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Cracking The Turtle with Gordon Ryan
The turtle position has evolved over the years into a viable defensive posture that’s often retreated to in response to an impending guard pass. This is not the only way to utilize the position but it is a very common transition that we see occurring quite frequently. Some have even implemented the turtle as a tool of offense with lots of success, attacking from the position and using it to set traps. This versatile and dynamic platform has plenty of utilities and we see it being relied upon by BJJ players at all levels, but unfortunately, the turtle is in trouble.
Gordon Ryan has recently released his guide to attacking the turtle entitled, Systematically Attacking the Turtle Position, and it is quite extensive. Packed with every tool you could possibly think of to dismantle the turtle, Ryan has compiled an incredibly comprehensive blueprint to cracking this popular position. Ryan states that he was planning to attack the turtle and the back all in one instructional, but the King had amassed more than 30 hours of material, so we’ll get the turtle first on its own. You can find plenty of examples of Ryan attacking the position at the highest levels against the biggest names and witness his knowledge at work. He works incrementally to off balance and open up space, putting his opponents at risk and ultimately opening up pathways to the back.
In this video, Ryan explains to us the difference between the goals of the turtle in wrestling and in jiu-jitsu, from both attacking and defensive perspectives. If you’re new to grappling and have not yet been educated on these concepts, this is a great watch. Here, Ryan will explain the advantages and disadvantages of the position and give us an idea on how to proceed. This is a great precursor the to the series. Take a look!
At the opening of the video, we get some information from Ryan on the different goals of the turtle as they pertain to wrestling and jiu-jitsu. In wrestling the goal of the top player would be to open the turtle in a manner that allows them to expose their opponent’s back to the mat. This creates a situation where a pin can be achieved and the match can be won. On the opposite end of the spectrum an exit from the turtle can be achieved in a few different ways, including sitting out, or even standing up. But many of these methods do not translate to jiu-jitsu, as they allow access to hooks and upper body controls.
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When we’re speaking in terms of BJJ, the top players goal will be to expose the back to themselves, not the mat. Essentially in the turtle, this has already taken place, but the shell of the position must be cracked so that different elements of control can be added to the situation. This is where things get a little tricky.
As Ryan explains, there are generally 2 different methods of using the turtle for the bottom player. One being a posture where the hands and knees are wide and another where everything is very closed off and tucked in tight. When the hands and knees are wide, this offers the turtle player an incredible amount of stability and balance. But there is a tradeoff. Along with the structure and balance that a more open turtle provides, it also leaves gaping holes that allow for the entry of hooks and upper body controls, even the possibility of a neck attack.
The tighter variation of the turtle does a great job at eliminating these holes and preventing some threats but again here there is a price to pay in the form of our balance. With a tighter turtle we do not have the same elements of stability and we can be moved quite easily. As Ryan states, in BJJ this is probably the most common posture we see with the turtle as most BJJ players are looking to stop the acquisition of controls and hooks.
Ryan describes the goal of attacking this closed position as breaking his opponent down to an “unathletic” position. This is a great way to look at this situation. From the turtle, as Ryan explains, his opponent is poised and ready to move explosively and to a more advantageous position. Ryan demonstrates how breaking his partner down to one hip steals this ability from him.
When Ryan breaks his partner down to a hip, he now has created a scenario where he knows exactly what paths must be taken to recover. If his partner chooses to travel all the way down to his shoulder, he’ll have to accept a top position, such as side control. If he stays on his elbow, he has now become vulnerable to the back attack. Lastly, if Ryan’s partner would like to return to the turtle, he must scissor his legs to do so. This scissoring action allows Ryan access to the bottom hook and again puts his partner in trouble.
As you can probably gather, this is just merely the tip of the iceberg. Ryan has assembled a collection of techniques and concepts in this series that will detail every turtle situation you’ll encounter and the prescribed pathway to conquer them all. This is not one to be missed Systematically Attacking The Turtle By Gordon Ryan available now!