Attacking and Defending the Turtle

Attacking and Defending the Turtle

The turtle position is one of the most underrated positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  It is imperative for bjj practitioners to feel comfortable attacking and defending from the turtle position.  Why is the turtle so important to learn?  If you are good at defending your turtle you can develop incredible guard retention and you will be very difficult to submit.  If you attack well from turtle you will have a wide arsenal of attacks and be extremely dangerous.

Turtle is also an enormous part of competition because if someone is about to pass your guard in a competition and you turtle than they are not awarded points.  This is a huge benefit to turtling and another reason that the position has exploded with popularity. So if you are a competitor you should know the turtle inside and out.

Attacking from the Turtle

Being well versed in your attacks from turtle is extremely important for any practitioners but even more important for competitors.  What types of attacks are there from turtle?  You want to be able to take the back, you want to be able to submit your opponent, and you want to be able to maintain position and go to side control, mount, or crucifix if necessary. 

Attacking submissions is very important from turtle, not only do you want to submit your opponent but you can also open up different opportunities from attacking submissions.  For example sometimes you can attack and arm bar and this can open up a back take.

Taking the back from turtle is another huge element of being good at attacking from turtle.  You want to be able to take the back and keep the back.  Check out our article on back control here to work on maintaining the back.  One of the most popular back takes is taking the back from turtle.

Maintaining position is also a big part of attacking the turtle.  Many people will attempt to roll from turtle and if you have good timing, as they attempt to roll you can get to side control or even take their back.  Check out this video of turtle attacks with Judo Olympic Silver Medalist and bjj Black Belt Travis Stevens.

Defending the Turtle

Defending the turtle is just as imperative as attacking from the turtle.  If someone is passing your guard they may force you to turtle. Some people such as Black Belt competitor, Eduardo Telles, are so good at defending the turtle they start matches in the position. 

You have to be able to defend submissions and back take attempts from the turtle.  Your opponent will be attacking you relentlessly if you’re turtled; this means that you need to be ready to defend immediately after turtling.  Defending the hooks is a huge part of being good from turtle; some people will allow their opponent to get inches from a back take but just keep the second hook away and eventually retain their guard.  Others even threaten submissions from the turtle such as knee bars, toe holds, kimuras and arm locks.  Check out this video of counters and defense from the turtle position.

If you want to learn how to attack and defend the turtle at the highest level, check out Judo Olympic Silver Medalist Travis Stevens DVD set, “Attacking and Defending the Turtle.”  Also check out this article on the turtle position, “Breaking the BJJ Rules Like and Artist.”  It is about Eduardo Telles who has arguably the best turtle ever. 

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