? for Matt T. or anyone else


What are your thoughts regarding a wrestling ride (legs sprawled out on toes) vs. BJJ pin (on knees)?

I realize that it's not a black-or-white/either-or issue, but could you give some insight concerning:




Preferences among various body-types

I have more of a wrestling influence, but as a smaller guy I'm curious if a more BJJ oriented top-game would suit me better. I've seen talented people representing both camps, each with an effective top game despite their criticism towards the other. Obviously playing with both methods will give me the answers I seek, but if you could start me on the path with some objective analysis, it'd be greatly appreciated. Thanks!



I'll chime in a bit until Matt gets on line.

You need to integrate both and keep a few things in mind.

Pinning with knees touching the mat/ body allows for less arm work in
assistance where as pinning with the pressure of your toes up through
your legs through your chest will require a bit more arm work focused
on blocking out the legs as well as endurance on your part.

Hips are the key point in both types of pinning and learning to adjust
them while transitioning between both is what I recommend you work
on. You need both types of pressures as regardless of what views you
have, you will roll with people who can crush you with either method
and this is largely in part on how they transfer pressure (control /
fatigue your breathing) through their hips, shouldes, and controlling
your elbows.

Hips will also make or break your mobility or transitioning with
pressure as again, you can move well with both methods regardless if
it looks like staying on your toes may be faster. Speed and mobility is
more a matter of staying ahead of your opponent and not being faster.
What I mean is that, speed in a match is relative to who is shutting
down movement in the other as well as using those "cut off" points to
get ahead with their game/ set ups. You can move slower than your
opponent yet make it look like they are always a few steps behind
through the use of proper control which from the top is all hips and
from below is....all hips. :)

I personally coach pinning with hips first and staying on the toes to
accent hip and chest pressure. Then slowly add knees to control hips
and upper body and eventually picking up arms / elbows and using the
pry bar. Using scissor stepping (scarf/ reverse scarf) to move around
the entire body while avoiding the legs is essential as well.

Hope this helps a bit,


I would echo what Luis said, and also add a broad generalization. I have worked with a lot of world class wrestlers, and BJJ people. And I have noticed over the Years that the top games are very different.

From the wrestlers perspective, they have what I would call more of a floating game. They are next to impossible to reverse, and shut down the transition to knees really well. But they also don't feel nearly as heavy or airtight as a good BJJ player does. The really suffocating top game that makes you feel like a tube of toothpaste being squeezed is more common to BJJ. And it usually takes ahwile to aquire since it is subtle, and based on feel.

Also remember that wrestlers don't worry about people pulling guard in their sport. So they have a top game designed to stop people from getting back to their knees. In BJJ, sub, or MMA you have to stop both.

Regards legs straight, or knees up, you will use both at times. Preference will depend on a lot of factors, your own build (shorter, stockier people can sprawl lower with legs straight then taller leaner people can), your opps build, your opps pref escape method (going to guard, or going to 1/4s), and your objective. . . .are you flattening them out, killing an arm, or taking a sub? All things will factor into it.

Learn both as Luis suggested. And in time I think you will find your own style which may prefer either of these two top games, or a few more, and it will show itself when you roll.


Thank you, Luis and Matt, for your responses.

Should I check out series 2 for this material or do you have another recommendation? I will have to add it to my list of things to get.

Series #2 top game has a lot of material on this. As does Luis So Flo, and the new Berkeley DVD series. The Berkeley series has the fundamental 5 I teach for top, along with a complete knee ride curriculum.

Thanks again!

I would also suggest the SBGi syllabus seminar that has a good section on top game.