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Fix Your Broken Elbow Escape With John Danaher

Fix Your Broken Elbow Escape With John Danaher

There is no disputing, whether you prefer sport Jiu Jitsu, Self Defense Jiu Jitsu, or simply feel, as many do that Jiu Jitsu is Jiu Jitsu and when trained properly the vast majority of techniques are transferable from the mats, to the streets, and vice versa, that being mounted is not a good place to be.  

In a tournament it means you have just given up the maximum amount of points typically 4, and rightfully so, the mount position is a position of power where it becomes much less work for the attacker to  impose their will on you, and much more effort is required by you to start working on any type of escape because of the chore of having to move all of your opponent’s weight in addition to your own, and trying to defend attacks and not give up anything that could be an advantage for the opponent.  

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In the street being mounted means the same things essentially, but with the added threat that there are no rules. The attacker can use strikes, weapons, and any means they choose to inflict harm on you.  The worst part about being mounted in a street fight situation is on top of being extremely vulnerable, there is no “tap out”. That’s right, in a street fight the only thing that ends the fight is either the attacker’s satisfaction that they have inflicted enough pain, or your ability to take control and escape.  Now I don’t know about you, but personally, I’d much prefer to be the one in control of that situation to ensure I survive, and ideally keep all of my teeth in the process.

The mount is one of the fundamental positions in Jiu Jitsu, it would not be surprising if you were exposed to it on your first day of training, but if not, likely within your first few classes.  As a fundamental position in Jiu Jitsu, we must not only learn how to maintain such a dominant position when we are able to achieve it, but also how to escape it when others achieve the position on us.  When looking at such an important position, it makes sense to put our trust in the teachings of Professor John Danaher in his breakdown “How To Do The Perfect Mount Escape”, which comes from his new fundamentals series titled Pin Escapes & Turtle Escapes: BJJ Fundamentals – Go Further Faster”.  Afterall, Professor Danaher has seen his systematic approach to Jiu Jitsu rise to the highest levels of success as his athletes are performing at the highest levels in the sport and dominating.

In order to understand how to escape the mount, we must first understand the mount position and what makes it possible to maintain so we know what we must fight in order to escape.  In order to achieve an ideal mount position your shins should be used as wedged around the opponent’s hips, with your feet touching, or even crossed under your opponent. These wedges are the primary wedges that must be maintained.  There is a secondary wedge for additional control that can be used if necessary or when possible. The secondary wedge is a cross face, placing one arm under the opponent’s head, and putting us in position to drive our shoulder into the opponent’s face, for added control and discomfort.  If you opt to use this additional wedge you must also base out on your other hand in order to prevent the opponent from bridging in the direction or the cross face (to do the cross face properly you essentially trap your own arm for the opponent).

Before diving into the hip escape Professor Danaher breaks down the body movement required to execute a proper elbow escape.  Shrimping is not only key for this escape, but it is essential for developing your entire bottom game in Jiu Jitsu. Professor Danaher breaks down 2 different types of shrimping that he encourages everyone to “study”.

The first of the two is the sliding shrimp.  In order to execute the sliding shrimp properly we need to bring one foot close to our hips and slightly on the outside of our hips.  As we bridge, the only parts of the body still touching the mat should be the foot we planted slightly outside of our hip and our opposite shoulder.  When executed properly the hip line should change from horizontal (parallel to the mats) to vertical (perpendicular to the mats) and the hips should be driven back to where our shoulder line was when we started.  If done properly, you should end a position similar to what Professor Danaher is showing below. My estimation is the more your shrimp looks like this, the more likely you are to have success with it. This is what “perfect” looks like.

Video below (time 6:30) – in case you are more of a visual person and want to watch this technique a few times to identify opportunities in your shrimp game.

Professor Danaher expresses multiple times his frustration with shrimping being used as a warm up, only when it is done in a lazy way without focus on each rep being perfect.  Take the time to focus on each rep if or when this is a warm up at your academy, remember, it’s not a race to get done first, it’s a journey to develop your game as perfectly as possible.

The second shrimp Professor Danaher would like us to focus on is called a “power shrimp” and it is imperative to the success of this technique.  Essentially what we are looking for is starting with a single shoulder bridge coupled with a shrimp. It is common to for grapplers to bridge back on both shoulders and then try to turn onto one shoulder.  This simply is not strong and can easily fail. To be successful at the bridge we must bring our feet close to our butt for maximum power, and bridge back to one shoulder. If done correctly, your knee should touch the mat, and your elbow on the same side should be tucked in near your ribs.

