“Position before submission” is one of the most commonly repeated adages in BJJ pedagogy, and John Danaher has gone into depth on how this can be adapted to apply to leglocks. The concept is a fairly straightforward one, and has been around for practically as long as BJJ itself. It simply means that any BJJ practitioner should focus on obtaining a dominant position and securing it effectively before they start setting up submission attempts. The benefit of this approach is essentially twofold:
Primarily, it serves to make sure that the attacker stays in a dominant position if his submission attempt does not work. If someone starts passing guard and leaps into a Kimura straight away, should their opponent be able to escape the attack it’s likely that they’ll be able to recover guard relatively quickly. If that same person secures the guard pass first, establishes a strong side control position and then begins setting up grips for the Kimura, should the opponent escape then the attacker should be able to maintain side control and begin working for a submission again.
As a secondary benefit, working to solidify the position before the submission when points are in play will allow the attacker to reach scoring positions and gain a lead on the scoreboard in the event that they are unable to submit their opponent, and should still win on points. John Danaher explains that this approach has to be modified somewhat for leglocks, because of the nature of some of the positions involved and the fact that both grapplers have the opportunity to work for submissions.
Because of this, he has adapted the adage to “Defensive soundness before submission” so as to encourage his athletes to protect themselves first and foremost, before they begin attacking a submission. He explained it in depth in a recent post to his official Instagram account, but he believes that this allows his athletes to attack without fear of counter-attacks and in turn, it allows them to avoid submission shootouts where the fastest athlete is most likely to win.