You Need To Escape

Our friend in blue desperately needs to escape this back mount before things get hairy

If your get caught in back mount  you will certainly not want to stay there for as short as humanly possible. Its easily the worst position to be in during a MMA fight, or any type of grappling arena for that matter. Of course being the worst position, it is very difficult to escape from a good back mount position.

There is more to back mount than simply piggy backing the opponent. Any opponent with half a brain knows how to control an opponent from back mount and also knows exactly how to end the fight from back mount as well. I shouldn’t even have to explicitly state the name of the submission but, the rear naked choke is a deadly submission that seems all to easy to sink in once in solid back mount position.

To have a better understanding of, and hopefully counter to, back mount control and submission techniques CLICK HERE

The Basic Idea

Before knowing the specific technique behind this escape. The main security line that your opponent has to stay in back mount on you is the leg hooks. Good hooks pin the lower half of the choker’s body to the chokee’s so that it is much harder to move around and escape. Removing these hooks, or by some miracle fighting an opponent who carelessly performs rear mount, are a key part of escaping back mount.

Also when in back mount you are in a substantially worse position than your opponent so doing anything helps. By driving back into him the mat your opponent loses mobility options because his limbs are out of contact with the mat and he is being driven into the mat as well. So he really has no control over your combined position. This is still not a good position to be in, of course, but it can give you some control over the opponent in preparation for your escape.

Another thing to remember when escaping the back mount is to embrace the roll. Controlling an opponent’s spacial degrees of freeedom are easy because the hooks and arms are barriers preventing movement. However unless your opponent has the strongest leg muscles ever rotating your body inside the back mount is a good way to break their hooks on you and a choke attempt.

The Great Escape

The first technique (video below) is a very simple and effective escape technique to practice. Another aspect that this technique uses is the removal of the opponents hips from yours. Once the opponent lets the pressure up that is gluing your two bodies together your chances of escape increase dramatically. When the hips are stepped out and your control is regained you need to spin around in your opponents back mount to face him. .

This technique should not be used without confidence though because at one point your essentially in mount position. However, as the video shows, there are also more complete variations that end in other submissions for the original one who was going to get submitted,

This next video (below) shows a slightly different variation where you end up in their closed guard instead of mounted, which is exponentially better. It is a slightly more technical move that requires more twisting and turning of the body along with what seems to be more technique in general.

Easy as Pie

Wrong, remember during all of this escaping your opponent is in arguably the most dominant grappling position and smelling that win on the tip of their nose. There is no way the opponent will give up the back mount easily, but you also have no choice but to escape if you want to win.This is why back mount escapes needs to be worked on to have any hope of escaping if you get tangles up.


The Top Sprawl Position

When avoiding a double or single leg takedown attempt one good defense is to get into a sprawl position. Often stand up fighters will find themselves in this position because a grappler will quickly want to takedown a stronger stand up fighter. The sprawl position can be a very dominant position after a failed takedown mainly because you have the opponents back and he therefor doesn’t have many offensive options. If you can control a sprawl position form the top without letting the opponent slip out easily you can tire him down substantially and possibly end the fight right from this position.

Belfort sprawling in UFC 142

To get into a dominant top sprawl position, when an opponent shoots in for the takedown you need to shoot legs back to avoid the opponent from grabbing them. If your opponent can get ahold of either leg or ankle in the sprawl he has a much better chance of passing to a beter position. Also a firm grip around their neck provides a solid hold and a way of depriving the opponent of oxygen. Lastly you should be up on your toes pressing your hips down and pressing your body into the opponents back so it is harder for him to move.

Submissions from Top Sprawl

The two most notable and fundamental submissions from this position are probably the anaconda choke and the guillotine choke. The anaconda choke is a pressure choke that has a simple setup and simple execution. This move however is easy to defend against as well. The guillotine choke from the sprawl position can sometimes be executed as soon as the sprawl happens catching the opponent off guard and allowing him to slip into the submission. However with a little positioning and agility the guillotine can be worked durring the sprawl as well.

A rear naked choke is also a posible submission because you already have the opponent’s back. To perform a rear naked choke you can use your opponents position as a sort of pivot point and scurry around 180 degrees to be in the correct position to execute the hold.  This submission also takes some agility to use effectively because it takes a second to get into the right position and in that time the fighter on bottom has time to escape.

