After you’re finished reading this post, check out two more really nice back escapes.
Last night, we did a few passing guard, defending the back and defending turtle position drills. Passing and defending guard is a given. Those are probably two of the most common situations we come across in Jiu-Jitsu. It’s really a no-brainer that we, as students, need to work on those areas.
When it comes to defending the back and turtle position though, I think we’d all rather be practicing armbars and triangles. Back and turtle aren’t very pleasant situations to be in and I think as a whole, we’d rather avoid talking about them altogether. All the better to bubble them to the surface and get proficient at what we need to do to take care of business.
In this post, I’m going to talk about defending your back. I’ll leave turtle for another day, as I’m sure there’s a number of techniques and escapes we can cover. Too much for this post.
As a matter of fact, I’m reading about back escapes right now in “Jiu-Jitsu University.” I received the book a few days ago and decided to start from the beginning. I figured it can’t hurt.
I’d like to start off by saying that escaping the back is tough. It’s probably one of the biggest fights you’ll find yourself in while fighting in Jiu-Jitsu. And there’s one overwhelming reason why – because you can’t see your opponent. You have no idea what they’re doing and how seriously they’re taking their attempts at submitting you. You don’t know if they’re on the edge of giving up or hammering down. And because of this, you can’t really gauge your movements to match theirs. As they say, “You’re flying blind.”
This might be part of the reason why we’d much rather be drilling armbars. They’re more predictable. The back is dreadful.
There’s another reason the back is perceived to be difficult to defend and that reason is that your arms can’t bend backwards. Because of this, you can’t use strength to get you out of a sticky situation. I would argue that lack of arm use isn’t the greatest drawback to having your back controlled because there are techniques that you can use to mitigate your opponent’s offense. This is what Jiu-Jitsu essentially is – the use of technique, balance and leverage.
Defending the back though, is a worthy challenge because it forces you to rely on what I just mentioned above. If we face facts, we’ll most likely agree that we’re not going to just “fall” out of someone’s back control by accident. Neither are we going to thrash about, finding ourselves released from their clutches. What we need to do is systematically stop them from accomplishing what they’d like to accomplish.
And what is that? What is it that they’d like to do while holding you in back control? I know for certain, the final goal is submit you, but between the moment they captured you and the time they submit you, it’s a battle for them as well.
I’m sure they’d like to:
1. Keep you in back control, by
2. Keeping their hooks (inner and outer)
3. Keeping their over-under, seatbelt grip
4. Work their grips onto your collars
5. Stop you from escaping
It’s that simple. There’s only so much they can do to you while holding you in position (for this post’s purposes) and every mistake they make is an opening for you. The trick is to force them to make mistakes.
Early on, I was taught that the first thing you should do when getting caught in someone’s back control is to protect the neck. And through the years, that hasn’t changed. If you don’t protect your neck, you’re screwed. And you’re screwed fast. And the better the player you’re up against, the faster you may miss the chance to protect. They may have a choke set up even before they set up back control. For them, taking back is a mere formality.
Anyway, protecting the neck is vital and there are many ways one can go about it. Saulo Ribiero likes to call this holding area the “back survival position.” And that’s pretty much what it is. Again, if you can’t stifle your opponent at this stage, all else is moot.
The tricky part of defending and escaping back control is that you’ve got to stop someone (who you can’t see) from trying to choke you. And at the same time, you’ve got to release yourself from their hooks or body lock. If you use your hands in an effort to unbind yourself from their legs, you just invited a choke and if you use your legs, there’s a real chance you’ll just end up looking like a fool, flopping around in someone else’s playpen.
What I’m finding out more and more is that the real trick to escaping back control is to use your body. And just as a reminder to make ourselves feel better, there is no real graceful way to escape back against a very good player. That’s why we see so many competitors on the world stage using all their effort to take back. It’s a real bear to deal with once it’s sunken in.
I’m going to post a few videos below that demonstrate, from a few sources, various ways from escaping back control. While watching them, I want you to focus on three parts of the escapee’s body; the top, the middle and the bottom. The top is their hands and arms, including elbows. The middle, including their stomach and hips and the bottom, including their legs and feet. What is each area’s job? What are the requirements needed for success? How does body movement assist the escape?
Also, look closely at how the “controller” reacts to each movement of the escapee. What do they need to do to counter each escape attempt and how does each attempt weaken the control? I think you’ll learn a lot by doing this. Remember to look at concepts instead of a glossary of techniques you’ll have trouble remembering.
Jiu Jitsu / BJJ Technique: Defending Your Back
Phil Migliarese – Jiu Jitsu Back Control Concepts – BJJ Weekly #052
Seatbelt Control, Taking the Back, Rear Naked Choke