Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 07/11/2016
The back is a great position to be in. There are lots of submissions, your opponent can't easily see what you're doing, and you'll also get four points in competition (once you've got your hooks in). The first thing to note is a basic safety point, which is don't cross your feet. If you cross your feet, then all your partner has to do is cross their feet over yours and bridge, footlocking you. Instead, you want to be hooking your insteps inside their legs, or digging your heels in. The idea is to generate enough connection with your feet that when your partner rolls to one side, you will roll with them.
Second, you want to get a good grip with your arms. The harness grip (as always, various other names, like over-under and seatbelt) is a solid option for both gi and nogi. Begin by getting an arm under their same side armpit, so they can't slide down (as otherwise they can go for the scoop escape). If they have a gi, you can help secure the position by grabbing their opposite collar. The other arm comes over their shoulder.
If you can't grab a collar, then link your hands together, using that to lock yourself in place. You could also grab under both arms grabbing a collar, which is a excellent way to hold them in place. However, that means both your arms are occupied: for attacks, you have more options if you keep one arm free, to go over the shoulder.
Your arm by the shoulder is the one you'll be looking to shift into their neck and/or grabbing a collar, where you can start working for a choke. Stephan Kesting advises that rather than linking hands, you can grab your own arm, which in turn means you are blocking the best grip your opponent wants to get. As ever, play around and see what you prefer.
Third, keep your chest pressed against their upper back. To escape, they need to create space, so don't let them have any: stay glued to their upper back. You also don't want them to put you flat on your back, like in the bridge escape we saw last week, as then they can start moving their hips. If you drop back, make sure you've moved to the side. However, your ideal position is getting them face down.
Fourth, follow them with your hips, similar as when you're in their guard. If you keep moving your hips to square back up whenever they try and shift away, that again stops them creating space.
Finally, you want to keep your head locked to theirs, providing additional control. It also helps you to see what they're doing. Otherwise, their head would be blocking your line of sight. Place your head next to theirs on the armpit hand side, as that way you're controlling both sides of their skull.
I finished off with the simple way of recovering mount from the back. They've cleared one hook and managed to put their shoulders onto the mat. It will be tough to regain your back mount from here, especially if they've moved over your leg. As soon as you feel their bum move past your knee, bring your remaining hook over their body and clamp the heel to their far hip. Make sure it is providing you with enough control that they can't simply shrug you off. Pull out your elbow for base, then turn and slide through into mount, using your heel for leverage.
Teaching Notes: This is one of several lessons I've been teaching for a while that feels basic, but is important for people to know. I feel like I could do with shaking it up a bit. The stuff I include is stuff people need to know, the question is how to best to organise it and make it as relevant as possible. What I should do is take a good look at where people tend to lose the back. Is it specifically from missing one of the elements I talk about in this lesson?
One thing I could emphasise more, like in the RNC choke lesson, is keeping your head tight to theirs. In terms of maintaining, if your head is jammed next to theirs, they will find it harder to move out to the side to get their back on the mat. They have to get past your head to do that.
I think next time, I'll split this lesson into two sections. First, those basic pointers, followed by some quick drilling to get that dialled in. Then, the switch to mount, along with the walking around to recover if you lose your hooks but still have the seatbelt.