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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

14 May 2013

14/05/2013 - Teaching (Running Escape)

Teaching #108
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 14/05/2013

Quick update from it looks like there is going to be a Grapplethon in California on the 8th June. I'm waiting on further details so I can hopefully publicise the event, but for now I've added it to the events schedule on, here. The fundraising for the GrappleThon in Support of RapeCrisis is continuing, with a current total of £8,611. You can still donate here. Oh, and if you haven't already Liked the GrappleThon Facebook page, that's here. :)

Last time I spent a good while on the running escape as a survival posture. Today I originally wanted to focus more on the actual escape techniques, but then caved in to the easy option and just repeated the structure from last time.

Kicking off with those tips on the running escape as a survival posture, I first pointed out the importance of blocking their arm from reaching through past your hip. Ideally you want to block that by jamming your forearm to your thigh, so that you elbow is by your hip. This will need to be mobile, as they will be trying to wriggle past.

Putting your arm under your knee can work too, depending on your flexibility, but be careful of reaching too far under your leg. It may leave you vulnerable to them collapsing your leg on top of your arm, trapping both limbs (unless you're flexible enough to get your heel right to your hip, which should be a strong enough structure to prevent that).

If they do manage to get their arm in, dig it back out using your elbow and knee. You can also drive your shin into the crook of their elbow and recover your position, or potentially try and recover guard by spinning off that leverage point (Beneville calls this the 'shin in elbow trick' in his book). I should note that it is possible to escape while their arm is through (Marcelo teaches it that way, IIRC), but personally I find it much tougher when they have that arm through.

The second survival tip is being very careful of their attempts to take your back. Especially if they have an arm through and can reach your opposite hip, they will try to lift you up and slide their leg underneath. That will then help them to put in their hooks and take the back. If they do start to take your back, block their second hook with your elbow and knee (in the same way you were blocking their arm), hopefully setting you up to either get back to the running escape, or perhaps starting a pass off the back escape. Blocking the first hook with your hand is another possibility, but that could potentially leave your neck vulnerable.

Which leads into the third point: protect your neck. You are relatively safe in the running escape, but if they can reach a hand past your neck and grab a collar, that's dangerous. If you feel their hand beginning to sneak past your shoulder, immediately dive your head into your lower armpit. It is a strange position, but that motion should close off their route to your neck. This isn't somewhere you want to stay very long: just enough to prevent that choke set-up.

Moving on to the actual escape, saulo's version in Jiu Jitsu University (p69), which begins by making a little space and turning to the survival posture, links directly to his knee on belly escape. I normally just teach that knee on belly escape as a drill for my open guard maintenance lesson (e.g., back in October), as the swinging motion is a useful skill to learn. However, in his book, Saulo uses that motion to recover his guard from under side control, rather than the swivel he uses in Jiu Jitsu Revolution 2 (he does a much quicker version in his first set, Jiu Jitsu Revolution 1).

The risky part is as you're swinging through with your legs in the air: if your partner is prepared and you aren't able to perform that motion smoothly and efficiently, they may be able to set up a double-underhook pass. It is therefore important to clamp your legs down as Saulo does in the last picture, rather than leaving them dangling and vulnerable. If they do get that double underhook, make your legs heavy, wriggle back on your shoulders, then hook your insteps inside their thighs.

Saulo has a little tweak to this guard recovery option, which I noticed on his new instructional site, BJJ Library (review now up, here). It may be he did this previously, but it was highlighted on the running escape video I watched last week. In the past, I have used a wide base, securing my weight on my shoulder and two feet. The way Saulo did it in the video was with a much narrower base, pushing off with his feet straight from the running escape position rather than stepping out to wide the legs. He also makes more of a push with his hips into them, staying close, rather than a swing. If you can manage to push them with your hips, that leaves less space for them to move right into the double-underhooks pass.

Be careful to time your escape, staying sensitive to their weight distribution. If they are driving into you with lots of pressure, it will be hard. A good moment to attempt the escape is when they are looking to attack or transition to another position. Often, there will be a brief moment before they start when they take their weight off you. That is the time to spring the escape.

It is possible that the person you are training with won't often use near side grips from side control. Speaking personally, I tend to go for the orthodox grip under the head and the far arm. That doesn't mean you can't use the running escape, it simply means you have to put yourself into position, forcing them to use near grips. All you need to do is make enough space that you can turn away and curl into a ball.


Teaching Notes: I at first wanted to try and include the 'new' version of the running escape I'd watched (or new to me at least), which Saulo calls the 'quarter escape' on BJJ Library. However, I decided I really didn't understand that technique well enough, particularly after practicing it right before class. But to mention it here, it combines the orthodox escape method with the first part of the running escape: you don't actually spend any time in the running escape posture. It is a sort of pre-emptive escape with less of a middle step. As soon as you are able to clear your shoulder, immediately shrimp out, turning towards them. This is not a typical shrimp, as you walk back on your shoulders to recover your guard.

Pushing with the hips helps, though lots of people were getting knocked over in drilling (which is unlikely to happen in sparring). I think it was a good idea to add in a more thorough discussion of the defence to the stack pass: though it doesn't quite fit into a side control escape lesson, I think it makes sense as that would be my main worry when trying the leg swing guard recovery. Of course, as Jeff Rockwell (or was it jnp? Maybe both of them) taught, the way they can stop the guard recovery more simply is by anticipating your swing and jamming their head by your outside hip.

I'm not sure I saw anybody use the second option at all, which I mentioned briefly (basically, you turn into guard) so I don't think I'll bother including that next time. Instead, I'll focus more heavily on the leg swing. Although I still want to keep trying the turn in sparring, so I can work out the kinks. On that score, I annoyingly found my stupid groin injury flared up again: it's just refusing to go away! Grr.

Next time, I think I'll include the turn at the start, coupled with the survival tips. I can then focus purely on the leg swing guard recovery in the second option, which should make for a more streamlined lesson.

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