Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 02/04/2013
Dónal has stepped back from teaching (understandably, as he's a new father), so the class schedule is shifting around to accommodate that. From now on, I will be teaching the Tuesday class, meaning that Thursdays will be just the one nogi class. That does have the advantage of meaning I'll be on the main mats again, which have more space, more heat and a better timer.
As a rule of thumb, if you're underneath, you don't want to be flat on your back. So, start your elbow escape by turning to your side and working your elbows inside their knee. Keep defending your neck throughout, so that your elbows form a frame. Create some space by bridging. You can then use your frame to help you shrimp into the space you just created, pushing against their leg.
The idea is to make enough space to pull your leg through: don't just bridge and plop back down. That leg will need to be flat, the other raised, or it will be hard to pull it free. After you're on your side, bump slightly, then simultaneously pry their knee up and over with your elbow while sliding your flat leg underneath.
Aim to pop your knee through initially. If you can pull the whole leg out in one, great, but don't be greedy. Getting that knee through will mean you can then brace it against their thigh, aiding your second shrimp to free your other leg. Once one of your legs is fully out, you can then use it to wrap around one of theirs. Getting half guard may be a possibility here, but generally I'd recommend you keep working towards full guard. To do that, continue shrimping (towards the trapped leg side: you should be able to base the trapped leg foot on the floor if you've already got your knee into their thigh) and framing until both legs are free. Another option is to put the leg around their back.
You can also use a frame against their hips, one arm across, the other bracing against that wrist, elbow in tight. That's also handy for stopping them moving up higher in mount. However, be extra careful with your neck if you do that: as your arms are down by their hips, that could leave you vulnerable to chokes. Use a powerful bridge followed immediately by shrimping to make space, then complete the escape as before.
The elbow escape is related to my personal favourite mount escape, the heel drag. The heel drag is also quite simple, which is another reason I like it so much. You're in mount, your elbows in a good place for defence, down by their knees. For this escape to work, you need to have one of your legs out flat, just like before. Again, you also need to get on your side: a slight bridging motion will help.
The big danger at this point is that the person on top will switch to technical mount. You therefore need to make sure that your neck is safe if that happens. You also don't want to let them settle into technical mount: immediately prepare your frames to start escaping before they secure the position. You may even be able to disrupt them as they try to shift, using that shift in their base to enter into your escape.
If they don't get to technical mount, or you're able to work back to the previous position, wedge an elbow underneath their knee. You can either make a frame against their hips, or if you're concerned about your neck, adjust so that you can still pry your elbow under their knee while protecting your collar with your hands. As well as chokes, you also need to be wary of their cross-face: if they can control your head, they can flatten you back out, which will make the escape less effective. Use a combination of your elbow and shrimping to shove their knee backwards, on your flat leg side.
Bring your other foot over both your flat leg and the leg they have next to it. That means you can use the heel of that foot to drag their leg over your flat leg. As soon as you get it over, lock half guard and shrimp towards their trapped leg. In half guard, you want to get onto your side as quickly as possible: if you stay flat on your back, you've already done their work for them, as they will want to flatten you out in order to pass half guard. If you're comfortable in half guard, you could stay there and work your attacks.
Alternatively, keep shrimping in the other direction, in order to free your other leg, just like you would with an elbow escape. It's also worth noting that some people, like Roy Dean, recommend just pinching your knees rather than fully triangling your legs around theirs, so that's worth trying too. To help recover full guard, you can also bring your arm across to their opposite shoulder, impeding their movement while aiding yours. Emily Kwok has a handy tip too: if their foot is too flat, making it hard to get your heel in for a drag, shove under their heel with your knee to pry it up and create that space between their foot and the mat.
A very similar escape, which I don't use much, is the foot lift. Dean shows these two escapes in sequence on his awesome Blue Belt Requirements. The foot lift is for when they have some space underneath their in-step. People won't often do that, in my experience, but if they do, this time just step over your flat leg. Use your foot to hook underneath their instep and lift it over, then as before lock up half guard (your legs are already in position), or shrimp to recover full guard.
Make sure that you pay particular attention to shoving on their knee with this variation, as it is easier for them to slip free (though if that happens, you can always switch to the heel drag). With both escapes, it is important to get the knee of their trapped leg back behind your legs. If they still have their knee past your legs, it makes it much easier for them to move straight into a half guard pass, by driving their knee to the mat and sliding through.
Teaching Notes: I suspected something like that might happen, so wasn't overly surprised when Geeza rang me today to ask if I could teach. Fortunately this week is mount escapes, an area where I'm fairly confident of teaching material. Like I said last time, I wanted to rejig up my lesson plans for mount escapes, as I think elbow escape and heel drag goes together better than with the trap and roll.
A lot of people were forgetting to clamp down on the leg after shifting towards half guard, so I'll emphasise that more next time. I think I'll also review removing grapevines, as I could probably demonstrate the second option of bringing in a leg and stepping on their hook more effectively. Sparring was handy, although I think I learned more about being on top, as I didn't spar underneath much, except for a bit of progresive resistance.
So on top, cross facing (making sure to use your shoulder) is handy when they're getting up on their side and wriggling free. Crossing your feet under their bum, like I often do, works well but does mean they can stamp on your feet, which isn't comfortable. Then again, that serves as a good reminder to crawl up into their armpit and go on the offensive.
It's very common for people to snatch half guard and stall when sparring from mount. I generally say that people should keep on working from half guard if that happens, then if nothing is progressing reset in mount. I'm not sure what the best cut-off is: I was getting put in half guard a few times myself, which I took as an opportunity to practice working free, but there's a line: it's good to practice getting free of half guard as that is so common from mount, but not to the level where it takes away from practicing mount in general. Something to think about for next time. :)