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Knee on Belly Attacks: Basics & Techniques

Knee on Belly Attacks: Basics & Techniques


Knee on belly is an extremely popular position in Jiu Jitsu, rightfully so.  Whether you’re passing directly to knee on belly or transitioning from side control to knee on belly, it is a great position to maintain control and open up various submission opportunities. There is a multitude of attacks from knee on belly and many of them have been utilized at the highest levels of competition.  Getting comfortable in your knee on belly will help you gain a more offensive game, there are so many possibilities from this position.

The knee on belly is a fundamental position in BJJ, yet most athletes struggle to implement a strong knee on belly attack game.  The key is the basic concepts of control.  No one does it better when it comes to fundamentals then Bernardo Faria.


Knee on belly can be used very well to establish a good submission game and to force your opponent to expose themselves when they are being tight.  Sometimes when you are able to get to side control or mount, you may have an opponent that just shells up very tight and they won't expose themselves.  It is very difficult to attack someone who is being 100% defensive and this is the perfect opportunity to go on knee on belly.  This position will force your opponent to react because it is much worse to be stuck in knee on belly then side control. 

Setting up Knee on Belly Attacks:

If you have passed someone’s guard and applied pressure from the side mount, sometimes your opponent may shell up and play an extremely defensive game.   In order to open up some attacks, transitioning to knee on belly can be a great option as mentioned above.  Many Black Belt world champions such as Marcelo Garcia, the Mendes Brothers and others play a pressure based game, but also use mobility to open up submission opportunities while in transition.

  For example, if you’ve passed someone’s guard and applied pressure from side control but your opponent won’t give you any openings, transitioning to knee on belly may force him to extend his limbs, open up his neck, or present other submissions.  Furthermore, if you are in full mount and choose to revert back to knee on belly because your opponent won’t give you any submission opportunities, he may open up in transition and you may be able to capitalize on an opportunity.  The Mendes brothers are infamous for playing an extremely mobile game where they are constantly transitioning from position to position even after they’ve passed the guard in order to catch an opportunity during the transitional period. 

Transitional attacks can be some of the best attacks that there is.  IF you are able to get to knee on belly and keep moving you will be able to force some type of opening.  The bad side of knee on belly is that it requires more balance then being in side control or mount.  A lot of people do not like to play knee on belly for this reason.  They feel that they are more vulnerable to attacks if they go here because they can get swept.  Learning how to maintain knee on belly can be an art in itself. Check out the video below on the three most common mistakes people make from this position. 

As you can see knee on belly is very easy to mess up and there are a lot of details that need to be addressed.  Knee on belly should be considered a more advanced method of control.  It is not for everyone.  One of the biggest benefits to playing knee on belly is going to be the mobility that you have.  You are on your feet so you can easily go from side to side, knee on belly to mount, north south, and keep moving so your opponent is forced to do something. 

In Jiu Jitsu some of the best competitors are going to attack you in transition.  What this means is that as they sweep you, they will expect you to defend the sweep by exposing a limb, as they pass, they will anticipate a movement and capitalize.  This is a more advanced train of thought and it is much easier said than done, but it is an important concept to implement in your bjj game.  Knee on belly is an excellent place to attack from because you force movement.

Forcing movement is SO important that is why keep repeating it, check out this video below that is describing exactly what we are referring to with knee on belly, it is an amazing video. 


Various Knee on Belly Attacks and Submissions:

Whether you have chosen to go to knee on belly because you could not find an opening from side mount or full mount, or you have passed directly to knee on belly, there are several different submissions that may present themselves.   From knee on belly, the attacks are endless, but some infamous submissions are the near side armbar, the far side armbar, the cross choke, the baseball bat choke, the triangle choke, and many more.  There are also several back takes and attacks to advance your position.  Below you will find a short instructional from multiple time Black Belt World Champion, Caio Terra and his training partner, Samir Chantre where they show an extremely effective cross choke from knee on belly and very slick back take!  Hopefully this will help you work your knee on belly attacks.

Knee on belly can also be an extremely difficult position to deal with.  It can be extremely uncomfortable as well when someone is really trying to apply pressure from knee on belly, if you need to sharpen your escapes, check out 5x World Champion, Bernardo Faria’s “Escapes From Everywhere” DVD.  It can be an incredible resource to helping your escapes.  A confident offense stems from confidence in your defense.


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