There are countless ways to improve in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and one of them is working on the ability to control opponents in a dominant fashion. As a practitioner gains more experience, they become better at controlling their opponents, enabling themselves to think ahead and predict the possible reactions they will get from typical positions. A common sign of an experienced grappler is when they begin mixing dominant positions and transitions to gain the upper hand in sparring sessions. Today, we will talk about how to use the gift wrap and how it can help improve your BJJ.
What Is The Gift Wrap Position?
In Jiu-Jitsu, the gift wrap is a position used to control the opponent’s upper body. The gift wrap allows you to control the opponent’s neck and shoulders using your arms, allowing your legs to move around to set up submissions or transitions freely while lying perpendicular to the opponent. Fundamentally, the control in the gift wrap position is done with a kimura grip on the opponent’s near arm while trapping it with their neck.
If you are a fan of submitting your opponents from behind, think of the gift wrap as a technique similar to the bow and arrow submission (especially the no-gi variation). In the bow and arrow, you grab the opponent’s lapel from behind; in the gift wrap, you instead grab their arm and put it across their neck. The gift wrap is especially devastating in MMA as your other arm is free to strike the opponent’s head.
As many consider the gift wrap a hybrid position of the mount and back mount, it can be used to control the opponents as is, you can also use it to apply submissions like the triangle or armbar, or as a means to transition to other dominant positions like the back.
How To Perform The Gift Wrap
The gift wrap is typically applied from the mount. From the mounted position, if the opponent faces to the side, grab their top arm’s wrist and wrap it around their neck. While opponents often go to their side when mounted, you can also force them to do so by moving to either side you want to apply the gift wrap with while using a head and arm control or by going to the technical mount.
While controlling the opponent’s wrist, slide your leg on top of the opponent’s midsection while keeping your foot on the mat to block the opponent’s mid-thigh. Doing so blocks the opponent’s ability to bring their bottom leg forward and use it to turn their body towards you. While controlling the opponent’s wrist, try not to pull it too far behind, as it will force the opponent to roll down loose. Instead, keep a firm grip and push the opponent’s elbow to their diaphragm. While this is practically the gift wrap position, you can finish the opponent with the rear naked choke by flattening them on the mat (belly down). Keep your chest tight behind the opponent. Use it to steamroll the opponent’s belly down until both their arms are trapped. Use your hand to grab the opponent’s forehead and post your elbow on the mat. Slide your other arm (choking arm) across the opponent’s neck and finish the rear naked choke.
Take The Back From The Gift Wrap
From the gift wrap position, secure the kimura grip. Align your hip with the opponent’s shoulder. You can lift your elbow on your bottom thigh to ensure everything is connected. Tuck your bottom foot behind the opponent’s back. Instead of sitting down directly, drop your torso to the opposite side. Doing so lands you in the underhook side of the seatbelt.
Another variation is to grab the opponent’s bottom arm instead of using the kimura grip. As you hold the opponent’s bottom arm, you can either pin it on the mat or transition to the triangle. Though with this variation, we will be wrapping it around their body. Sit down on the opposite side. As you land your back on the mat, you are now in the straight jacket position, which you can use to attack the back.
Another option is to go in their direction when the opponent turns belly down as you try to pull them back on the mat. As the opponent turns belly down, open their elbow up as their elbow can get in the way as you turn them down. You can sometimes submit the opponent as they go belly down by keeping their elbow up as it attacks their shoulder. One way to prevent the shoulder submission from the opponent’s point of view is to roll through, which puts you on the back mount with the underhook side of the seatbelt as they do.
Triangle Choke From The Gift Wrap
Likewise, when you are on mount, and the opponent turns to their side, move to the modified mount position (technical mount). Push the opponent’s top arm elbow down and control their wrist to secure the gift wrap. Pin their bottom arm on the mat to create space. Sometimes, the opponent will try to connect their bottom arm to their top arm, which removes the space for your leg as you go for the triangle. When this happens, lift the opponent’s head using your wrist control.
After creating space, use your top leg to jump for a triangle. Make sure that your leg is between the top arm and bottom arm. Let go of the wrist and control your top leg’s ankle. Make sure your top leg is tight on the opponent’s neck by posting your hand on the mat as you let it go from controlling the opponent’s bottom arm. As you post, lean forward and drop your weight on top of the opponent as you readjust your triangle by looping your leg around. Ensure that your calf is behind the opponent’s neck and not on their back, as you cannot lock the triangle otherwise.
The gift wrap gives access to two of the most dominant positions in grappling, the mount and back mount. It allows you to apply numerous submissions, some of which are difficult to defend, like the rear triangle, and is a great means to surprise your opponents, like the armbar. Add the gift wrap to your game and see how you swiftly transition from one dominant position to another.
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