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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a purple belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

26 October 2016

26/10/2016 - 10 Year BJJ Anniversary | Teaching | Mount | Heel Drag Escape

Teaching #581
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 26/10/2016



Today marks ten years since I first walked into a BJJ school for a class. It's been a great ten years, I'm looking forward to the next decade. :D

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My personal favourite mount escape is the heel drag, by far the highest percentage way for me to get out from under mount. It's also quite simple, 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. I recommend just lifting your shoulder slightly, rather than turning all the way on your side: that prevents exposing your back too much. Make sure that your neck is safe if you mess up and they do manage to start turning to technical mount. 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 window of opportunity as they're adjusting 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 where you'll slightly on your side), wedge an elbow inside 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 (I prefer the latter). 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.

A video posted by Artemis BJJ (@artemisbjj) on


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, slide your flat leg outside to roll their heel up. That will create the space you need in order to insert your heel 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 excellent 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.
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Teaching Notes: What a great class! I had a really good day today. Putting up that photo collage at the top on Facebook gots lots of comments and likes, resulting in a few people I haven't spoken to in years getting in touch. One of them, Mark, now said he was going to meet up for some training, which is awesome. It's been aaaages since I last trained with him. Also, Artemis BJJ co-founder Dónal appeared in class tonight too, for the first time in a long time. He also said he was looking to get back on the Artemis BJJ mats, which would be amazing. ;D



I am very familiar with this technique and class so not much to add. As ever, emphasising keeping the elbows tight is important, I'll continue pushing that. I haven't yet come up with a suitable analogy: I went with "imagine your ribs are powerful magnets and your elbows are made of metal." What would be best is a drill test that. Maybe just purely have person on top trying to get inside the elbows, person on the bottom keep them jammed to their sides? That might be worth doing.

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