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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

06 November 2014

06/11/2014 - Teaching | Mount | Upa Escape

Teaching #229
Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 06/11/2014

Like last time I taught this lesson, I'll start by discussing Rorion Gracie's seminal intro lesson in a little more detail. Rorion is largely responsible for expanding Brazilian jiu jitsu outside of his native Brazil. In the late '70s, he travelled to the US for a second time, with the intention of establishing BJJ in North America.

Initially he found work as an extra in Hollywood, while teaching BJJ out of his garage. Thanks to those connections, over the years Rorion was able to encourage actors, directors and writers to come train with him. Around 1990, Ed O'Neill had a part in a popular sitcom, Married With Children: his acting friends had been pestering him to give the Gracie Academy a go. To shut them up, O’Neill reluctantly agreed to try it out. Rorion, who has always had a knack for marketing, offered O'Neill a simple challenge. If Rorion sat on top of him, could O'Neill throw the much smaller Brazilian off?

O'Neill decided to accept: as a big guy, he reasonably thought it should be easy. However, try as he might, O'Neill couldn't budge Rorion from his position. Smiling, Rorion then suggested that perhaps O'Neill might find it easier to hold Rorion down. After the demonstration O'Neill had just felt, he felt that surely he would be able to use his size advantage to stay in place for at least a few seconds. However, again Rorion surprised him, with a quick reversal. O'Neill was hooked, and over a decade later, he earned his black belt. He tells the story himself in this video.

For what's called the upa escape from the mount ('trap and roll' is another common term), a typical starting point would be when they try to establish their first grip on your collar (or your neck, if you aren't wearing a gi) for a choke. That provides you with a chance to trap their arm. The usual grip would be to grab their wrist with your opposite hand, then just above their elbow with your other hand. This is the preferred grip on Gracie Combatives. The reasoning is that this grip prevents your opponent from drawing back their arm for a punch.

There are various other possibilities, such as the option I first learned, which was gripping their wrist with your same side hand, then grabbing the crook of their elbow with your opposite hand. That has the advantage of helping you wedge your elbow and arm into their chest, which provides additional leverage when rolling them over. Having said that, you can still use your elbow with the Gracie Combatives grip, it's just slightly less effective as your arm starts further away from their torso.

Whatever grip you choose, you then need to trap their leg on that same side. Otherwise, they will be able to use their leg for base as you attempt to roll them. In order to prevent that, step your same side foot over their lower leg, hooking it in tightly to your bum. This means they are now like a chair with two of its legs missing. If you feel your control is too loose, slide your foot further across towards the other side of your bum, which should eat up some more space.

Even if they can't post with their leg, they might be able to use their knee, so you want to have their leg as tightly locked to your body as possible. Also, be careful that you don't end up hooking both their feet, or leave your other leg in range of their hook. It is possible for the person on top to defend the escape by securing a hook with their free leg by your non-trapping leg. Therefore, try to keep the leg they might be able to control out of range.

A common problem is that you're having trouble trapping their foot, because it is too high up. If that happens, try using your elbow (or even your hand, if you need more reach, but that could leave your neck vulnerable) to shove their knee backwards, until their lower leg is in range. This is an advantage of the Gracie Combatives grip, as putting a hand behind their triceps puts your elbow in a good position for shoving back their knee.

Yet another option, if their arm is not in range, is to bridge enough to bump them forward, jamming your knee into them if you want more leverage. That should mean they are forced to post out their hands for balance, a difficult instinct to ignore. That puts their arm within reach. You can then wrap both of your arms around one of theirs, gable gripping your hands (palm to palm). Suck that arm into your chest, clamping it at the elbow.

To finish, you're going to bridge towards that trapped side. As with basic side control escapes, get your heels close to your bum first for maximum leverage. Bridge up and over your shoulder, turning to your knees: this puts you inside their guard. Make sure that you're bridging over your shoulder and not simply rolling over to your side. If you don't raise your hips properly, you may merely give up your back.

If you find you need more leverage, most commonly if they are posting with their free hand to stop your roll, you could attempt to dislodge that by pushing their arm off the ground. Alternatively, the legendary Rickson Gracie has a great detail, which he demonstrated in a video recently. Simply angle your head away from the shoulder you're rolling over: this increases your range of motion.

When you've successfully rolled them over, that puts you in the guard position. Remember to posture up when you reach that position: if you are leaning forwards, they can pull you down right into a submission.

Teaching Notes: The Rickson tweak was useful again today, as was knocking them in the bum with your knee. Making sure they're off balance helps a lot. It still isn't an escape I use a lot, but I'm trying to incorporate it more often. The problem is (and I guess this isn't a terrible problem to have ;D) is that the heel drag is so effect. Having said that, it's just a matter of sparring somebody who can stuff that heel drag, as that forces you to try something else. Like the upa, for example.

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