'm usually stuck in side-control or mount. My coach and partners always praise me for my defence, but they tell me I need to attack more, as I'm just too passive.

I've been doing Taekwon-Do for 5 years and for the first two years, I was also very passive. I had a good defence, but I hardly used to attack; now my attack is great and I'm usually up on points.

I don't want to have to wait two years for me to start attacking more in catch wrestling. Any advice on how I can stop being passive and go for submissions?

5 Answers 5


What works for me is to never stop moving. In this training mindset I'm not allowed to think, or to feint, or to control their movement, or to catch my breath. I attack. If I notice myself pausing, I must immediately attack. There is no secret. I must advance position. I must attempt a submission. Repeat.

If I am in an inferior position I must reverse it or establish guard. If I'm in guard I must sweep or submit--right now. If I'm on top I must pass immediately, without waiting for the perfect time or position or pressure. If I'm in a dominant position I must go for a submission, even if it means losing position, because that just means I can start the whole nonstop process over again.

This works best on partners who aren't as good, as a way to get something out of the roll. Against equal or better partners it often becomes reckless.


What is your objective in BJJ?

This is the first point. I training light a warrior try protect my family from the bad guys. I never give up from a position to be submitted and start again. To me BJJ is a question of stay alive or die.

Nowadays when you watch a BJJ competition we see a lot of position to stolen. We can see some positions with a really small change of submission. Nowadays some position have a bad reputation because the fighters use to hold the game and be able to win in points or advantages.

Ex: 50/50

I training hard, my strategy is go a head all the time. I try be one or two steps ahead of my opponent. (some times is not possible but I try).

Ex: If my opponent pull me to the guard I start my pass before he be able to start to think about his game. This attitude give me better change to pass the guard. If I wait for my opponent start to prepare the attack or a swipe I will have to break the grips before to start my pass.

I like the BJJ style of now called old style. Go a head, put presser on the opponent, pass or swipe and finalize quick as possible. Have a look in fights of Zé Mario, Murilo Bustamant, Valid, Fabio Gurgel, Sérgio Canudo, Marcelo Garcia. These guys fight like a Steamroller.

During the ages 80/90 and early of 2000 the BJJ was a little different. The fight was much more a fight. Nowadays some fights are too much focused to be in the rules to win. Personally I don't like. This is not the essence of this Martial Art.

But there are some thing wrong to be passive? No. It is completely fine. But What are you doing if your opponent have the same attitude them you? Both waiting for a opportunity to do something. I really recommend. Open you game. Go a head and push your self. If you tap you learn. It isn't a shame tap. This will prepare you to a competition/fight.

  • This reads as if BJJ took the same way as Judo, becoming more of a sport than a martial art for most competitives. The fights become highly tactical, and are in this sense interesting, but they are not fights anymore. May 18, 2016 at 7:38
  • Talking with friend of other martial arts, they complain about the same problem. On friend of my was disqualified from a Karate competition to be too aggressive. I can't understand it, if you are using the allowed movements.
    – AFetter
    May 18, 2016 at 22:59

Ask your coach and partners for advice on how you can be less passive. If you can, watch some bouts between more aggressive opponents to see what they do.

You mentioned that you were initially quite passive in Taekwondo; do you know what you changed to overcome that? Was it simply experience and time, or did you identify some technique or personal obstruction that made you passive?

From personal experience, I know that sparring as a junior grade against a higher grade can be very intimidating; in this situation, I often find myself holding back, even after 15 years of training!.

A point to consider (which is relevant to me as well, so thank you for helping me identify it!): maybe it is a mindset thing? Perhaps, like me, you're looking at sparring in class as a win/lose situation, rather than a learning opportunity? Rather than thinking "How do I win this bout?", we should both be thinking "What will I learn from this bout?".


Some people have too high of a tolerance for meanness.

You're pretty green and this is a pretty serious problem that in my opinion makes or breaks a 'career' as a wrestler. Young guys all come in with this problem and the sooner and the deeper you can shake it the better. @AFetter kind of alluded to this principle

This is the first point. I training light a warrior try protect my family from the bad guys. I never give up from a position to be submitted and start again. To me BJJ is a question of stay alive or die.

Functioning in civil society today means learning self restraint without a counter balancing principle and because of the intensity of wrestling it's very important that you learn to control your own self restraint because you are over restrained. I'm not saying forget restraint I'm saying learn counter restraint or how to un-restrain what is important.

I doubt that it's a mindset thing because you've trained TKD for 5 years you probably understand attack mentality you're just used to being nice to people. But if you don't have attack mentality that's a problem you need to focus on drilling with attack mentality. Again like @AFetter said: steamroller.

Overcoming learned self restraint on a deep level needs to be practiced by wrestling with people in a mean way, you can do this by wrestling people you don't like, people who are weak or bad or stupid or scared that you have contempt for and you have to cultivate those "negative" feelings. By negative I don't mean bad, feelings are not inherently bad, but society is afraid of young men's anger and with the disappearance of strong traditional values of order, discipline and hierarchy, society has turned to other methods to restrain the fiery energy of young men like brainwashing and shame. You need to be smart about this because sometimes you have too much anger and you wrestle like a jackass.

You also need to have some confidence in your wrestling. Once you overcome a little bit of your own restraint and become more active, you will be shooting and scrapping more, which confronts you with a deeper level of restraint you may have developed about being rough with other people. Then you build strength or you learn how to use strength in ways you didn't know before and you stop restraining when it comes to hurting people. So your emotions about wrestling will develop with your technique and your skills.

So our summary is

  1. Be meaner
  2. Get better
  3. Repeat

Do see what I mean? This is how style evolves and refines, confronting new challenges in opponents and in yourself.


Unfortunately I think the answer requires time. Catch is all about execution of attacks from any position. For example caught in a guard? Don't pass but get a leglock. In half guard? Go for the neck or figure 4. It's the opposite of position over submission.

So this means learning to attack from many positions and trying to do it naturally. This requires a lot technique practise which means drilling hundreds of moves. But each move then needs to be memorised, applied naturally while under pressure of a moving opponent. This takes a few years to get (my coach uses a 3 year rule).

Having great defense is a great way to start. Then it's down to just trying to remember the attacks and apply by repeating.

In the end I think it all boils down to matt time.

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