At the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) 2005 Submission Wrestling World Championship, three-time All-American collegiate wrestler Reese Andy wrestled a close match against Fabricio Werdum. Andy held Werdum, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, on his back for much of the fight. Near the end of the match, Andy seized Werdum's back. Somersaulting out of a turtle position, Werdum exposed his leg and in an instant, Andy pounced on the vulnerable limb to apply a heel hook.

But the mistake was Andy's, not Werdum's. No longer smothered under Andy's punishing top position, Werdum re-positioned himself and reversed the heel hook. Andy tapped out.

All grapplers have experienced the thrill of submission victory in some form or another. The submission stems from a momentary opportunity. It is the ill positioned leg prone to capture and then a heel hook. It is the face that squirms free from an opponent's smothering bicep, only to leave the neck and vital arteries exposed for strangulation. It is the outstretched arm struggling futilely against the strength of another man's entire body.

Tap, tap, tap.

Against a difficult opponent, however, so much impedes the successful application of a submission maneuver. Your opponent defends his vulnerabilities using quickness, strength, and unpredictable movements. He breaks free of your grasp. Where you see an opening for an attack, he closes it. Over and over he eludes you. What do you do?

The key is anticipation. By developing a sense of others' grappling behavior and understanding their future moves, you grasp hold of the present. Straddling your opponent tightly from the mount position, you realize your own imbalance. As his torso wriggles and squirms and suddenly his entire body rolls, you have no time to think. You have no time to react. You must anticipate. If you will avoid being toppled over, you have to avoid clinging to the straddled position. You must let go.

Grappling is not about holding tight, nor about letting go. It's about both, and knowing when to choose one path or the other. In a given situation, the decision you make could be right or wrong. No matter, you will rarely have the luxury of being able to react. So instead anticipate. With a strong sense of anticipation, you can avoid Andy's fate. With a stronger sense of anticipation, you can make Werdum's victory your own.

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