Stay On The Offense With These Top Position Drills For BJJ

Generally, the top position is the primary goal in grappling sports such as BJJ. Being the grappler on top puts you in an advantageous position, giving you leverage and enabling you to dominate the match. Getting on top isn’t just about stalling for points in a match; it’s about asserting your dominance with control, allowing you to move around your go-to positions and game plan. This article will give you 6 top position drills for grappling.


6 Top Position Drills For Grappling

Getting and keeping the top position are two different skills a grappler should develop. Even more so, transitioning around to keep the top position is essential as every opponent reacts differently. Below are 6 top position drills to help keep you on the offense.


Knee On Belly Drill

Starting from the side control pin, place both hands on the mat and pop up for the knee one belly. If you’re on the left side, apply the knee on the belly using your right knee. As a common reaction, placing a knee on the opponent’s belly will force them to frame against your knee. As they do, switch to the reverse knee on the belly by placing your left knee on their chest with your hips facing towards their hips.

As your training partner pushes your left knee, switch back to the regular knee on belly with your right knee. This is to practice moving your hips and switch from regular knee on belly to reverse. To keep the drill going, as soon as you switch to the reverse knee on belly and your training partner pushes your left knee down the mat, switch your right leg to the opposite side as you land on the mount and finish with the triangle.


Side Control Drill

There are different ways to drill and move around side control. With this example, let’s use the step-over drill and standing surfboard pass to step over, as shown in the video. The step-over drill is used to counter the opponent’s underhook from bottom side control. To start, step over your training partner’s underhook from the bottom side control and land on the opposite side. As you step over and land, lock a figure-four grip to set up arm and shoulder submissions and back takes. Continuously perform on each side.

The standing surfboard pass to step-over drill is used against opponents’ open guard, landing on the knee on the belly position. Starting from the open guard, drive in with your knee to land on the knee on belly position, and as your training partner pushes your knee off with the hand, perform the step-over movement and land to the opposite side control and apply a figure four lock.


Mount Position Drills

Starting from side control (left side), square out your arm and stance by bringing your heels close to your glute while keeping everything tight. Maintain chest-to-chest connection with your training partner and tuck your knees in contact with their shoulder and hip. Drop your left shoulder to their chin and keep the cross face.

Use your left arm to grab your training partner’s near tricep and kick your right leg towards their head to land on the kesa gatame position. Slide your leg back and return to side control. Isolate the opponent’s far arm by placing your left elbow on the armpit. Slide your left leg through and face their hip to land on the reverse kesa gatame position. Use your right hand to tap your training partner’s far knee and step over your right leg to land on the mount.

Place both hands on the mat and stay low so you don’t get reversed when your partner bridges. Walk your right hand over and isolate the opponent’s left arm by placing your right hand on their left armpit. Dismount by stretching your left leg to stay flat against your training partner. Roll your hip to the right side by back-stepping your left foot to land on Kesa Gatame (right side). From here, slide your knee along your training partner’s body and return to side control. Repeat the drill starting from the opposite side.


North-South Drill

The north-south is one of the most challenging positions to escape, especially when used correctly. For this drill, start from side control and apply a crossface. As your training partner frames to your shoulder and neck using their far arm, abandon the cross face and control their far arm. Assuming you’re on the left side control, switch your control and place your right hand beside the opponent’s near hip.

Slowly walk your knees from side control going north-south. As you establish north-south, control the opponent’s torso by grabbing their belt using both arms. Alternatively, you can keep your hands tight on the sides. Slowly walk to the opposite side while maintaining control of the opponent’s upper body.


S Mount Armbar Drill

Starting from the armbar position with your training partner holding their hands together, have your far hand (the hand that’s closest to the opponent’s legs) pull their far elbow in. Use our near hand (closest to your training partner’s head) to post on the mat. Drag your far heel from the far side of your training partner’s body (between their ear and shoulder)and lift your hips. As you land to mount while maintaining control over the arm, step over their head and land on the armbar position on the opposite side.


Knee Slide Pass Drill

Starting from the open guard, use your left hand to control the inside of the opponent’s pants (near leg) and your right hand to control the outside of the opponent’s far knee. Push your left hand and extend your left leg backward simultaneously. Quickly step your left leg outside and drag the opponent’s near leg between your legs.

Slide your right knee across their near thigh and use your right hand to apply an underhook on the opponent’s far arm. Finish the knee slide by extending your right knee and landing on side control.



Mastering the top position is a skill that can only make you a better grappler. Learning how to transition from one dominant position to another is essential for developing the offensive side of your grappling. Tailor the movements that suit your game while considering your attributes in the process.


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