Confidence in BJJ can be directly attributed to your skill in escaping bad positions. The ability to stay safe wherever the match goes gives you the freedom to constantly attack and pursue submissions without fear.
John Danaher suggests that a grappler’s first responsibility is to learn skills associated with survival and escape, as it can help them stay in the fight and eventually fight back. This comes back to the idea that being good in Jiu-Jitsu means staying unharmed regardless of who you fight.
In this article, we will give you 10 fundamental escapes to build up your defensive repertoire.
Fundamental Escapes In BJJ
A beginner’s priority should be on learning how to survive. This includes framing, escapes, and guard retention. Working on these skills helps prevent potential injuries. It will also keep you from getting smashed as much as possible. These may not sound very appealing, but you need to have a good understanding of survival BJJ if you want to get better.
That said, here are some of the best escapes every grappler should know.
1) Side Control Escape
Side control is absolutely the bane of most beginners who train in Jiu-Jitsu. It is a pin where you lay perpendicular to your opponent, and the legs are not interlaced. Escaping side control requires precise technique to work. Here are a couple of options you can do.
There are many ways to escape side control. In this video, Teco Shinzato from the EVOLVE Fight Team shares five BJJ escapes from the dreaded position. You can escape by applying reversals, wrestling up, or simply framing to create space. Keep in mind that there are two essential factors to effective side control escapes: framing and positioning of your hips relative to your opponent.
2) Back Mount Escape
The back mount is the most dominant position in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. What makes escaping this position difficult is that you are not facing the opponent. It is hard to defend what you cannot see.
Shinya Aoki from the EVOLVE Fight Team demonstrates five ways to escape the back mount. Escaping the back mount can land you into different positions like the half guard, side control, and closed guard.
To escape, you must consider defending the opponent’s choking arm, which side you are escaping, and how their legs are configured. A good rule of thumb when escaping the back mount is to always be ready for a scramble.
3) Turtle Escape
Turtle is a defensive position where you ball up with your back exposed. While the turtle can be a safe position to be in, you are forced to stay on the defensive. Staying in the turtle position is not a good idea because you are at risk of getting attacked by front headlocks and back attacks.
In this video, Gustavo Gasperin shows options from the bottom turtle. A common approach is to use a wrestling sitout or rolling, depending on where your opponent is positioned.
4) Full Mount Escape
The full mount is a great position for BJJ and MMA because you have gravity on your side. From the mount, you can attempt submissions as well as strikes. There are different ways to escape the mount; you recover to half-guard, reversal, or even go to ashi-garami.
Teco Shinzato shows five essential escapes from the mount. The most basic escape from the full mount is to trap an opponent’s arm and leg on one side as you bridge towards that direction.
5) Armbar Escape
The armbar is one of the first submissions you’ll learn in BJJ. It is a highly nuanced technique and a good example of using your whole body to isolate an opponent’s limb.
If you’re a bigger and stronger grappler, you may naturally find it easier to endure and escape the armbar. The hitchhiker escape, as Fabio Da Mata from the EVOLVE Fight Team shows, requires time to perfect. Proper timing is crucial in applying this technique, as the opponent can follow through and continue the submission.
6) Triangle Escape
The triangle is one of the most fundamental submissions in BJJ. The key to escaping the triangle is to stay composed and use framing techniques to open up escape routes. Take note that slamming is illegal under most BJJ rulesets.
Garry Tonon shows his approach to escaping a fully locked triangle. The triangle can be executed alongside other submissions like the armbar, so remember to look out for other threats once you pop out your head.
7) Guillotine Escape
The guillotine is a submission that can end matches in an instant. In almost all cases, it is applied when the opponent’s head is low or by snapping it down.
The guillotine can be applied both standing and on the ground. Escaping the standing guillotine will require you to take the opponent down as you move to the side and pass, the same way you escape a guillotine applied on the ground.
8) North-South Escape
The north-south is one of the most underutilized positions in grappling, which is strange because most beginners have no idea how to escape the pin. Escaping the north-south requires a step-by-step approach as arm positions may vary depending on your opponent’s plan of attack. In this video, Travis Stevens shows a proven way to escape the position.
9) Knee On Belly Escape
The knee on belly is a floating pin commonly used by experienced grapplers to wear down overzealous beginners. While there are many ways to escape the knee on belly, doing a simple hip escape to single leg works well on all levels.
10) Single Leg Escape
Knowing counters to the most common takedowns is crucial. All BJJ matches start standing up, and it is safe to assume that your opponent will attempt at least one takedown if you decide to stay standing. The single leg takedown is perhaps the most common takedown grapplers use as it is relatively easy to execute and can be applied from many angles.
In this video, George and Frank Hickman from Tiger MMA demonstrate a fantastic escape and counter the single leg takedown. Take note that while it is not wrong to pull guard, learning how to defend takedowns is always a valuable skill to have.
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