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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

27 October 2011

27/10/2011 - Teaching (Maintaining Mount: Technical Mount & Gift Wrap to the Back)

Teaching #025
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 27/10/2011

Last time, I talked about the two main ways of maintaining the mount, which are low mount with grapevines, along with high mount, walking your knees up into their armpits, squeezing your legs into their sides. However, as with all the other dominant positions in BJJ, sometimes you'll find your opponent is about to escape. Rather than lose the position, there are several transitions in mount that mean you can retain control.

The most common is probably technical mount, sometimes referred to as seated mount. I mentioned this briefly in my previous lesson, but I wanted to spend more time on it tonight. If they turn under your mount, turn with them, so that you're facing in the same direction as their head. They will end up facing away from you, balanced on their side. As you turn to follow them, lead that turning motion with your knee, sliding it along their back. The other knee comes off the floor, meaning that you can now jam the heel of that raised leg into their hip. This is key: if you leave any space, you're vulnerable to their escape.

I tend to have the foot of the leg by their back tucked close to them, to cut off space. However, that may not provide as good a base compared to angling the foot away slightly, should they try to shove you in that direction. Lean into their shoulder with your upper body, to further help stabilise the position and remove any gaps. From there, I like to reach through with my lower hand and grab their collar, ready to initiate some choke attempts.

If you can get a decent grip on their upper body, then you can also apply some lessons we learned about other positions. For example, a while ago I showed one of Andre Galvao's methods for keeping the back. If you look at that technique, you'll see that certain stages are quite similar to the technical mount. So, if from reason the foot you have by their hip is slipping and they try to catch it in half guard, try sliding your other knee right to their head and rolling them to the other side. Due to their half guard attempt, they've already given you one hook, so you just need to insert the other.

It is also worth keeping in mind that you can of course switch back to full mount. That may present itself if they turn towards you from technical mount. By doing that, they're basically putting themselves back underneath full mount: you just have to adjust your leg positioning slightly. Always try to stay fluid, rather than locking yourself stiffly into one position.

A more secure way to go to the back from mount is to use a gift wrap, which you'll also see called twisting arm control. If they have an elbow exposed (e.g., they might be reaching over to grab their own collar, in an attempt to protect their neck), you can push into that with your chest, to shove their hand down next to the side of their neck. If you then reach under their head with your arm and grasp their wrist, you can pull it tight.

Use that grip on their wrist to turn them on their side, switching your legs to the technical mount position. Drop backwards, pulling them along with you using that gift wrap grip. The first hook is simple, as you already had that foot by their hip, so it is in position. For the second hook, your knee that was by their back slides into position, as you are pulling them past it.

Another option is to switch into s-mount, which is often the precursor to an armbar (which I'll cover next week). From full mount, slide one knee up towards their head. Your other knee is going to drive into their far arm. Once you have their arm roughly at the level of their chest, swing the lower part of your far leg: your foot should point towards their head, with the rest of the leg curled around their armpit. It is important you keep this tight.

You should now be turned towards their far side, sitting back on your near side heel. To further tighten up the position, you can reaching under their head and grabbing your far ankle, pulling it towards their near side. Stephan Kesting recommends you slightly raise the knee that is by their head off the floor, to put additional pressure into their diaphragm. A final tip on s-mount, this time from Aesopian (fill out his gi survey if you haven't already), is to hook their far leg with your free arm, to diminish the power of their bridge. He also tends to drive his near side knee a bit further, so that it slides under their head.


  1. I had some trouble yesterday reaching the leg to hook it while in s-mount, I felt like I had to disrupt my balance a bit to grab it and if they immediately resisted I struggled to get back upright and usually had to let go.

    What I did find worked nearly as well was grabbing my partners gi at the knee and either pushing or pulling the knee so that it did't point straight up (switching from push to pull as they tried to correct). This seemed to be fairly effective at reducing their ability to bridge effectively.

    No idea how effective that would be in general, I plan to experiment if I manage to get to the position anytime soon. Just thought I'd share :)

    Thanks for the class.

  2. Yeah, it isn't essential to grab the leg: I was just adding that in as an option, because I've seen Aesopian do it. So, if you've found another way that works for you, cool. :D

  3. Really enjoyed reading this as I just learned mount for the first time yesterday (and when I say "learned" I mean another fundamentals student tried to talk me through it and I was clumsy as hell). I've gotten very comfortable with side control, especially because I feel it gives me more leverage as a smaller person working with bigger partners, although I know mount is extremely important to learn and very powerful if done right, particularly against someone your own size. So your article was great; I'm going to write these tips down and try to at least keep them in mind for Tuesday's class. And then practice like hell, of course :o)

  4. Cool: glad to be of help!

    Although it would definitely be better to ask your instructor if you've got any questions, as I'm just a noobie purple belt writing words on a screen. :)

    Also, if you've recently learned mount for the first time, then I would say the earlier lesson I taught would be more useful to you: s-mount and technical mount are add-ons to that.

    I found it took me a long time to get comfortable with mount: for years I dreaded getting in mount, as I expected to be flung straight off in short order.

    I think what helped me most initially was using the low mount and grapevines, as that finally gave me a sense of control in mount, rather than feeling like I was just waiting to get reversed. ;D

  5. Oh yeah, I'll definitely be asking my instructor as I go along. But it never hurts to have pointers already in your head since there are an overwhelming number of things to remember! And getting flung off is exactly my problem because even if I've got tight positioning with good pressure, the bigger guys can just kind of sit up and roll to the side lol. Most of them don't, they actually work on technique, but you said, I just feel like I'm waiting to get reversed. But again, I haven't "officially" learned it yet so I'm sure I'll pick it up in more detail later on. I'll check out your earlier lesson too, to get an idea of what to think about as I go along.

  6. I'd recommend giving the low mount with grapevines a try (which I talk about in that earlier lesson), as it made a big difference to my mount back in the day. :)

    Interestingly, I have heard some people don't like to use grapevines, which confuses me as it appears to be taught by a lot of well-respected instructors (Demian Maia, Saulo Ribeiro, Rener Gracie, Stephan Kesting, Roy Dean, etc). Though could be the critics mean something else by 'grapevines'.