Control requires letting go...
***A quick note before I start: This is not a fully-formed thought... I hope to start a discussion with this post, and I'll update the post occsasionally as warranted. So please, if you think I got something wrong or missed something, let me know. ***
Control is a huge part of groundwork... Gaining control over your opponent, and preventing them from getting control over you. But too often, I see people try to exert absolute control over their opponents, trying to prevent any part of them from moving an inch. I can manage this pretty well against my 2 year old son, but not against another 170-pounder...
Don't think about controlling "your opponent" - think about controlling parts of your opponent. Sensei Virgil Bowles, may he rest in peace, used to demonstrate the two-finger hold down: with his victim laying on his or her back, he would put one finger on the wrist of the victim's oustretched right arm, and another finger on the victim's jaw bone, forcing them to face left. This proved to be quite effective at keeping the bad guy down - and even more effective at illustrating his point: If you control the right pieces, you don't need to control that much.
When you focus on one part, you can apply all of your weight/strength to that part. Or maybe you can apply 70% to one part and 30% to another... But the more parts you add, the less of yourself you can apply, and the easier it will be to overcome your control at each of the points...
What are some useful things to control? Here are some thoughts:
- Head Direction: If you can make his head look one way, you can bet he won't twist the other way. People tend to try to avoid twisting their heads off. And you get to fight against relatively weak muscles.
- *A* Shoulder: Most of the time, its a waste to try to control both of them... Focus on one. Don't let it up (too far, anyhoo), and don't let them pull it away from you.
- The Hips - A Hip, maybe?: Not as good as the shoulders, but a person can't turn over to their stomachs with their hips facing the ceiling... Though I have seen some Gumby-esque kids who have come close.
- A Floating Rib: Maybe a half-rack? My original thinking here was about controlling the side... but that's too generic, and too large of a target. If you can focus on pinning the floating ribs down, that will make it hard to breath and difficult to turn away. Turning in is still a risk, though.
- The Neck: Generally, you would use this to prevent the bad guy from rotating, or from sitting up. But beware that wrapping your arm under the neck can trap your arm if bad guy presses his head down.
- An Arm (Part): The arm is too big of a part as well, but I didn't want to list all of them. Trapping a wrist or controlling above the elbow (that is, on the humorous) are two good candidates. Similar to how opponents like to keep their heads screwed on, they also like to keep their arms in socket. A lot of arm control will be a part of shoulder control, though.
- A Leg: Legs are probably my least favorite. They are big and strong, and can be a terrible waste of energy. But there are times when the legs will ... present themselves as useful tools. Similar to the arm:shoulder relationship, I think control of the legs (from a pinning perspective) should generally be aimed at controlling the hips. For instance, if you can press the legs down and make the hips face one way, that will prevent the bad guy from turning the other way. You just need to be extra-careful about them turning towards their legs.