Attacking the Turtle Position
One of the most frustrating positions an opponent or sparring partner can assume is the turtle position. Think about it, they are perfectly balled up and if they're smart they are keeping their elbows tight and behind the thighs. Though generally frowned upon by BJJ practitioners as a lazy or stalling position, not to mention a position that does not put one into a great position from a self defense perspective, it is still a position that a highly defensive or tired training partner or competition opponent will assume to frustrate you.
In Judo, the turtle position is looked upon a bit more favorably as a protective position that will prevent and thwart an opponent's newaza game. With many BJJ athletes utilizing Judo and it's direct connection as a pre-cursor to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in their cross training, the turtle position is something that it's important to learn to attack effectively opening up your opponent's defenses.
How to start attacking the turtle position
Creating Space and Using Leverage
In the video above the turtle attack begins by wedging ones knee into the space between the opponents thigh and their elbow, thereby creating some additional space. Nothing is accomplished until the opponent begins to open up. By adding a cross face grip on the opponents far arm and reaching through the created space to grab low on the opponent's elbow with both hands, they are easily turned over onto their side. This allows you to begin establishing side control and attacking depending upon the person's reaction.
Set up and feint
Though the above attack may not work on someone more experienced, it can be effectively used to further open up space and attack crucifix (near side arm) and choking options like the clock choke.
Back up to knee mount
Another option would be to maintain weight on the opponent and reach over securing fabric at their far knee and far elbow. Once this grip is secured, you can pop up from your knees to a standing position while holding this grip and step back. This will roll your opponent back towards you, opening up their turtle and allowing you to immediately achieve knee on the belly position and launch further attacks.
Rolling Attack of the Turtle PositionIn the video above, Judo Olympian and BJJ black belt Travis Stevens uses his to encourage his opponent to grab it, allowing Travis to trap the arm. Once trapped, Travis reaches through to grab his opponent's thigh during the roll. By simply shrimping away from his opponent, while holding the isolated arm, he achieves the submission.
Attacking the Judo Player with Lapels
In his video above, Kurt Osiander finds an opening and secures the far lapel. Once this grip is established he moves to the opposite side and uses his knee and thigh to trip the opponent over into a pin position. A second option is to secure a lapel and sleeve grip and attack the clock choke. One key detail important to note is how Kurt uses his knee to enter into the the opponent's hip crease and slides down to create space.
We've talked a bit in this article about the relationship between judo and jiu jitsu. You can learn more by checking out this article from BJJ Fanatics about the the two sports.
At the end of the day, there are several fundamental keys to begin creating an effective arsenal of attacks against the turtle. First, make your opponent carry as much of your weight and pressure as you can. Secondly, work to create space and openings by driving your knee into the hip crease or by using various cross face techniques. Lastly, proper gripping whether using the lapels or gripping their base points to break down their foundations, is essential. Once the opponent begins to be stretched out, you can begin to hunt for submissions like arm attacks and chokes.
In order to improve both your turtle position attacks and defenses, it's important to seek out more resources that can aid you. In Judo Olympian and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Travis Stevens, you have the best of both worlds. You can learn more by checking out his series on the turtle position here.