Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 27/04/2016
Armbars are the most common attack in all of BJJ, according to US Grappling statistics, so it's worth knowing some escapes. An early option is to immediately link your hands together to give you some time. Swing your legs up and down, generating the leverage to sit up. Turn, bringing your elbow to the mat, coming to your knees and starting to 'stack' your partner. That means you are now escaping an armbar from the guard rather than the mount. Gradually jerk your trapped elbow free, maintaining pressure on them, then move around to side control.
If the armbar is deeper, or your opponent is more savvy (e.g., if they put an arm on the floor to prevent you sitting up), you won't be able to complete the first escape. Instead of linking your hands together, grab your collar with the arm they're attacking. This won't hold them off for long, but should give you enough time to use that free hand to grab the leg over your head. Do a powerful straight bridge, simultaneously pushing that leg off your head. Wriggle to get your head on top of their thigh. From here, maintain that arched position from the bridge, then turn towards them and get to your knees. That puts you in their guard, a big improvement on being armbarred.
Should it be too late for either of the first two escapes, your last ditch option is the hitchhiker escape. They have stretched out your arm and are about to apply the armbar. Turn the thumb of your trapped arm down to the floor. Walk your legs around towards that hand, turning your body as you do. If they are going for a 'Japanese' armbar (with one foot by your near side, rather than both feet on the far side), this becomes much easier. If they have both feet over, you'll need to push one of the feet away as you turn. Keep in mind this is a late escape, meaning you need to be ready to tap in order to avoid injury.
Teaching Notes: I'm always looking to vary up my lessons each month, with at least one or two that I either haven't taught before or haven't taught for a long while. This month I wanted to throw in some submission escapes: Gustavo Machado's excellent 2006 DVD proved very helpful on refreshing my memory, as well as providing a good sequence to follow.
I like the hitchhiker and it's a legitimate escape, but it is a bit risky compared to the others, so I'll emphasise that you need to be ready to tap. I'm also not sure just how much to arch on the leg push and bridge. The main thing is getting your head down enough to turn, so I'll have a play with that. I wouldn't normally teach quite that many variations in one class, but the three options seemed to fit together ok: nobody was overwhelmed, as far as I could tell, but I'll keep an eye on that for next time. If you already know the armbar from guard escape, it becomes easier, so this could be good to combine (especially if I decide to follow mount with closed guard at some point, to mix things up. I normally follow it with the back).