Essential Escape Concepts

Essential Escape Concepts

BJJ escapes are probably the first area of one's game that you will begin to notice a distinct weakness in as you begin to amass knowledge.  We spend the vast majority of our training time focused on learning more and more techniques and positions that we will spend our time trying to put our opponent's and training partners into that we may forget to look at it from the other side of the coin and ask ourselves what in the world will we do when someone uses all of those moves that we are working on against us. 

That first time you find yourself stuck in side control and have no clue how to get out is a very eye opening experience.  The position is known as the 100 kilos position for a reason as it can feel like someone has parked an SUV on you to keep you stapled to the ground.  Or that first time it his you that you have no clue how to get out of someone's back mount and you know that any hand fighting you do is simply delaying the inevitable choke, you will realize that learning and drilling some escapes has to be a high priority if you're going to survive.

Learning to escape every position or every submission you could find yourself in can be a daunting thought.  Trying to wrap your head around every bad position you can end up in will simply make you feel overwhelmed and demotivated.  Here are the most important positions to focus on to begin building your escape arsenal.

The Mount

From a self defense perspective, being mounted is easily one of the most dangerous places to because an opponent or attacker can be sitting on one's abdomen or sternum area putting incredible pressure and weight down while also having the ability to base out one's arms and maintain that position, allowing them to strike us at will.

Some of the things to think about when you find yourself in the mount is to keep their hips as low as possible close to your own hips.  This gives you the best opportunity to explode into them and possibly catch them off base.  Another thing you must be cognizant of is the protection of your arms and neck.  They must be kept tight with your hands ready to address any hands coming into your collar to choke you.  Getting to your side can also be beneficial to alleviate pressure and create space for your hips to escape, but you must be aware of their ability to shift to a "technical mount" position.

Your escape will be predicated on your ability to manipulate your hips in relation to theirs.  Whether you are able to upa and debase them, allowing you to capture an arm in a classic trap and roll style escape, or put their hips below yours to elbow escape, the ability to control their body while moving yours will be pivotal to get the heck out of there.

The Back

It is debatable which position is more dangerous, being mounted or having one's back taken.  When an opponent has your back and has control of your hips with their legs and feet (hooks) and free usage of their arms which may be controlling your upper body with a seat belt grip or they may be controlling your wrists from underneath your armpits, there are few feelings that inspire more hopelessness.

The things you need to think about again revolve around your hips.  You've got to create a way out of the back position.  This could be addressing the hooks to create a sliver of hope that you can then capitalize on by driving your hips into your opponent and your back to the floor.  Then by properly gripping the opponent to stop them from regaining their hooks, you will be able to manipulate your body away from them.

Side Control

Side control may not inspire the same feelings of desperation that mount and back control can inspire, but there are few things that inspire despair as much as having a strong, heavy opponent who has excellent side control skills shift their weight and having their way with your neck and limbs while you are incapacitated.

Using your arms and hips properly are keys to most escapes, but no more are they more important than in your side control escape attempts.  You absolutely must work to establish a frame to help keep some of the weight and pressure of your opponent off of your body.  There is nothing as empowering as a strong forearm frame running across the collar bone and throat of an opponent trying to smash you.  This tiny reprieve from the pressure can be the make or break it moment that allows you to utilize your hips and begin to make space to escape or establish guard.

For more on the importance of developing a strong and varied escape arsenal, check out this article from BJJ Fanatics here.

 In the short video below, the legendary Renzo Gracie explains a very simple escape from the side control position.  The tips he shares seem obvious and like common sense, but that is the enigma of jiu jitsu.  We sometimes never notice the obvious and our true common sense reaction is sometimes the worst thing we can do.  Training BJJ is also training ourselves to react differently than our common sense would have us react.

 Notice again in the video how important the frame is for Master Renzo.  By placing his arms incorrectly as a young student just starting out, he would find himself stuck in this position.  It wasn't until he began to utilize the frame across the throat that he began to escape from the much larger opponent's side control, even though he was much smaller.

Now that we have explored some of the key elements crucial in escaping the three most important positions, it's time to take a look at your own game.  Are you ready to begin learning the escape encyclopedia of one of the OGs of submission grappling, Dean Lister?  For only $77 today, you can all of his favorite submission and position escape techniques in his "Worry Free Escapes" 4 DVD instructional package!