Drilling Micro Transitions to Submissions

I’ve written a bunch about drilling lately, especially inspired by Jordon Shultz and his recent ebook dedicated exclusively to the subject of drilling. Lloyd Irvin released a nice video on the “micro transitional drilling” yesterday and I can’t pass up the chance to comment on it, even though a few great blog posts have already been written on it:

Analogy: Calories In, Calories Out

For diet that maintains weight, the simple formula is “calories in = calories out”. There’s more to a good diet than that, but the math can’t be tricked. In the same way, for developing good competition jiu jitsu, the simple equation is: you have drill the transition to submission more than your opponent drills the defense to that transition. There’s more to it than that, but once again, you can’t trick the math.


In the video, Lloyd Irvin emphasizes the importance of working on the small but critical transition that leads directly or indirectly into a submission. This is different than the way I’ve been drilling. When I work on transitions, I’ll often chain several together. That’s very important to do but it definitely doesn’t sharpen my instinct as much as the micro-transition drilling. I tried it today for several microtransitions into submissions: ezekiel choke, americana, and the teacup armbar.

More Reps, Less Brain

I really liked the result. I didn’t count exactly, but I was able to get over 100 reps in each 5 minute round of drilling without pushing the pace at all. What I also like was that I started to really focus and internalize the flow of the technique. Obviously 100 reps is nothing, but I could sense that 10,000 reps of each technique would make the transitions into these submissions very difficult to stop.

Hard Work is Hard

The above video from Lloyd Irvin doesn’t particularly tell you anything you didn’t already know. He simply reiterates the truth of what breeds success: deliberate practice. Just as he says in the video, whatever good prescriptive advice he provides, most people will take it in, agree with it, enjoy it, plan on doing it, and never actually do it (more than a few times). The challenge is to do it regularly for months and years. It has to be part of your jiu jitsu training.

0 thoughts on “Drilling Micro Transitions to Submissions

  1. James

    I am feeling particulary dense about this whole microtransitions thing, although very interested in the concept. I assume you were drilling the ezekiel choke as per the video? what were you doing for the americana, and the teacup armbar? I think I just need to see/have explained more examples too me 🙂

    1. Lex Post author

      You can break down most techniques into like 5-10 steps, and then drill just any of those steps in pairs back and forth. It’s often a tiny movement and seem kind of silly at first, but that’s how you make these techniques smooth. Good luck.


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