BACK ESCAPE BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an extremely diverse form of combat, with a high calibre of offensive attacks, and a highly functional series of defensive components. There are many fundamental aspects that a student will learn from the outset of their journey through the art.
What this article covers:
- What Is the Back Control Position
- How to Defend Chokes from the Back
- Ways to Escape from Back Control
Learning concepts of guard principles, positional control, passing the guard, takedown maneuvers, sweeping mechanics are all just the tip of the iceberg. All students will take time to master even the basics of all these types of foundations, and probably the most important aspect of all is learning how to escape from control positions, and from submission maneuvers. Getting out of a control position is one thing, but to escape from deep into a submission hold like an arm lock, or a choke hold is an extremely specific skill set.
There are a multitude of different ways to escape from all different control positions. Each escape is dependent on how an opponent is securing the control, or how they are beginning to attack a submission. It takes a lot of knowledge, and practise to escape the right way, because a wrong move can lead into a submission, and not escaping quickly enough can also lead into a submission, or an even worse control position. Above all else, students need to stay calm, and know that the only way to escape from a bad position is to use posture, framing, angling, shifting weight, breaking grips, re-gripping, and not exposing any of their vital areas. These are all fundamental components that a student will learn over time, and after a while will become like a form of body conditioning.
Learning fundamentals in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the backbone to any good practitioner's game style. There is a mountain of foundational components to learn in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with some of the most important of all being positional escapes. If a student can be extremely resilient, and not allow an opponent to submit them, then they will build up an exceptional strength within their grappling systems. There are many aspects that are equally as important, but in terms of becoming unchokable, and unkillable, learning submission defense, submission escape, positional defense, and positional escape are the most important aspects, especially from a self defense stand point.
Escaping from all positions requires an athlete to be mindful of their vital parts. This means to tuck the chin, so an opponent cannot access choke holds, and to keep their elbows into their hips, because an athlete that over reaches with their arms will only just succeed at getting caught in an arm bar. Setting up good foundations must happen at the beginning of a practitioner's journey, because ingraining certain habits can be hard to break later on. Another important aspect about escaping from positions is to always escape, and look to move into a more threatening position, if the athlete only utilises a bjj side control escape without thinking about shutting down the next attack, then their opponent will easily secure the mount, or the back control position. An athlete must escape, and shut down all other control avenues, and this can be done by resorting straight into fundamental principles like using frames, good posture, and connecting their elbows to their knees.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A DEFENSIVE STRUCTURE
A good defensive structure in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is crucial to survivability, and important for moving into an attacking position. Athletes will need to use their skeletal strength, and not always rely on their muscular strength, and this means to use the power behind their frames. Using a whole forearm, and the shinbone as a way to keep an opponent off them is not only good for defending a position, but is also good for advancing their position. Using movements like hip shrimping into the half guard is one of the most comprehensive defensive structures there is in BJJ. Guard retention is crucial to an athlete that has given up a bad position, and moving back into a full, or open guard can usually only happen after securing the half guard position.
Defensive structures can also be utilised from deep within a submission move like defending an arm bar. Athletes will generally cup their own bicep muscle to create a figure four defense, and this defensive structure will help them to free their arm from within the locking mechanism. This is the same when an opponent attempts a rear naked choke from the back control, as the athlete must use early defensive structures like using their forearms to protect their vital neck areas. They will also look to frame their jawbone against their own shoulder, and this will help to alleviate any pressure that may be applied to the neck. Keeping their chin tucked into their chest is another way to counteract an opponent from threading their arm underneath their jaw, and this is important to help buy enough time to set up an escape.
Defensive structures can also be applied to the standup game, as an athlete will commonly look to act cautiously when engaging their opponent. Over extending an arm can lead to arm drags, or other attacks from an opponent, so it is important to keep their elbows tucked into their sides. Keeping a based position is crucial to the defensive set up, and this will help an athlete become impenetrable to any kind of takedown attempt. Using defensive moves like the sprawl, is all about timing, and using this method goes into distance management, and spatial awareness. Knowing how to break an opponent's grip, and repositioning an athlete's grips is vital to stifling any control an opponent may secure. This is called grip fighting, and usually the athlete that secures the dominant grips has the better chance of achieving the takedown.
WHAT IS THE BACK CONTROL POSITION
The back control position is the most advantageous control position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The fact that an athlete will have both of their hooks in the groin of their opponent, and an over under grip around their torso and neck, can be quite daunting to the opponent. The athlete will be able to severely impede an opponent's vision of what the athlete is doing, and this can lead to many comprehensive submission attempts. The back control position will score four points in competition, and is the most iconic control position in the game. The statistics show that the rear naked choke is the most utilised submission from any position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This is why the modern day athlete is highly systematic with how they can secure a back take, as inversion techniques like the berimbolo, or the more traditional form of following an under hook into a back take has become increasingly popular.
