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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

14 October 2019

14/10/2019 - Teaching | Back | Basic Maintenance

Teaching #907
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 14/10/2019

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.

Having said that, there are situations where you can cross your feet. The main one to avoid is crossing them in front, low enough that your partner can easily triangle their legs over the top. You can get away with crossing them up higher, though be aware that in competition you won't get any points. Another option where crossing your feet can conversely be a great control is a single hook, Marcelo Garcia style. One leg is in front, the other behind: this can be useful when you only have one hook (though again, it won't get you points in competition, despite being a good control).

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. This is very important, as most escapes will rely on them creating distance between your chest and their upper back. You also don't want them to put you flat on your back, like in the bridge escape, 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 (as long as you have your grips, otherwise it can be awkward to move into position for an attack).

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.

Often, you will find that you end up falling to one side. Ideally, you want to try and fall to your choking arm side (the arm that is over their shoulder), as if they try to escape that way and you have a choke partially locked in, they're moving deeper into the choke. It also means you have greater mobility, as falling to the other side your arm would be stuck under their armpit. Be sure to also keep your bottom foot hooked: if they clear the top one, you can recover, but losing the bottom one means it will be tough to prevent their escape.

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.

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Teaching Notes: You can only have head tight on the armpit side, that's worth noting. If they fall the other way, go for the choke, I guess? Also, Tom Barlow's tip on establishing the seat belt close to their armpit, harder for them to strip it away.

I reckon Charles' tips on kicking behind the legs could help here. I'm still not sure on the best format for the lesson, maybe that fits better in the 'regaining hooks' class? I do like mentioning the single hook, but it's possible I could put that all in the regaining hooks lesson. Next time, I'll try have the single hook stuff and Charles' material, see if that makes things too long or not.

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