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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

03 September 2014

03/09/2014 - Teaching | Women's Class | Bridging Back Escape

Teaching #191
Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 03/09/2014

The first rule of the back position is protect your neck. There are lots of ways of doing that, but my preference is the Saulo Ribeiro method. One hand is in your opposite collar, the other hand floats, ready to block their incoming grips. Don't reach too far with that arm or you'll leave space: keep it near your chest. Your elbows are inside their knees, ready to pop off their hooks if the opportunity presents itself.

Next, bring your knee up on their choking arm side (so, the arm that is reaching over your shoulder and trying to wrap your neck, rather than the arm coming under your armpit). Angle your knee inwards, to prevent them from rolling you back the other way: they will find it easy to choke you if they can roll you in the direction of their choking arm. In one quick motion, move your head forwards and simultaneously shove their head sideways (this is presuming they know what they are doing and have their head tight to yours for control). Look towards them, keeping your head and neck firm in order to stop them moving their head back into place.

Push off your leg and bridge back, aiming to get your shoulders and spine to the mat. If you aren't able to get your head past theirs, still push off your leg. Put your head on the mat and then grind it underneath their head. This isn't pleasant for either of you, but it is generally effective: preferably you can get your head past theirs in the gentler method above. If you can, clamp your arm that is nearest the mat to your side, aiming to trap their arm. To really immobilise them, see if you can use that same arm to grab their opposite sleeve/wrist, meaning you're using one arm to control both of theirs.

With your near arm, grab their trousers by their top leg (either by the knee or a bit lower). When you have the opportunity, switch to grip with the other hand. There are several options at this point. I like to either reach across their neck and grab the gi, or better, reach under their head, grip the far armpit then lock my shoulder into their head and shoulder. Either way, push off your free leg and turn to try and come on top. With your grip on the knee, stiff-arm so they can't lock their half-guard (if they do lock their half guard, this puts you in the opposite side half guard pass position, so proceed from there). Free your leg (pushing on their leg if you need to) and move into side control.


Teaching Notes: From this lesson onwards, I'll be deviating from the Gracie Combatives structure I've drawn upon up until now, as it doesn't have enough positional coverage for my purposes (e.g., I want to make sure I'm including attacking, defending and maintaining for side control, mount, side control and guard, keeping it relatively clumped together for each position).

One thing I haven't included yet is any takedowns: one of the students asked about how you get things to the ground, so it would be worth maybe including some kind of super-basic, high percentage takedown in the warm-up. I wouldn't want a high amplitude throw, as I'm not sure I want to get in depth on stuff like breakfalls just yet. Something for me to think about: maybe the body fold? Or a simple single leg? Lots of options, though personally I'm not big on takedowns.

Tonight is probably the most complex technique I've taught so far in the women's class, especially the latter section. Teaching something to absolute beginners who have either never seen that position before or sparred from it really makes it clear when something has a lot of moving parts!

The bits that seemed to confuse people were stiff-arming into the leg using your far arm rather than the near arm. That's counter-intuitive and takes some getting used to. Reaching under the head for the cross-face control also took some time: it makes sense if you're used to cross-facing from side control and the like, but feels odd if not. The simpler drop the elbow and turn was easier to comprehend, but that did mean I also had to describe top half guard (though I think everybody picked it up: that also helped show why the cross-facing option is useful, due to the superior control it offers, at least IMO).

Looking at the picture of Xande doing a similar escape above reminds me that there is an option where you can use your near arm to grab their leg, if you're happy to move into guard rather than get on top. I prefer working for the dominant position, but going to guard is totally legitimate too. Once people have an understanding of guard, then that could be a good one to throw in. I could also try teaching that version next time, as it might reduce confusion due to using the intuitive arm.

In the interests of simplifying this particular technique further (it was even more confusing in previous lessons ;D), I've cut out a number of details from the main demonstration, saving them for drilling in case anyone needs extra pointers. So, to repaste them here, especially the second part about dealing with people remounting (I'm still not sure whether that should be in a separate lesson or not):

Due to your body slipping off to the side, they are probably going to try and come on top. To do that, they need to be able to turn their legs down and then away from you. Keep your legs in tight to block them: with your leg back, that forms an effective barrier to their efforts to turn. There are a couple of ways you can do that. The first one is hooking their top leg (if they're trying to turn on top, they'll be on their side) with your near leg. Get your foot towards your bum to lock their leg in place. Alternatively, step your near leg behind the knee of their bottom leg and pinch your own knees together.

When you are in the process of escaping, an alternative to the cross-face option I like is bringing your near elbow down past their body, on the inside. At this point, make sure you've got your outside knee angled towards them, once again for base. Shrimp away, get your near arm back, then turn straight into the leg squash pass position. I prefer to get control of the shoulder and head, so went with that option instead.

If you find they keep moving through to mount, the first option is to make sure you've got a really firm grip on their leg. You may be able to use that grip to prevent them getting to mount, as well as using it as a base point. Shrimp back and go to open guard. Alternatively, try shifting to deep half. I am not a big fan of deep half, as it is getting into the more complex territory I strive to avoid in BJJ. However, it's undeniably a useful option in this scenario.

You're attempting the escape as above, but they have managed to get their heel to your hip and you can't prevent them moving towards mount. Instead, shove their lower leg between yours, then reach underneath their bum with your near arm, reaching up and shoving their far butt cheek. That should knock them forward while simultaneously dragging you underneath.

Wrap around the outside of their leg with your bum-shoving arm, just below the knee. Hide your other arm underneath their leg, or at least tuck the elbow in tight: if their sleeve is in reach, grab it. The first thing they will try to do when you put them in deep half is underhook that hidden arm, meaning you want to take away any space for them to wedge in their arm. From there, pull their knee outwards and spin in that direction, in order to come on top and pass.

Next up in the mixed class right after, clock choke.

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