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The Art of the Escape
Take a look at one of the best submission escapes on record.
Truly an amazing display of cat and mouse, this exchange between Kron Gracie and Garry Tonon made me jump out of my chair the first time I saw it. It’s impressive on both ends. Kron pursues the armbar to the best of his ability, transitioning to several different forms of the attack, but just can’t seem to achieve a solid bite for the finish. Garry’s acrobatic and amazingly timed escape sequences are awe inspiring.
Can this kind of wizardry be taught? You can break down his escape sequence to a T, and drill every aspect of it, but what’s really at work here?
Escaping a high-level attack requires something very important. Experience. Not necessarily competition experience, or live training experience, that’s not what I’m getting at. The willingness to gain knowledge of great escapes requires that you put yourself in the frying pan on a regular basis and expose yourself to great attacks.
Often, the training mindset is to win. If the mindset is to learn rather than win, that’s when we can open the doorways to different levels of proficiency. We hear this a lot, but do you listen?
Being a smaller practicioner, my defense and escapes we’re the first aspects of my game to become proficient. And I’m totally ok with saying that to this day, it’s still probably the most solid part of my game. Why? Because I spent so much damn time in unfavorable positions over the course of my journey it was just a natural part of my progression. It was not a choice for me though. It was a matter of necessity.
Have you ever seen someone that only smashes other people at the academy compete for the first time? It’s likely that in this scenario if the tables are turned on this particular BJJ player the results are catastrophic. I’ve seen people tap from pressure, give up because they’re out of breath, and even concede to a tap just to get out of the match. The fact is, they enjoyed their dominant role at the academy too much. They we’re not willing to put themselves in uncomfortable situations to better their understanding of escapes and staying calm under duress. Being on the other end of someone’s barrage of attacks and pressure isn’t so fun when you’ve never been there before. Especially in a setting where the other person is not concerned with your comfort. If you’re not willing to put yourself in these predicaments willingly, you should reconsider your approach.
When we watch athletes like Garry Tonon, we see the end result. We witness the glory and the amazing moments of their careers. We’re not behind the scenes for the hours and hours of sacrifice, and hard work that creates this kind of legendary skill. Be honest with yourself and make changes to your training that will propel you to the next level. If you’re not sure what to do, I’ll bet there’s someone close by that does. Seek them out and get started today.
Inspired by Garry Tonon's epic escape in the ADCC match with Kron Gracie? Then check out the guy who taught Garry everything he knows, Tom DeBlass' 4 volume Submission Escape Series! You can get it here.