Take away options until your opponent is forced to fight you where you're strongest.

Funneling is a term coined by Nelson Puentes, BJJ black belt and founder of Inverted Gear. He describes the term in an excellent article on his blog, Build Funnels Into Your Jiu-Jitsu Game. Here's a great excerpt describing the concept:

As I train more and more and I get a better idea of what “my game” is, I find myself using a similar principle more often. I like to call it “funneling.” What I mean when I use this term is getting to certain positions that dramatically reduce my opponent’s options. Since I am familiar with the positions, I can react accordingly, and I will pick positions where I feel I have the advantage, whether that advantage is mechanical or simply a matter of my being more experienced with the position. 

Nelson Puentes

If this sounds like a military strategy, that's because it is. It's a lot like leading an enemy army into scenario where they're left with only bad options, like a bottleneck or unfamiliar terrain. This is the mental model known as asymmetric warfare: forcing your opponent to fight where you're strong and they're weak.

To create your funneling strategy:

  1. Identify which positions yield the greatest results for you (see 80/20 Rule). These are generally positions where you're comfortable and are fluent in the predictable responses.
  2. Build a reportoire of strategies and transitions that lead your opponent into these positions.

Essentially, creating a funneling strategy requires you to think backward. First identify your most effective positions, then define several entry techniques that funnel your opponent into those positions.

Nelson's article is the best way to understand funneling, so head to the Inverted Gear blog and read Build Funnels Into Your Jiu-Jitsu Game.


Further study

Master this mental model with our audio courses.


Learn over 150 mental models for Jiu-Jitsu.

Exclusively on BJJ Mental Models Premium.

Try it free. Cancel anytime. No bullshit. Only $20/mo.