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Escaping the Mount with Extreme Efficiency by John Danaher
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Escaping the Mount with Extreme Efficiency by John Danaher

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Escaping the mount may be the most important lesson in all of BJJ.

In many cases it’s the selling point for why someone should begin training, I’ve seen countless sets of eyes light up and minds begin to churn with curiosity while witnessing the escape for the first time. The truth is, from a self defense standpoint, escaping the mount may be the most important thing you’ll ever learn. And if you were going to teach someone off the street one BJJ technique, and they had plans to never come back, this might be the one.

Not only is the escape important in the self -defense realm, it also offers us several ideas on mechanics and basic principles that you’ll find everywhere in BJJ. Its an incredibly relevant theme that will always be a cornerstone of any student’s journey.

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There are different forms of escaping the mount. You have your traditional hip escape, and of course the bridging style escapes where you attempt to roll your partner over. Both of these have evolved over the years to adapt to different situations, and the variety is staggering. However as elaborate as these techniques may get, they will always contain properties of these fundamental ideas.

So, how does one of the most prolific BJJ Professors of all time want you to escape the mount? John Danaher shares his principles and methods with us in this half hour video. I promise it’s worth your time. Danaher has a way of shedding an incredibly large amount of light on a subject you may have thought you knew all about. He’ll help you see thigs you’ve been missing, and answer your questions on elusive details you’ve been missing out on for years. And if you’re a beginner, he will right the ship for you before it gets off course. But you have to watch. Check this out!

Danaher begins with referencing his last installment on escaping side control. In that video he references this idea of wedges. The top player is creating a series of wedges around our body, and these wedges manifest themselves into forms of various pins. These pins make it difficult for us to escape, and depending on the level of proficiency of our partner, it can seem as though we never will. So, Danaher’s secret to escaping is to unlock these wedges, undoing what’s been done to begin our exit.

The wedges used to pin us in the mount are different than in the side control. They are focused more on the hips, rather than the upper body, and this makes escaping the mount a different task than escaping from side control.

The Shrimp –

Do you warm up daily with a shrimping exercise? Perhaps you begin class by doing a length of the mat shrimp. Or maybe with a partner giving you slight resistance. Maybe you just warm up with shrimping in place. How present and aware are you about what you’re actually doing? Danaher touts shrimping as the main component of bottom game jiu-jitsu. Ill say that again. In The shrimp is the most important element of your bottom game jiu-jitsu. That is HUGE. So, are you just going through the motions, or do you place great importance on this movement when its being performed?

The Sliding Shrimp –

The first method of shrimping Danaher presents to us is the sliding shrimp. This may be the method of shrimping that you’re most familiar with. In this movement, Danaher plants his foot on the outside of his hipline and uses his top leg to escape his hips to level of his shoulder line. Done properly his entire body excluding his shoulder and foot will rise off the mat and move. This creates distance between him and his partner and allows him to begin to recover his guard.

The Power Shrimp –

While the sliding shrimp is undoubtedly important, Danaher states its not THE most important movement when we’re trying to escape the mount. Enter the power shrimp.

First let’s fix our bridge. For a proper bridge, Danaher brings his feet in close to his butt. He then begins his bridging movement up on to one shoulder. On the same side as the bridge, he allows his knee to connect tot eh floor. This is an indicator that were doing it properly. He’s also sure to keep his bottom elbow tight to his body. Performing a proper bridge will displace your opponent’s weight, affording you the ability to elbow escape and recompose your guard. This is the power shrimp, and combining with 2 sliding shrimps is Danaher’s suggestion for a proper mount escape.

So, one of the first lessons we’re learning here is that the sliding shrimp alone is not the way out of the mount. As Danaher demonstrates, he can continue to attempt to shrimp in this manner and his partner will continue to maintain mount without the real threat of the position coming undone. We must implement the power shrimp first to begin escaping. Here’s how Danaher does it.

Beginning with what Danaher refers to as a box frame, he mirrors his partners belt across the waist and then reinforces that frame with his other hand. The elbow of the second frame rides inside of his partners knee. This is a sufficient structure that will serve as the beginning of the escape.

So, here’s where the trouble may begin for many of us. With a good frame in place, Danaher begins to perform the sliding shrimp motion. As he moves around the mat, there are no results, and is partner remains stuck to him. Why can’t he get out? He’s started with the wrong type of movement.