Striking from the Sprawl

Most fighters who opt for a sprawl durring a takedown prefer to use striking over grappling in the first place. From a sprawl position the opponent has no way of hitting you because he has his back to you. This leaves the opportunity to land some powerful strikes that could be blocked but matched by the opponent. The opponent’s body and his head/face are all ready targets for some quick powerful strikes from a dominant position.

Also a move called the cement mixer puts you in an extremely dominant striking position from the sprawl position

Possible Escapes

There are a host of possibilities for your opponent to consider when he is on the bottom of the sprawl position. A common defense is for the opponent to use a sit-out in which he essentially drives his body up and twists around to a sitting position throwing you to one side, then he takes a back mount position. There is another variation of this escape where the opponent fully rolls over you from the bottom switching to top sprawl position. These two escapes can be avoided by pressing into the opponent by staying on the toes and keeping yourself centered over the opponent not allowing him to throw you to one side.

Also the opponent on bottom will try to grab and control you legs to use them as leverage to better his position, possibly getting into dogfight position. By keeping on your toes and keeping your hips raised and pressing down you can avoid this escape as well. One other defense to watch out for is the opponent simply rolling back and pulling you into full guard position, which is especially dangerous for striker oriented fighters against a strong grappler.


An Olympic Wrestler performing a throw on his opponent

Almost everybody knows about the sport of wrestling whether they competed themselves in high school or college or they watch events on television. What people don’t know is that wrestling is one of the oldest sports being practiced in various forms around the world for thousands of years. One of the most prominent examples of ancient wrestling was performed at the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece, though this was a much more brutal form of competition.

Today different forms of amateur wrestling competitions are held across the world and the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Style (FILA) regulates most of these competitions. For a wealth of information and news on amateur wrestling styles and rules visit FILA’s home site here

Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling are some of the most popular versions of this sport practiced and are the only types of wrestling in the modern Olympic Games Along with these very widespread wrestling styles there are other international wrestling disciplines such as combat grappling, pankration, and oil wrestling are all practiced as well. There are also folk-wrestling styles which are classified by their native influences and do not have international ties. American collegiate wrestling is considered a folk-wrestling style but is similar to freestyle wrestling.

Greco-Roman Wrestling

This wrestling discipline has a very unique characteristic that separates it from other styles, there is no grabbing of the opponent below the waist or using the legs offense or deffense. In addition to this there is also an emphasis on throws and slams in this discipline while pinning the opponent is a secondary concern once they are slammed to the ground. This style is very explosive and power oriented because of the fact that you cant grab the legs or use them on the opponent, which makes it a very fun sport to watch and participate in.

Here is a video of Alexander Karelin who is considered one of the best Greco-Roman wrestlers of all time

Freestyle Wrestling

Freestyle wrestling is probably the most widespread type of wrestling practiced. The main goal of this style of wrestling is to throw the opponent to the ground and pin him. Because there are no restrictions on grabbing the opponent below the waist, along with the implementation of many techniques from other martial arts disciplines, freestyle wrestling is considered the most complete style of wrestling. It requires more finesse, strength, and quickness than the Greco-Roman style of wrestling.

American Collegiate Wrestling

American Collegiate wrestling is very similar to freestyle wrestling, however there are a few fine points which separate the two styles. The differences come from the folk-wrestling influence of the american collegiate wrestling. These differences include a focus on pining and controlling the opponent instead of throwing and slamming him along with differences in scoring and starting positions.

Other Wrestling Styles

Beach wrestling, grappling, Pankration and mixed martial arts are also styles of wrestling that FILA oversees around the world. Beach wrestling is a type of wrestling adopted by FILA in 2004 which takes place in a sandy arena and its participants try to throw their opponents to their back or out of the ring. Grappling tournaments are practiced as well and are separated from more traditional wrestling styles because of their emphasis on submissions over pinning the opponent.

Pankration has its roots in the ancient Olympic wrestling games. This is essentially an ancient form of mixed martial arts which combined strikes, wrestling, and submissions and lacking in rules. While the modern form of amateur pankration is a much more civilized sport, with safety actually being a concern, it is still a very powerful style of fighting.

Techniques from Top Position of Full Guard

the full guard position when you don’t posture up

Durring a mixed martial arts fight all too often the two competitors will end up in the full guard position. There is a reason for this, from the bottom position most people feel relatively secure in this guard for being on the bottom. Also when performing a takedown, even a pretty good takedown can end up in this position once you get to the ground. However no matter how comfortable the opponent feels in this position it is the more dominant position.

