I had a conversation with internet’s grappling guru Josh Vogel about submission-only tournaments. He showed me the following video from Gracie Worlds of Ryron Gracie giving up position without much care, almost seemingly experimenting as you would during a roll back at the academy:
Josh made the observation that the point-centric sport jiu jitsu is so ingrained in competitors’ minds that they often expand an enormous amount of energy to improve position assuming that the submission will be much easier in a dominant position. But this is not necessarily the case. Josh’s style reminds me of Roger and Kron Gracie, who are known for simple fundamental jiu jitsu but most importantly are escape artists, meaning they are very good at escaping “bad” positions. They fall behind on points regularly in competition and come back in dominant fashion as the match progresses to get the submission.
There is something to the idea of “pulling mount”. As a stand-alone strategy it’s certainly not optimal, but as an approach to training jiu jitsu it could have some value in the long term. In my mind, this approach can help develop two skills: (1) escapes and (2) the ability to fully relax while defending submissions.
One of the other competitors I like watching (and try to emulate) is DJ Jackson, who is known for his relentless top game. Somehow I have trouble imagining him ever “pulling mount”.
It’s an interesting open question to me whether a super relaxed escape artist can do well against someone with relentless top pressure in a submission-only setting. I hope that the recent growth in popularity of submission-only tournaments will help answer that question.