Chris Haueter is a legendary BJJ instructor and coach, and over the years his 3 golden rules of grappling have become a famous mantra in the sport. Haueter has been a BJJ black belt under Rigan Machado since 1996 and is actually one of the first few non-Brazilians to earn the rank. After having spent decades honing his skills on the mat, naturally there is an incredible amount of knowledge that someone like that can give to newer starters and even experienced competitors. Although he’s already incredibly well-known in the sport, his 3 golden rules of grappling have actually become even more well-known than he is himself.
That’s because they resonate with anybody who has ever tried to learn BJJ, and they’re also incredibly simple to remember. Just by committing to these 3 rules in training, newer starters can expect to perform significantly better than if they had continued training blind. The first rule is something that anyone with Judo or wrestling experience should be familiar with, but it’s not as common in BJJ:
“Be the guy on top. When on top, stay on top.”
It’s a remarkably effective mentality but sadly, one that many BJJ practitioners neglect. It’s a fact that in any grappling match, the person on the bottom is going to be carrying the weight of the person on top. While there are some incredible guard-players in the sport who will obviously choose to be on bottom if they can, there is always a limit to how much pressure they can soak up. That’s why even the most seasoned guard-players will still wrestle up or sweep their opponents when the opportunity presents itself. When the opportunity doesn’t present itself, that’s where the second rule comes into play:
“When on bottom, have a guard you shall not pass.”
This is the one of the 3 golden rules of grappling that will come most naturally to BJJ practitioners, something that Chris Haueter knows all too well. If the bottom player is carrying the weight of the person on top then it’s far better to be in a functional guard, where the structure of frames and grips allows the bottom player to redistribute that weight better. Rather than soaking up pressure directly onto the chest, better to use the skeletal structure to support that weight or use grips to off-balance the opponent. With that being said, the third rule is always worth remembering too:
“Never forget rule number one. Easily forgotten due to the elusive and seductive nature of the guard.”
This brings the 3 golden rules of grappling full circle, and it really brings home the overall point that Chris Haueter makes with them. Being on top should always be considered preferable to being on the bottom and it shouldn’t be something that gets given up so easily. Although it’s an incredibly simple point, it’s one that’s sadly missing from a lot of BJJ practitioners and it often gets overlooked by new starters.
The footage of Chris Haueter breaking down his 3 golden rules of grappling was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of SBG PDX & Vancouver: