Class 2014-03-03: Back Mount Defense

defenseHaving someone on your back pretty much defines failure in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  In competition, you’ve probably given up a lot of points by this time.  In sparring, you’ve miscalculated and are now in the worst possible position.  Is this the time to explode and violently escape?  No.  Now is the time to make sure you don’t screw up any worse than you already have and start regaining control of the situation.  To do that, you need a solid defensive posture. 

Basic Defense Posture

Just like the top mount, your goal is to keep control of your elbows and to protect your neck.  Other than your opponent’s position, your defensive posture is the same.  Your first instinct should be to protect your neck.  This is ideally done by crossing your arms and placing the backs of your hands along your jawline, blocking easy access to your neck.  This position allows you to parry attacks when you don’t know where or when the attack is coming.  The one thing you do know is your opponent wants access to your neck or your lapels.  When the inevitable attack happens, block with your hand and return your hand to the basic posture.

Your only goal when using this defensive posture is to survive long enough to start your escape.  Don’t jump the gun and try to escape before you have established the basic defense posture.  Starting escape without a good defense will only give your opponent more attack options and increase the risks to you.

Hand Fighting

If your opponent does get a grip on a lapel, treat it like any other grip and strip it if at all possible.  One technique that works well is to squeeze your opponents knuckles together.  It’s not to cause pain, but to weaken their grip.  Take a moment and feel the difference this makes on your own hands.  Make a fist with one hand, and place your other hand over your knuckles.  Squeeze as if you are trying to collapse your index and little fingers together.  Once they start to collapse, the grip strength of your two middle fingers goes out the window — grip defenestration, in the raw.

If you can’t strip the grip, treat the grip as if it’s eventually going to be turned into a choke.  A good tactic is to get a hand in behind the wrist, then drive your elbow to your waist.  This will get your arms in line with your body and make it more difficult to move the choking hand closer to the neck.

If your opponent has already achieved a seatbelt grip on your body, the choking arm that is over your shoulder is your biggest concern.  If you can’t get your hand behind the arm, at least apply downward pressure with your hand and be prepared for the other arm to be withdrawn and replaced as the choking arm.  If you maintain your hands near your neck, your opponent will have trouble getting good enough access to your neck and lapels to have a solid attack.


My favorite escape from the seated back mount involves letting gravity help me and getting my neck out of ideal range.  By loading my weight on my feet and driving my elbows towards the floor, I force my opponent to bear much of my weight.  The natural effect is for my hips to move forward, and I reinforce this with the same kind of motion as the butt scoot warmup drill.

After you have scooped as much as possible, your opponent should feel a lot of pressure on their legs, and they should have difficulty trying to pull you back into position.  By driving a single leg out and continuing the pressure on that side, you should be able to pop your opponents foot off of your leg.  Although it’s tempting to escape over that leg, your opponent still has too much control.  You should instead hip escape towards that leg, drive your opposite elbow towards the ground, then turn over on top of the leg that still has a hook.

The video does a good job of going through the basics of this escape, and it’s hard to describe well with just words.  The biggest thing to rely on is to float your hips and draw your body towards your feet.  This will ensure the scooping motion that leads to the rest of the technique working the way it should.


Once you have gotten out of range, your opponent will start looking for ways to apply a submission other than a choke, or they will look to transition back to a top mount.  If they have an arm underhooking one of your arms, the biggest danger you will have is dealing with an armbar attempt.


As always, defense is a temporary solution.  Once you have established your basic defensive posture, you can begin your escape while maintaining some semblance of safety.  Grip fighting, as always, is very important, and having an escape like the scoop in your arsenal will serve you well.  At all stages of your escape, you must retain control of your elbows and protect your neck.  If at any time either of those are left open, your opponent should see it and immediately attack.  Keep yourself safe, escape, and get back to making the roll yours instead of theirs.

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