From as long as I can remember in my BJJ training I’ve heard people saying that combinations is how you set up submissions. You go from the lapel choke to an arm bar to a triangle back to an arm bar. Mentally, I understood what people were saying. But my skill set was one that focused on one thing. For example, if I was going for an arm bar from guard, I’d focus solely on trying to attach my opponent’s arm. Of course, they’d realize what I was doing and focus on defending that arm. So it would become a battle of who could get the arm and who couldn’t. Sometimes that would involve strength. It became very difficult to arm bar anyone.
However, in the past few weeks something has started clicking in my brain and I’ve been able to go more for combinations. For example, this past week I was rolling with someone who had my back. I escaped and we had a scramble. I was partially on his back and partially on his side. I was working for a choke. I noticed as I was working for it, he was defending it by moving his arm into a bad position. So I went for the choke again, and as he defended again, I was able to attach to his arm, throw my leg over and arm bar him.
Rolling this way has, in some ways, made things easier. Rather than burning my arms out trying to force a choke, I’m able to use a choke to set up something else. As I think about it now, I need to try and work on this in other areas as well. For example, passing guard, or getting to mount. Move in one direction, and once my opponent responds, move a different direction. Instead of going straight ahead all the time, changing directions.