Do you ever get to an attacking position and second guess what submission you should go for? If so, you should quit Jiu-Jitsu, you’re terrible. Just kidding, it’s a very common problem!
The general rule is position before submission. However, some submissions you risk losing position if you don’t finish your opponent/partner.
For example, you are in the mount. Your partner’s elbow is away from their body, and you think you should go for the armbar. But if you don’t get it, you’ll lose your dominant position. This is why most mma fighters don’t go for it from the mount. They punch, which is a low risk attack. So what do you do?
In stock trading, there are several ways to evaluate trades. Two are “risk/reward,” and “high percentage vs. low percentage” trades.
In any trade, there is your potential for losing money (risk) and making money (reward). Your risk may be 10 cents/share, and reward 30 cents.
A low percentage trade may have a historical average of 20% success, for example, and high percentage setup could be have a 90% success rate.
In Jiu-Jitsu, a good way to start attacking is with the low risk submissions. If you are in the mount, going for americana is low risk. If you don’t get it, you still have the mount, and you don’t risk getting tired. For many people it has a low percentage rate of being finished, but it isn’t a huge deal because it’s low risk.
You may move on to putting your hand in their collar for a cross choke, but it’s a little riskier because you could be rolled over on the side that your hand is in. But for most people it is a choke that has a higher finishing rate.
If you go for the choke and they defend it well, and in the process of defending it their elbow comes away from their body, here’s your opportunity to go for the armbar. But is an armbar always risky?
If your partner’s left arm is available and they are on their right side, it is less risky and a higher chance of finishing compared to going fro the armbar when they’re flat on their back.
Are you getting the idea? In general, go for submissions that are lower risk and have a higher rate of finishing. And when you go for a higher risk submission, find ways to make the submission less risky, and be ready to follow up with other attacks if they counter you.