My early Jiu-Jitsu journey consisted of throwing positions at people and hoping they didn’t have counters. That is, there was little to no sense of when to move.
Contrary to the above, we can make just about any sound position work provided it’s set up and timed right.
So, if we aren’t trying to run over the top of people with positions, how and when are the best times to advance?
Well, for the first example, it may often be more of a ‘horizontal’ transistion than an ‘advance,’ but the most ‘Jiu-Jitsu’ oriented transition I can think of is defensive, where your training partner gets frames and you roll your hips off them to a different Cross-Sides position, or in some cases use this moment to advance as Rickson demonstrates with a Mount from Cross-Sides @ 4:38-5:02 below. The bigger concept though is defensive transitions that prevent escape, which sometimes result in better positioning:
Secondly, and pretty common is we dominate well enough to weather escape attempts that require lots of energy. When our friend inevitably pauses to catch his or her breath for recovery, we go. The metaphor here is waiting to attack some one while they’re reloading. Cold-blooded, but encourages people to be smart with their ammo/energy.
Third, is transitioning during the decline of an opponents counter movement. The most common example of this is mounting as I see a bottom player at the top of a bridge attempt, so by the time my leg loops over, their bridge is on it’s way downward. This usually happens when our friend bridges without frames, which is a mistake although sometimes necessary for frame recovery.
Fourth, we advance by providing some sort of distraction that masks our true intention. Most common is neck pressure, or faked and real submission attempts. Rickson Gracie using this tactic against Yuki Nakai via leg-weave to set-up Mount @ 4:34-4:39:
Last but not least are transitions set up incrementally inch by inch through a number of small mechanical victories Roger Gracie style. This is a forced transition, but still ultra-technical compared to hail mary back takes or mount attempts that strive to devour the whole hog in one bite. Brilliant Gracie analysis demonstrating incremental approach by Dan ‘TrumpetDan’ Lukehart:
To sum things up, the five transitional doorways include but are not limited to:
2) During energy recovery (cardio).
3) Frame recovery and/or improper hip movement from poor escape technique.
Move accordingly! =)