Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that places a lot of emphasis on positional work. Being able to dominate someone using pins and transitions can ensure victory in matches that use points. This means that getting stuck on the bottom is a major red flag and should be mitigated at all costs. Today we will discuss some of the best ways to escape the mount and side control – two of the most commonly used pins in Jiu-Jitsu.
The Guard And Being Stuck On The Bottom
Before we go over our recommended techniques, we should first establish that playing the guard does not mean you are losing, especially in a BJJ match. The guard is a highly effective position that can generate many attacking opportunities like sweeps, submissions, and back takes. If you have to play bottom for whatever reason, you must go to guard always. This is why the guard is regarded as a must-learn skill from the white belt level onwards.
If you are new to BJJ, the easiest way to know if you are in an inferior position when playing the bottom game is when you are not playing any form of guard, or worse, are stuck under strong pins like mount, side control, knee on belly, or north-south. If pinned down, you must immediately focus on escaping the position while keeping yourself safe from transitionary submissions.
This is, of course, easier said than done. You will definitely spend many hours on the bottom in your first months of BJJ training. Don’t fret; we will give you a couple of solid escapes soon.
To kick things off, let’s begin with the bottom mount. The bottom mount is a terrible position because you lie directly below someone’s body weight with your head exposed to strikes and submissions. Getting the mount (top position) is favorable in all forms of grappling, including mixed martial arts, as you have gravity on your side, and attacking the bottom player is very easy. With this, it is important to have a couple of techniques handy so you can get out of the pin as soon as possible.
In this video, we look at five ways to get out of the mount. The video mentions that there are many ways to get mounted, and exploring these positions is absolutely vital.
The first technique is the upa or trap and roll escape. This is the quintessential escape when stuck in bottom mount and is likely the first escape you’ll learn. The trigger to the trap and roll is that your opponent’s arms should be based on the mat, preferably near your head. Choose a side, grab one arm, and place it near your centerline. Hook the same side foot, bridge, and roll them over. This should land you inside the opponent’s guard when executed correctly.
An alternative technique is the trap and roll when the opponent stays upright. What you can do in this case is to either force their body down by using your knee to push against their glute, you can also grab a 2-on-1 against their arm, and do the same steps to the basic trap and roll – hooking the same side foot, bridging and rolling them over.
The next technique is using the single leg X guard if the top player bases at an angle while on top. Assuming your opponent bases using their left arm, shrimp out so that you move to your left side, create space, and transition to single leg X guard to control their right leg and hip. Doing this will quickly put you on the offensive as options like wrestling up, sweeps, and leglocks are readily available with this guard.
The third technique is the counter to the grapevine. The grapevine is a great partner to the mount as it restricts the bottom player’s legs from moving side to side. The first thing you need to do in this case is to remove the grapevine. You can do this by moving a leg upwards (thus escaping the grapevine on one side) and using your foot to pry your other leg as you straighten it out. From here, you can scoot your hips back and recover your guard.
The fourth technique is elevating your opponent and transitioning to butterfly guard. This is a powerful option, especially against lighter opponents. The butterfly guard is one of the most offensive guards in Jiu-Jitsu. You’ll definitely get a lot of attacking options from there. The key to this escape is to lift both legs as you bridge up and carry their weight by straightening your arms. Wedge your knees in as they fall back; this should land you in the butterfly guard.
The last technique is using your legs to post against their armpits as you escape. This is a cool counter to the high mount and is a critical technique to add to your toolbox. Create space by using your arms to push against their armpits. Swing your legs to their armpits as you remove your arms and perform a backroll to escape.
Bottom Side Control
Escaping side control is another essential skill you need to master. Today we’ll examine three of the highest percentage techniques you can do.
In this video, Chad Hardy goes over some of his favorite side control escapes. The first technique is where you flip the opponent over by trapping their arm against yours. It starts by first creating a frame against their neck as you wave your other hand toward the direction of their head. Use your framing arm to push the head as you trap an arm and flip them over.
The second technique is similar to the first, but instead of flipping them over, you force the opponent to base out as you escape underneath. Gather momentum by swinging your legs, forcing the opponent to post on the mat. Doing this should allow you to dig for an underhook and escape the pin.
The last technique is an alternative in cases where you can’t dig for an underhook. Swing your legs forward and back. This should create space to lift your leg and attack with an armbar. Alternatively, you can return to guard instead of attacking with the submission.
We highly encourage you to study these escapes. These techniques are useful for all levels and will give you the tools to stay safe even against your toughest training partners.
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