Highest Percentage BJJ Submissions
The beauty about Brazilian jiu-jitsu is that anyone can do it. And everyone who does it finds their own style, their own game, and becomes proficient at their own set of submissions. This is absolutely beautiful.
However, cool as it is to see this or that jiu-jitsu athlete doing some unorthodox submission time and again to his or her hapless opponents… I’m looking at you Ruotolo Brothers… there’s no denying that there are a handful of submissions that you tend to see the most.
These are what I consider the “highest percentage” BJJ submissions.
But in a world where there are now probably millions of jiu-jitsu practitioner, training in academies large and small around the world, how can we definitively say which ones they are? This is where social science research methods come into play. And lucky for you, you have a bona fide social scientist in residence. You’re welcome.
So, what are the highest percentage BJJ submissions in Gi and No-Gi jiu-jitsu?
Highest Percentage Submissions in the Gi
The good folks at BJJ Heroes regularly puts out some pretty awesome data on jiu-jitsu. If you’re a big numbers nerd – like I am – check out their “Crunching Numbers” articles. Their recent edition on the 2022 IBJJF World Championships offers the following as the highest percentage submissions (from the Adult, Male Black Belt division) for Gi jiu-jitsu. I’ve added my thoughts on each.
- Sliding Collar Choke – As the essential 101 choke of Gi jiu-jitsu (the one you probably learned your first day of class), it’s easy to see why this is in the number one spot. I can imagine every Gi practitioner has repped this submission thousands of times before they reach black belt.
- Other Chokes – As the article doesn’t offer the raw data, I can only assume that “other chokes” includes a variety of chokes utilizing the Gi that didn’t easily fall into one or another category. With the Gi, there are so many more ways to choke someone versus in No-Gi. So, it makes sense that chokes would make up the two highest percentage Gi submissions of last year’s Mundials.
- Armbar – The superstar of joint-lock submissions, even people who only know jiu-jitsu through UFC know the armbar. For jiu-jitsu practitioners, this is another one that has generally seen thousands of reps and successful taps in the academy.
- Straight Ankle Lock – This one surprised me, as I would have guessed triangles would have taken a top spot. My best guess is that with the increased focus on leg locks in No-Gi jiu-jitsu, the IBJJF-friendly straight ankle lock has experienced a resurgence.
Highest Percentage Submissions in No-Gi
To analyze the highest percentage submissions in No-Gi jiu-jitsu, I look to last year’s ADCC World Championships. As an avid ADCC fan, I’ve already crunched the numbers in a previous blog post, “ADCC World Championships - The Numbers Pt. 2.” The results?
- Rear Naked Choke – For those who practice both Gi and No-Gi jiu-jitsu, you know how much easier it is to finish an RNC in No-Gi. Additionally, without the Gi jacket, the RNC is most practitioners’ Plan A submission once on the back.
- Armbar – Again, it’s expected that the armbar will always – and maybe forever – be in the top results, for the same reason as described above.
- Heel Hook – Unless you’ve been living in a hole the last couple years, heel hooks are, “like, so hot right now”. When properly understood, heel hooks are one of the quickest and effective ways to get a tap. Not only that, but when you’re attacking the legs, your entire body is focused on one of your opponent’s limbs.
- Guillotine – Much like the RNC, when your opponent doesn’t have the Gi on, the guillotine choke is so much more accessible. Additionally, in No-Gi jiu-jitsu, if your opponent is able to defend the guillotine, you have nice little transitions to a host of other submissions (like the D’arce or Peruvian necktie) or you can use it to advance your position.
By studying a sample set of the population, you can say something about the population as a whole. That is social science in a nutshell. Using available data on the breakdown of submissions at two of the largest tournaments of last year, we can get a pretty good idea of which submissions are currently the highest percentage.
Is this the end-all be-all conclusion? Absolutely not. The sample size is somewhat small, for one. Bigger data sets will come along which may indicate different results. But for now, it’s a pretty good approximation of the highest percentage submissions in BJJ at the moment. If you think this is bull hunky, let me know. I’d love to hear it.