Do All Your BJJ Submissions End With a Paintbrush?

April 21, 2011

A few nights ago, I was teaching a Beginner BJJ Class and taught a sweep from the mount that ended up with a “paintbrush” (or key lock) submission.

After I completed the technique, one of the students asked if all my submissions ended with the “paintbrush” technique.

At first, I just laughed under my breath because I knew the student wasn’t being a smart-A. He was just thinking out loud because he’s a regular at my classes and realizes that many of my finishing techniques from the top usually result in some kind of “paintbrush” lock.

I told him that it’s not that all roads lead to the paintbrush, but more about the simple fact that once most grapplers get swept to laying on their backs, their arms are usually in the “hold up” position (hands above their shoulders) for the “paintbrush” hold. You just have to know what “mat picture” you’re looking for to apply the right submission and in my case, it just so happens to be the “paintbrush” finish.

Then I turned the question on him and asked what he thought I should do in this situation; go for a “boring” paintbrush or try to force another technique once my partner adjusts into the defensive mount position?

And just as I expected, he suggested that I go for something that was reasonable for that position, but required more energy from me to do because the position didn’t occur naturally during the transition.

That WAS the point I wanted the young gun to see.

Fortunately, there were a few techniques that I could’ve done from the mount after sweeping him. Unfortunately, they would’ve required more effort and energy from me to capitalize on the technique.

Wasted effort and energy don’t mean as much to a young gun, but to an OG, it’s one of the building blocks of our “training smarter, not harder” mantra.

And after I explained it that way, he got the point and started drilling the technique.

What’s the moral of the story? There isn’t one, just go for the simple technique that’s right in front of you than the one that makes the crowd go “ooooooh” after you do it.

Then again… maybe that IS the moral of the story! 🙂

The Wise Grappler QoTD (4/19/11)

April 20, 2011

“Seek advice but use your own common sense.” (Yiddish Proverb)

The Wise Grappler QoTD (4/15/11)

April 16, 2011

“Just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” (Colin Sautar)

Ask The Wise Grappler: Can “Mind Trickery” Work During a BJJ Match?

April 11, 2011

“Paul, as I was running yesterday, coming up on a really steep hill, I realized that I have a habit of looking down at my feet while battling an uphill. The reason for this is that if I look at my feet instead of what lies ahead, I’m less aware of how steep the incline is, and I’m less likely to give up….all part of the mental game.

Then I started to wonder if this is wise, to use my mind-trickery (it works most of the time and I get up the hill) or if it’s just me not facing my challenges head on. Of course, I then equated that to grappling. When faced with a challenging match up, is it better to say to myself “this is just like class…no big deal, just roll” or to acknowledge the challenge in front of me and try to get myself into the mindset of “I can do this”?

Perhaps it’s an individualized thing…whatever works for you, but I thought I’d throw it out there.”


TWG: That’s a good question to ask because I think every OG can and should use this “mind trickery” as you call it.

Experience has shown me that the mind and body work hand-in-hand to complete everything we do. With simple challenges, it’s easy for that interaction to be overlooked. But for bigger challenges, not recognizing how they work together can result in failure. Simply put, the body will do exactly what the mind tells it to do.

For example, when I was stationed at Camp Pendleton during the 1980s, we used to run up a LOT of hills for PT. Those hill runs used to be a struggle for me at times because I would spend most of the run focus on how steep the hill would be.

Then one day, we got a new First Sergeant in our company and when he took us on our first hill run, he made us chant the word “hill” all the way to the top.

It may not seem like much, but with 40-50 guys just repeating the word “hill” up this steep incline for at least half a mile, it made a big difference. For the first time, running to the top of that hill didn’t seem so hard because my mindset was MORE determined to beat the hill instead of being focused on how steep it was.

Now, can the same “mind trickery” be applied to grappling?
Absolutely! In fact, it occurs EVERY training session whether
we’re aware of it or not.

For example, we’ve all had sparring sessions where we “mind
tricked” ourselves out of a good performance because our partner was bigger, stronger or just better than us. And once our mind sends out that “I’m gonna get my butt kicked” message, the body responds to it by ensuring a bad match and eventually quits on you.

However, if we felt that we had the advantage against our partner, our mind would send out the “this guy is toast” message and the body would respond to that as well.

Unfortunately, this kind of “mind trickery” (along with mental
mindset training) is grossly neglected in grappling. Too many
grapplers think the key to mat success is learning a technique that the next guy doesn’t have, but that isn’t the case at all.

Once you start building your mental mindset (like I teach in my “5 Mental Roadblocks System” at, you’ll learn that having a tough OG mindset is the missing link that’s been hindering your mat progression and allow you to excel on the mat.

So, keep on “mind tricking” yourself and enjoy smashing through those obstacles placed in front of you, whether it’s running or an opponent’s tough mount defense. 🙂

Paul Greenhill (aka The Wise Grappler)

The Wise Grappler QoTD (4/5/11)

April 6, 2011

“If you don’t liike something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” (Mary Engelbreit)