Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 25/01/2017
The best two ways to escape submissions are the two answers nobody wants to hear: don't get caught in the first place, or tap. There isn't much more to be said about the latter, but in terms of the former, from a closed guard perspective, there is plenty. To begin, you want good posture, keeping your head up. To submit you from closed guard, your partner will generally need to get control of your head (e.g., that's a key part of the triangle and most other chokes, it's important for armbars too). You also need to be careful where you're putting your arms, in particular the position of your elbows. If your elbows are behind their legs, then they will have a lot of trouble submitting you. Therefore whenever you feel at risk of a submission, attempting to bring your elbows back is probably going to help.
Looking specifically at the triangle, there are three escapes I will try, early, middle and late. The early option is to rely on posture. When they go for the triangle but haven't yet locked anything up, explode upwards and maintain a strong upright posture. To get their legs over your head, they necessarily need to bring your head down: if they can't do that, then they can't triangle you from guard. Also, make certain that you are never in a position where you have one arm inside their legs and the other out, unless the elbow of that one arm is safely behind their legs (e.g., in certain variations of underhook passes).
Once they've begun to lock on the triangle but haven't fully cinched it in, the middle escape option I like to try is grabbing their top knee (i.e., of the leg that is over their other leg). Drive that to the ground, then getting your bum high in the air, push all your weight through that knee. The aim is to pop open their lock, in order to free your head and arm from the triangle. Finally, the late option when all else fails and they are getting tight is to stack them up as much as you can, walking your leg around until you can step it over their head. Using the leverage of your leg against their head, again try to pop open their legs to escape.
Whenever you manage to break open the lock, be careful that they can't switch to another submission. If you leave your arm extended (perhaps because you've been pushing on them to desperately create some leverage), they may well grab that to move into an armbar, or possibly swivel into an omoplata. The armbar, triangle and omoplata all combine into a flowing sequence, meaning you need to stay vigilant you aren't leaving yourself open to a second submission attempt in the process of escaping the first one.
Teaching Notes: My 'general' section at the start was to tell people to keep their head up and elbows back. I find that's a useful principle to keep in mind with pretty much any escape, plus it doesn't take long to quickly point that out. I guess I could drop it in future, but I'll see how my submission escape lessons go. On the middle escape, I'll emphasise driving the knee to the mat and getting your bum in the air. People were staying too low, meaning they weren't getting as much weight through the knee as they could. It would also be worth highlighting that you don't have to actually break the legs open. You just need enough space to bring your arm back, then you can turn it into a pass.
On the late escape, I'll point out that you follow the leg that steps over with your other knee, to help your balance. I.e, the knee will go to their bum, hip etc, depending how far your other leg steps and how long your limbs are.