Today’s lesson of BJJ 101 will cover everything you need to know about back control (rear mount) in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The rear mount position is a personal favorite of many high-level practitioners. Moreover, it’s considered the very best position in all of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu hierarchy.
– You have the opportunity to attack your opponent’s neck
– Your opponent is forced to defend his neck
– You can see what your opponent is doing
– Your opponent can’t see what you’re doing
– You can transition to another submission or dominant position
And the list goes on and on.
So, it’s no surprise that competitors and students with a comprehensive understanding of how to take the back, control the back, and submit an opponent from the rear mount position have an enormous advantage over anyone who has disregarded mastering this fundamental position in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
When it comes to controlling the back, there are several universally agreed upon techniques and strategies to help maintain the position.
One of the most understated aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, especially when compared to other martial arts, is that BJJ utilizes your legs in many brilliant ways. Controlling the back is a perfect example of how it is impossible to control your opponent without using your legs properly.
When you use a leg or foot to control an opponent, you are using what is known as a ‘hook.’ When you have secured rear mount, it’s essential to place and maintain your hooks. As for your opponent, he will be attempting to remove your hooks and escape. Your hooks come out to either side of your opponent and prevent him from turning either way and escaping.
In the video above, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Alec Baulding explains the basic concepts of placing and maintaining hooks from rear mount.
One must-know tip from this video is that you shouldn’t cross your ankles when you have secured the rear mount position.
If you cross your ankles, your opponent can lift a foot over the top of your feet and apply severe pressure, likely forcing you to submit. Always remember to keep your legs open and refrain from crossing your ankles.
Seat Belt Grip
The seat belt grip is commonly agreed upon as the most effective way to control the back of your opponent.
To form a seat belt grip, your hands will need to be secured in front of your opponent with one arm going underneath his shoulder and your other arm going over his other shoulder. The arm that goes over the top of his shoulder is your choking arm – the arm you will look to finish the rear-naked choke with. To secure the seat belt grip, your choking hand will make a fist, and your supporting hand will cover the fist.
It is imperative that when you take your opponent to the mat, you take him to the side of your choking arm. This prevents your opponent from escaping and also helps you transition to the rear-naked choke.
You don’t need to squeeze the seat belt grip, because that will only burn your arms out. Instead, you can remain loose but also remain ready to tighten the grip if you feel him trying to turn away. Bring your chin down closer to your opponent to create more power and stay tight to their body.
For the ultimate back control, you need your hooks in, as well.
The video above explains some techniques on how to take the back, secure the seat belt grip, and then set up the rear-naked choke. This is how the seat belt grip should be taught. It’s not a position, but a way to maintain your current position (rear mount). You should be using the seat belt to transition to a submission (rear-naked choke) or control your opponent.
Demian Maia, a 4th-degree black belt regarded as one of the greatest grapplers in MMA history, explains the basics of a body triangle in the video above.
The body triangle is another fundamental technique for controlling the back of your opponent.
You are looking to lock your legs around the body of your opponent by wrapping your bottom leg (on the side of your choking arm) around his body and connecting it with your top-side leg.
Here’s another important tip for when you have established the rear mount position. Just as crossing your feet is a bad idea, you should avoid having your body triangle connected underneath your opponent. Always attempt to secure the body triangle on the top-side. If they try to shift to their other side, swiftly change the body triangle to the other side. This will avoid your feet being crushed underneath your opponent.
Possible Escapes And How To Stop Them
There are several common escapes from rear mount and we’ll detail them here so that you have an understanding of what your opponent might attempt to do.
1 – Putting his shoulder to the mat and driving his body out of the position
2 – Freeing his hips from your hooks and using the increased mobility to escape from your upper body control
You can stop the first escape by disallowing his open shoulder from hitting the mat. Your seat belt already covers one shoulder, so it’s about preventing the other from touching the mat. If he gets that far, he might quickly drive his body out and escape from your seatbelt grip.
The second variation of escape can be stopped by practicing keeping your hooks tight. Rather than directly placing it on the outside of their body, look to place it further across the body. Remember, don’t cross your feet! This will make it more difficult for him to slide his hips over your hooks and begin to escape.
In summary, here are the basic do’s and don’ts of the rear mount position:
- Keep your seatbelt grip locked in and focus on preventing your opponent’s open shoulder from hitting the mat.
- Tilt your opponent to the side of your choking arm.
- Secure your seatbelt grip by making a fist with your choking arm and covering it with your supporting hand.
- Keep your head tight to your opponent’s and close the distance between your two bodies.
- Place your hooks and maintain them. Don’t let them slip or slide out easily. Prevent your opponent from escaping by keeping them deep. If possible, use a body triangle.
- Let your opponent fall to the side of your non-choking arm.
- Cross your feet in the rear mount position.
- Lock your body triangle underneath your opponent.