From the top position there are many different options on what to do next. Passing the guard and performing a submission, even TKO are all options from here. However a good opponent will not easily let you take him from this position.

Posture Up

Once you get caught in an opponent’s full guard the first thing you should do is posture up. What this means is that you sit back into your heals, lower your hips to the ground, and keeping your back flat. The hands should be placed on the opponents hips and push down as well, this helps keep the back straight as well as control the opponent.

By posturing up when caught in the closed guard you protect yourself from many of an opponent’s possible offensive advances.  Posturing up puts you out of reach of his arms that will be trying to hit or grab you as well as straining his lock with his feet around your waist possibly giving you a chance to escape.

Passing the Guard

A technique that is al almost essential to MMA and grappling in general is being able to pass the guard of an opponent. This position can be almost like a stalemate at times but for the person on the bottom a stalemate is all he needs until you try something rash and he submits you. For the basics on passing the full guard click here.

One simple way to pass the guard is to posture up and use the elbows on the inside of the opponent’s legs to force them appart. this is not only uncomfortable for the opponent but it can easily break his legs behind your back and allow for a pass.


Directly from this position there are not really any useful submissions to use. The key to performing submissions from this position are through quickly passing the guard and using the ensuing scramble to catch him off guard. If The guard is passed and side  control or optimally in full mount there are a host of submissions that can be deployed from those dominant positions.

Ground and Pound

An extremely effective way to finish a fight is through TKO. Being in the top of a full guard position gives you immediate dominance in the fight. A strong or long limbed fighter might be able to have a dangerous ground and pound from the full guard. However throwing punches can be a double edged sword because it leaves one open to submissions and sweeps.

Passing full guard and then seeking a gound and pound TKO is very lucrative. especially if you pass to mount position it is the most dominant striking position to be in really. Also you can pass to a standing position and try to work a ground and pound TKO from there.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

A martial art that has gained much more notoriety in the past years is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This martial art focusses on taking an opponent to the ground and attacking him using joint locks and choke holds. It was started in the early 20th century by a Japanese man who imigrated to brazil and pioneered as its own martial art by his early disciples.

BJJ has its roots in judo because of the Japanese master’s own roots. However it was developed further and into its own martial art from the early user’s competing and learning as they went along. BJJ also incorporates moves from other martial arts that are effective as well. In addition to its relative youth compared to other long standing tradition martial arts, BJJ differs from traditional martial arts by being a sport and a way to simply improve fitness rather than just a systern of fighting.


Brazilian jiu jitsu traditional gi

The traditional practitioners of BJJ wear a gi made of heavy cotton. This gi gives the opportunity to provide paces to grasp and opponent and a tool to choke him out with. The belt is used to secure the gi and signify rank similar to many traditional japanese martial arts. In recent times no-gi BJJ has become more popular, especially with those competing in mixed martial arts and those just seeking the exercise, where just fighting shorts and possibly a shirt are worn.

Fighting Style

The main advantage of BJJ lies int he fact that a smaller opponent, with the correct technique, can defeat even larger opponents. This also takes into account that a larger opponent will generally seek to  use striking to take down an opponent and will not focus on his ground game as much. Also when grappling a larger opponents strength can be negated by an experienced grappler. This is achieved by using leverage and getting in positions where the mechanical advantage is such that no amount of strength can break through the experienced grappler’s advances.

The way BJJ seeks to end a fight is through joint-locks and chokeholds. Joint-locks focusing on bending body parts the way they shouldn’t be to cause pain and, if used for real self defense situations, broken bones or torn connecting tissue. And of course chokeholds used to knock out your opponent through lack of oxygen or blood to the brain.

For a whole bunch of basic BJJ techniques click here

Ground Supperiority

BJJ almost exclusively focusses on fighting on the ground. This is much different from other fighting styles which either exclusively  focus on striking from a stand up position or split time between a ground game and a takedown game. This almost exclusive ground training gives a BJJ fighter a great opportunity to train himself to become a dominating force on the ground.

A great BJJ user will be comfortable in any situation you place them in on the ground. Realistically though he will simply work his way to a position he wants to be in and finish you off from there, or at the first mistake you make before he gets there. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become a platform in recent years to form a dominating ground game and control a fight, hopefully leading one’s self ending up in the winner’s chair but even a loss can be used to better one’s self.