“If you learn nothing else from this video, learn this.  The first movement of a good elbow escape is a good power shrimp, and then it is followed immediately with two sliding shrimps” – Professor John Danaher

Starting with the wrong type of body movement will do nothing besides wear you out as you spend energy attempting to execute a sliding shrimp when a power shrimp is what is needed.  Continuing to attempt the sliding shrimp results in you turning in a circular motion and the opponent simply “riding” along with you ultimately exerting very little energy and simply waiting for you to exhaust yourself.

Done properly, we must first build our frames.  Our frame should consist of one arm across the opponent’s belt line, followed by our second had supporting that frame by reinforcing it at the hand or wrist to keep it strong – this is referred to as a box frame.  From here we can trap the opponent’s leg, pointing our toes away slightly, using our planted foot, and our frame we are able to execute a power shrimp, allowing us to invert the knee of the leg that was trapping the opponent’s leg.  As we do this, we bring our foot between the opponent’s legs, and drop our hand that was being used in our box frame as the arm across the belt and use that hand to push the opponent’s knee downward.

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Between this motion and moving our leg back to being between the opponent’s legs we should be able to create enough space to bring our knee on the inside of the opponent’s thigh.  This then allows us to come back to our back and then a sliding shrimp towards the leg we just brought into the inside at which point we are now facing the opposite direction allowing the first leg we brought in to wrap over the opponent’s back as the first half of our full guard we are trying to regain.  A second sliding shrimp in the opposite direction of the first sliding shrimp will create the space we need to get our second leg out and then around the opponent’s leg and joining our opposite leg wrapped around the opponent at which point we can lock our feet as we have regained our full guard position.

When pushing on the opponent’s knee, ensure your fingers are pointing down.  If you were to push on the opponent’s knee with your fingers facing up you will essentially give up the under hook on that side, essentially shutting down our progress and forcing us to look at a different path.  

Another thing to note that is not mentioned, but clear to anyone watching the breakdown.  At every step, when possible, Professor Danaher is controlling Professor Faria’s posture by continually pulling the back of his head or neck down towards the mat.

Professor Danaher also takes a moment to breakdown why the typical mount escape we are most taught does not work in the real world, or to use his words “against a 6 time world champion”.  The reality of Jiu Jitsu, especially in competition is that anyone with any skill will not leave their ankles in a vulnerable position to allow us to penetrate under them with our knees, as so many of us were taught.  On the same note, it’s not likely the opponent will leave both arms on the mat on each side of your head, just waiting for you to grab one of them and pull it in. The more likely reality is that the opponent will immediately cross their ankles upon getting to mount and hide their feet from your reach, and work for an aggressive cross face forcing a lot of shoulder pressure into the side of your face.  Continually trying to dig a knee under can seem hopeless at this point. That’s why starting with off balancing the opponent is imperative.

As with everything in Jiu Jitsu repetition is key.  Now that you have all of the details of the elbow escape, it’s important to get some mat time in drilling this technique the proper way to rebuild the muscle memory and make this escape second nature.  Depending on your skill set or rank, you may be able to do this while working with lower ranks during live training. This is a good opportunity for you to allow them to get you in a bad position and work on the new escape details we covered in this breakdown.  If you are not at that level yet, or even if you are, it can’t hurt, drill the technique. Make some time to drill this technique properly. When drilling, focus on quality of reps, not quantity. Sure, there are certainly times where sheer rep count matters, mostly for cardio drilling, or bench pressing, but when we are trying to perfect a fundamental part of our game, slow is smooth and smooth is fast.  Start slow, build the right foundation and then we can begin speeding it up. As a final note, when drilling make it increasingly more realistic with each rep. Ask your training partner to put more pressure on you, resist a little more, drive the cross face a little harder. As you get more and more comfortable with the technique, making it more realistic will be extremely helpful when it comes to using the technique in live training.

This breakdown is only minutes of Professor Danaher’s new fundamentals series titled “Pin Escapes & Turtle Escapes: BJJ Fundamentals – Go Further Faster”.  Let that sink in for a minute.  There is over 10 hours of material on this video instructional.  Imagine all of the details, secrets, and tips that were previously reserved only for the elite athlete luck enough to be trained by Professor Danaher, now available to all of us, in a format we can watch, re-watch, and truly study each detail of each technique.  

The amazing John Danaher has released his first DVD in the Gi! Check out his DVD "Go Further Faster: Pin Escapes and Turtle Escapes". This fundamental DVD will give you the technique and insight to get to a higher level in the sport and second, to reduce the time ordinarily taken to get there. Check it out here!

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