HOW TO DEFEND CHOKES FROM THE BACK
Defending chokes from the back control position will differ depending on which choke is applied. In essence all choke defenses have the same fundamentals involved like tucking the chin, turning the head to the side, securing a double grip on the choking arm, shooting their body lower towards the mat, and turning their body towards their opponent. Defending a rear naked choke is best served as an early defense, and this means to tuck the chin, and secure a grip on the choking arm. It is also important to keep their jawline secured to their shoulder, otherwise the opponent will just switch arms, and attack the choke from the other side. Once the choke is in deep, an athlete needs to peel the top arm down, and then look to address the choking arm. There is not usually much time from this situation to stop the choke, so the athlete needs to think fast, and move even faster.
There are other chokes that can be applied like a bow and arrow choke, an ezekiel choke, or other types of Gi chokes. This is traditionally where an opponent will secure a tight grip on the collar, and use it to pull into the throat like a rope. Gi chokes can be among the most brutal submission maneuvers in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu arsenal. Defending these types of chokes need to be an instant response, because of how quickly it can finish off an athlete. The moment any opponent secures a collar grip, the athlete needs to fight this grip, and there are two ways to do this. The first is to simply grab their own lapel with two hands underneath where the grip is being secured, and pull downwards, as this will make it hard for an opponent to keep control of the grip. The second way is to simply thread their hand up in between the lapel and their own neck, as their hand and wrist will form a framing position. This is crucial to catch these choke attempts early on, otherwise an athlete will be in deep trouble of being submitted.
WAYS TO ESCAPE FROM BACK CONTROL
There are many different ways to escape from the back control position, and an athlete always needs to use early prevention methods. Obviously if an opponent has taken their back, then they have made some mistakes already. If an athlete can stay in a seated position, then they have a chance of stifling the choke altogether. To do this they can grab hold of both hooks, and look to separate them, as they scoot their hips out of the lock, but in most cases an opponent will be able to control the athlete with a seatbelt control. It is imperative to address the choking arm, and not allow any sort of pressure to be applied to the neck. One way to do this is for the athlete to roll towards the under hooked side, and keep a tight grip on the choking arm, as this is a good way to buy some time against an aggressive opponent.
Escaping from the back control position can happen a number of different ways. One of the most common escapes is for an athlete to keep their chin tucked, while They secure a grip on the choking arm to alleviate pressure from the neck. From this position they will begin to bridge their body upwards, and this will help to destabilise their opponent's hooks. The athlete will then use their body pressure to sit on one of their opponent's hooks, while moving their body upwards and to the side of their opponent. The athlete will then turn to their side, as they free their neck from the danger, and apply a cross face, and a block in the hip, as they look to secure the side control position. This can also help the athlete move into more dominant positions like the mount, or even work their way straight into a submission attempt like an arm bar, or a kimura.
Another way to escape from the back control position is to secure a two handed grip on the choking arm. The athlete will then lift up their opponent's arm over their head, and trap it to the outside of their head by holding onto the tricep with one arm. Keeping a nice tight grip, the athlete will use their free arm to displace their opponent's farside hook. The next step is to step over their opponent's opposite leg, as they turn their body towards the arm they have trapped. From here there are a couple of different options like simply continuing to turn their body, and scooping their opponent's head, as a way to stabilise their pass into a more dominant position. The other option is to use the arm they have trapped to thread underneath the neck, as they pull down the head. This will create an opportunity to work into a darce choke, or even a guillotine submission attempt.
Sometimes utilising an early defense mechanism will help an athlete escape from the back control position. This means that before an opponent has secured their arm underneath the chin, and around the neck, the athlete will begin by using their forearms crossed over in front of their body, as their knees are also pushed up in a higher position. From here the athlete can use their heels to dig into the mat, as they shoot their butt towards their own heels, and this will force their opponent's hooks upwards, creating an avenue to pummel their leg inside of their opponent's hook. Now the athlete can use their forearms to scoop underneath the opposite leg, pulling the leg over their shoulder, and continuing their movement towards the side control position. This can be a highly effective back escape, and one that can put an athlete into a significantly advantageous position.
USING DEFENSE TO FIND AN OFFENSE
There is an old saying that says a strong defense is a good offense, and this couldn't be more true in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. A good defensive structure will almost always lead to an offensive attack. For example an opponent may look to lock up a triangle, and the athlete can use their defensive structure to free their neck from danger, as they move straight past their opponent's guard, and into an attacking position. There are many different scenarios that give an athlete a comprehensive range of attacking control, just by using a good defensive structure. The half guard is another perfect example, as the opponent is on top in half mount, and should be in a more dominant control position, but usually the athlete that has the half guard position can use this defensive mechanism like the lockdown, the deep half, or the under hook to turn their defense into an offensive attack.
Defensive positions can be administered from all control positions, and this is evident from the mount, as the athlete will use the framing aspects of their knees, and their elbows to find an escape. The back control is a more comprehensive control position, but even a good defensive action will help an athlete escape from imminent danger. Athletes must look to protect their neck at all times, secure the choking arm, turning into their opponent's guard, these are all principles that can guide an athlete into becoming more attacking from these defensive positions. Above all else an athlete needs calmness, and resilience to be able to deal with adversity, and this concept goes deeper than defending a submission, it can be applied to a person's everyday life.
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