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Getting the Back from Turtle
Stay on the offensive when they turtle up
The turtle position in Jiu Jitsu is a unique circumstance in that many people will utilize it to escape various positions and even though it subjects them to a very high risk of getting their back taken. Although back taking is often taught from the top turtle position, it can occasionally prove difficult to attain while live rolling. Most players will tighten up to prevent hooks and make movement difficult for the top player giving the defender the initiative and therefore being the grappler one step ahead.
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A common way people will end up in the top turtle position is by sprawling on a takedown attempt forcing the other grappler to collapse and get in the defensive position. Usually most people will start attacking using a front headlock position and move from there. In order to get to the back, the top player must rotate to the side or hip of the defender. Unfortunately, this can aid the bottom player because they can now put an under hook in and sit back to the guard.
It is vital to find a way to circle around the defending player that is quick, forcible, and allows disarms the defender from getting an under hook. In the following video, Professor John Danaher explains a very effective way or transitioning to a back-taking position in turtle from the front headlock.
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I prefer this hand blocking transitioning as opposed to the standard rotation because it prevents the defender from gaining an under hook. When attempting this technique, it is necessary to angle oneself slightly towards the side they plan to move to prior to setting the hand block because if they don’t, they will twist themselves an cause balancing and mobility issues. Also, be aware that a huge amount of weight must be placed on the defenders back when rotating to keep them cautious of moving.
After successfully rotating to the back, there are two main positions the top player can hold. One position is a hip to hip parallel position and the other is almost exactly in the rear with a strong waist hold. Both are viable and successful options as the back can be taken from either.