By beginning the escape with the power shrimping movement, Danaher can bridge to one shoulder, invert his knee, and make contact with the mat. This allows him to post on the inside of his partners knee and then perform a hip escape. His inverted now shrinks into the space under his partner and emerges on the other side of his partners knee, in front of his leg. Danaher can now plant his foot and employ another series of sliding shrimping motions in order to travel back to his guard and secure his partner.

See anything you’ve been missing? Even with a heavy cross face, a good base, and tight control of the hips, Danaher is able to make the escape work. Why? Because of the order of these important shrimping motions he’s been refereeing to. If you’ve only been attempting the sliding shrimp to assist you in getting out of the mount, you’ve probably not had much success. Look at how critical the power shrimping movement is to this particular escape. It can’t be ignored.

Don’t skip the detail about the placement of the bottom hand either. As Danaher states, giving up an under hook at this juncture would be detrimental to the completion of the escape. Keep the fingers pointing away and your elbow tight to your side. This will create a wedge inside your partner’s leg that will be very tough to penetrate.

With the amount of experience Danaher has amassed he somehow always manages to tell us how we may have previously learned a technique. And in this case, it rings true with me. Getting on to my side, working to get my bottom knee under the leg, and possibly capturing my partners foot with my own top leg. This is almost the exact blueprint for how I first learned the escape. And as Danaher suggests, this particular variation has come with some small amount of success.

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Danaher suggests this kind of escape as more of a transitional technique. As someone is attempting to travel to the mounted position, this type of escape may be utilized. But any top player with a level of proficiency that has settled in to the mount position, will not be thwarted by this type of escape. It would require them to have their feet away from our body in the mount, and that’s just not going to happen. When the top player has proper position (ankles locked and tucked tight under our body) this type of escape is simply hopeless.

I have to say one of my biggest takeaways is the idea of penetrating the knee in behind the leg of the top player. Trying to dig under the shin in a case where someone is really trying to pin me down from the mount has certainly been difficult and often impossible.

The ideas here are truly battle tested. Its evident in the high level of Danaher’s students. Maybe you do 80% of the things in the video, and picked up a game changing 20%. Maybe you do none of these things, and this blew your mind! And quite possibly you’ve been doing your own variation of this escape for years, and have achieved wild success with it. Whatever the case may be, this is an incredibly sound method of performing the hip escape that no matter your level, you can benefit.

The video closes with a talk about the fundamentals of BJJ. Depending on where your fundamentals came from and the amount of time you truly spent on them, will have great deal to do with your success later. If you’re new to BJJ and still shaping and studying your fundamentals, dig for the best information possible. Its easy to create bad habits and carry them with you for the duration of your journey. Now is a great time to spend a healthy amount of mat time sharpening and adding value to your basics.

For the old dogs. If you started BJJ better than a decade ago or more, maybe you didn’t have access to the best knowledge at the time, and you’ve created some bad habits, or deal with some inefficiency in the case of your technique. Its never too late to go back in and tweak your fundamental knowledge. Some of us can get set in our ways, but its important as a student of BJJ to always review and evaluate your technique. Especially the fundamentals. By changing one small detail or correcting one bad habit can cause a chain reaction in your entire game, adding a great deal of value to your technique.

As we age, we must strive for efficiency. As our athleticism and strength begins to fail us, technique is all we will be left with, and if it is sound you will be granted many more enjoyable years on the mat. But if you’ve been relying on your attributes for years, this time will not be quite as pleasant. Take the time to adjust your technique and make sure its mechanically sound.

My family owns a very old piece of property in Canada. On that property there is an old boathouse, built almost 100 years ago. Time has taken its toll on the structure, and it was in danger of collapsing in to the lake. Had this happened, new laws in the province would have prevented us from rebuilding this historic land mark of the lake in its original spot. We decided it needed to be saved, but this would be no easy task. The entire bottom of the boathouse would have to be removed from underneath the second floor. We would have to re build the first floor, and then set the original second story back atop the new structure.

A crew of men came in, cut the second story away from the first story and jacked it up in to the air. We came in next and rebuilt the entire first story with new materials, all with the second floor above our heads. It was an arduous task, but we managed to complete the job in about 2 weeks. The crew came back and set the top floor back down on the new structure we had built. A tense moment for sure, but we had been successful. In the end we were rewarded with a much stronger structure that could remain in its original spot, and would now stand strong for generations to come.

You see what Im getting at here? Keep an open mind, and always be willing to go back in and rebuild. Good luck.

John Danaher is changing the jiu-jitsu game with his amazing grappling instruction. And, BJJ Fanatics has just that. Get Danaher's DVD " Front Head Locks: Enter The System" and learn from one of the best in the game! Check it out here!

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