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Three Battle Tested Methods to Make an Exit from the Back Mount Position

Three Battle Tested Methods to Make an Exit from the Back Mount Position


Escaping the back is a fundamental concept in BJJ. We learn it early, and its important that we add it to our tool box in our very first months of training.

Being that the back mount is a flagship position in BJJ, this basic theme must not be ignored.

Have you ever been in someone’s back control that’s really good? It can feel like you have a backpack full of lead strapped to you. Especially early on in our training when we’re still a bit green and naïve to the ideas of escape, this feeling can be exacerbated by inexperience.

Learn the half guard from one of the top specialists in the game, Jake Mackenzie!


One of the things I see the most when watching more inexperienced players attempting to escape is the endless cycle of continuing roll belly down over and over again. This only creates a scenario where you are followed endlessly around the mat until your opponent is able to secure a submission.

It’s important that when we begin escaping the back that our efforts are focused on scraping our opponent’s off of our back. Simply put, we want to create a situation where we can disconnect our back from our opponent’s chest and get it connected to the mat. Once we understand this concept and begin to implement proper ways of escaping, w can then begin to enjoy the other avenues that escaping the back might offer. Such as snagging submissions on our way out, transitioning to our favorite guards, and so on.

We have to be careful when escaping the back mount, as there are opportunities for our opponent’s during escaping that expose us to other dangers. You may get mounted, you may put yourself into another variation of back control, you may give your opponent the chance to reacquire the back. These are just examples of certain pitfalls you may encounter when escaping. It's important to take care of the little things as we escape, so that we can successfully leave the position behind and end up in favorable spot at the completion of our escape.

Let’s look at some methods of escaping the back from a few different sources. They will undoubtedly have some commonalities that we will observe, but the techniques will also vary from player to player. See if you can pick up on some of these themes and maybe in the process discover some new details that may help you become a little more proficient at exiting the back position.

Let’s start basic with a fundamental back escape from Stephen Whittier. Have a look!

Whittier begins with some ideas on posture and positioning when in danger of having his back controlled. He crosses his hands to either side of his neck, keeping himself ready to intercept any attempts at getting to his neck. He also brings his knees up toward his body, creating tension, and making it difficult for his partner to get comfortable.

From this seated position, Whittier plays a little game with his partner. AS his partner tries to gain ground, Whittier hand fights, and tries to keep his partner from acquiring anything that may help him advance. If his partner does so, they reset and begin again. I really like this idea, as it will give us some experience with hand fighting and increase our awareness when trying to stay safe here.

As Whittier chooses a side to fall to, he also simultaneously rotates, getting the back of his head and shoulders to the mat and ultimately scraping his partner off. Whittier is essentially out of danger at this point. The only thing left to consider is where his partner will choose to go next, and that he stays ahead of that decision.

There are some great preliminary ideas here. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the idea of not allowing our opponents to connect their hands and achieve a seatbelt grip. If we can stave off the establishing of a seatbelt, the escape will be much easier. Keep this in mind and work to prevent the seatbelt.

Now that we have some basic ideas in the forefront, let’s look at a back escape transition. This particular transition comes to us from Jake Mackenzie. Here he shows us how to transition to the deep half guard as we depart the back control. Check this out!

With his partner attached to his back and a seatbelt grip in place, Mackenzie pays close attention to the over hook arm, securing to grips. One near his partners hand, and another above the elbow. Mackenzie then falls to the over hook side, keeps his top knee tight to prevent the second hook, and begins to use his top instep to dig inside of his partner’s hook. As he extends his instep away, he creates a space to thread his opposite knee through. As his hips clear his partner’s bottom leg, he looks to encapsulate his partner’s top leg with his guard, and thread his hand under the top leg.

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As his partner begins to give up on the seatbelt, and any other hopes of reacquiring the back or transitioning, he begins to come up. This naturally creates a deep half guard scenario for Mackenzie, and he can now begin to play his game from here.

This is so smooth and so natural looking that it just begs to be implemented. Escaping the back provides a perfect route to enter the deep half guard. These positions make a great pairing.

So, we’ve seen a basic escape with no seatbelt grip locked, and a transition to deep half guard from the back escape. Now let’s look at an escape when we find ourselves on the over hook side. Traditionally this is the preferred side to establish back control, so knowing what to do when we find ourselves here is of huge importance. This video comes to us from Lachlan Giles, have a look!

Beginning on the under hook side, Giles first demonstrates a very similar escape to Mackenzie’s. He even uses that top hook to clear his knee, but he’s not looking to transition to deep half, and reacquisition of the back is much easier here. So, Giles opts to use a different method of getting free.

From the over hook side, Giles first secures his partner’s over hook to make sure there’s no threat of a choke. As his partner disconnects his hands to hand fight or to try and work toward a choke, Giles take the opportunity to remove his head and bring it to the other side of his partner’s over hook. From here there is a threat that must be considered. This is the locking of a figure four grip and all of the dangers that come with it.

To stop this option, Giles relinquishes his original grip on the over hook and grabs up near the triceps, locking his elbow down tight. This stops his partner from acquiring the figure four. Giles’ partner will now likely try to transition to the mount. As he does this, Giles simply blocks the top leg, and brings his knees in tight to his body, causing his partner to land squarely on his butterfly hooks. Giles is now out of danger and can continue working from the guard.

Three different scenarios, three equally efficient methods of turning a bad situation into an opportunity. Thanks for reading! Good luck!

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