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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

08 September 2011

08/09/2011 - Teaching (Escaping Back Mount)

Teaching #018
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 08/09/2011

Last time I showed a couple of options for getting to the back, ready to then teach three weeks of back mount. For this first week, I decided to cover escapes, as that's where I'm most comfortable. I'm going to pause at this point for a terminological babble (see my glossary for more of that kind of thing), as 'back mount' is less definite than I thought it was. I discovered this when telling Geeza what I was teaching tonight: he makes a distinction between what he calls 'back grab' and 'back mount', which is something I haven't heard before. Either way, the former is what I'm going to be covering, where they are sat behind you with their hooks in.

'Back mount' may also be used as a term for when they've flattened you out on your front. You might also hear 'rear mount'. Given I'm pedantic, I wanted to make sure I'm using the right term. Having a look around for sources, I see that Saulo just calls it 'the back' in Jiu Jitsu University. In the Gracie Barra Fundamentals DVD set, Marcio Feitosa also refers simply to 'the back', at least when going from the same position I'm teaching for the next three weeks. Similarly, John Danaher talks about 'the opponent's back' and 'your back' in his section on positions in BJJ: Theory & Technique.

Having said that, Geeza's term does appear in the IBJJF rules, where you can find the line "front mount, back mount and back grab." There is also a definition on there:

E-) THE BACK GRAB: Is when the athlete grabs his adversary’s back, taking hold of his neck and wrapping his legs around his opponent’s waist, with his heels leaning on the inner side of his opponent’s thighs, not allowing him to leave the position. 4 POINTS.

Unfortunately there isn't a definition for 'back mount'. That may mean that the terms are interchangeable, or that they just didn't think it required a specific definition for some reason. On good ol Wikipedia (not exactly reliable, but hey), it lends support to the interchangeable theory: "When utilizing the back mount, often known in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as the back grab." In the marketing spiel for this very spieled up advert, it says "Getting the back mount (aka. "back grab") position". Then there's the US Grappling rules, which seem to use 'back mount' in the same broad sense as I do:

Back Mount with Hooks in = 4 points
Back Mount knees on ground, opponent flat on stomach = 4 points (Additional 4 points are scored by putting the hooks in from this position)
Body triangle from the back = 4 points

None of which is very conclusive, but it's the kind of thing I enjoy researching. ;)

Whether you want to call it the back, back mount or back grab, in that position they are frequently going to begin by trying to attack your neck. Protecting your neck is therefore a priority. In order to choke you, they need to block off both sides of your neck. That will normally use either your gi (e.g., sliding choke), their gi (e.g., ezequiel choke), your arms (e.g., arm triangle) or their arms (e.g., rear naked choke). Therefore you have to be aware of all four of them: note their grips, if they're trying to pull their gi across, if they're attempting to thread an arm through yours, and most obviously, if they are attempting to drive their arm under your chin.

As with any escape, you need to stay tight. Keep your elbows in, using your hands to cover your neck. There are numerous schools of thought on just how to do that: clamping your hands to both sides of your neck (which I learned as the 'Shirley Temple' defence), crossing your hands over your neck, grabbing both your collars, and Saulo's method of just grabbing one collar, keeping the other hand free to block.

Saulo's back escape starts by putting a thumb inside your opposite collar, using your other hand to block their hands. You then do what Saulo calls a 'big scoop', shifting your upper body down and your hips forwards. Next, kick out one of your legs to clear their hook (you may also need to nudge it with your elbow), then drop your other elbow down past their other leg and turn. You need to be careful here that they can't re-establish their second hook: block it with your elbow and knee if they try.

If you're a bit late and they've already got an arm across your neck, fall towards the open side, as if you were reclining on a couch (if you fall the other way, you're helping them get the choke. You also want to turn your head towards their elbow to relieve pressure. Both Saulo and his brother Xande suggest that when you fall to the side, you want to be lying on their knee, as that will stop them moving around. From there, Xande adds the detail of turning your hips to clear their hook.

Step your leg over, using that as a base to shrimp out. Grab their other trouser leg, to prevent them from moving through to mount as you try to escape. Keep shrimping in order to clear their leg, aiming to re-establish guard. Make sure that you are still being careful of your neck, as that is always a danger from back mount. Kev has a useful memory aid he uses when teaching this escape, which is "head, shoulders, hips." In other words, get your head to the mat, then your shoulders, then clear their hips.

Another way to escape the back is by bridging, as taught to me by Kev (which incidentally is the same way Feitosa teaches it on Gracie Barra Fundamentals). Cross your hands under your jaw, pressing the back of each hand against your face, elbows in tight. This should both block attempts to press a forearm into your neck, while still enabling you to use your hands to intercept theirs.

Bridge up, then keep moving to the side until you've created a bit of pressure on their hook. Push it off with your same side hand and immediately move your hips over onto the floor (the difficult part here is knowing when to move your hand to the leg, as you don't want to give them access to your neck). You need to make sure that you keep your weight on their chest the whole time, gluing their upper body to the ground.

Gradually walk around with your feet, maintaining that pressure on their chest. With your other hand (this will be the same hand that released their hooking foot earlier), reach over and grab their opposite leg. This is to stop them turning into you. It should now be a simple matter to twist into side control. You can also try hooking around their head: the picture below is from a slightly different scenario, as Xande is escaping the turtle, but similar principles apply.


  1. I'd have to say escaping backmount is one of the least practices area's of my skill set, usually relying on athleticism and improv. I'll have to try some of these

  2. I end up there relatively often against blues and up, as I've been trying the running escape a lot over the last year. As so often with teaching, this lesson acted as a handy reminder for me too. ;)