Class 2014-06-23: Back Mount Transitions (Counters)

TransitionsYou never want to give up back control.  It’s the most dominant position, so there’s no good reason to transition to another less dominant position. . . unless you don’t have any choice.  When your opponent is escaping back control and you know you are going to be incapable of recovering back control, your only option is to counter their escape and cleanly transition to another dominant position. 

Back Mount Escape Counter to Side Control

While it’s not ideal to transition to side control, this is a very common position to transition to after losing the back mount.  Your opponent is attempting to establish side control as well, but you have positional advantage and should be able to win the exchange.

Your opponent’s first goal in this scenario is to get their back to the mat.  As soon as they detect that you are giving up on maintaining the back, they are going to try to prevent you from going to mount.  The most effective way for them to do this is to fight your knee that has to drive across their body.

Although it seems natural to fight the grip, establishing an underhook on the defending arm is far more important for guaranteeing side control for you.  Fortunately, your opponent’s grip on your knee facilitates getting your arm under their arm.  From here, drive for the underhook and drive your knee back to get side control.  Your opponent won’t be able to prevent you from pulling your knee back due to the underhook on their arm.

Back Mount Escape Counter to Mount

A slightly trickier position to get when losing back mount is to go to a top mount.  Your opponent knows you want this, and they are going to do everything they can to avoid you retaining some form of mount.

As with the last technique, we are assuming that your opponent has successfully put their back on the mat, and they are establishing a grip on your knee.  This opens up the first of two important elements, which is hooking your heel on their hip or leg.  Even if they are able to push on your knee, they can’t control your foot, and they don’t necessarily have the reach to push your hook off just by pushing on your knee.  As they shrimp out, keep your heel connected and use it as an anchor to ride with them.

As you maintain that hook on their body, you are going to do several things simultaneously:

  • Drive your top arm across their body and up above their head.  Treat this as if you are going to be doing normal mount maintenance, where you already have mount and are spreading out your arms at a 45 degree angle to keep strong posts.  Normally when transitioning to mount from side control you want an underhook, but if you have your foot hooked on their hip/leg and you are driving your knee, the underhook is going to be more difficult to get, and in this case it’s not as necessary.
  • Push off the floor with your other hand to help establish mount.
  • Slide your feet down towards the knees, again as if you are headed towards mount maintenance.  This motion will also help keep your top knee closer to your opponents body.  In turn, pressure on your knee will be translated into the exact motion you want and their pressure will tend to be redirected down their body instead of away and to the side so that they can shrimp out of reach.

That sounds more complicated than it is.  Towards the end of the video you can see the solo version of this motion, and it is best thought of as establishing a good mount maintenance position, where your feet are hooking the knees, your hips are the focus point of all your weight, and your hands are out and only lightly touching the floor to keep your opponent from getting a quick upa escape.


The only time you should be considering these options is when you have lost your ability to maintain mount, and your opponent is able to get their back to the floor.  They know you want mount, so you can depend on them blocking your knee to prevent you from getting an easy top mount.  This makes their position more predictable, and these techniques give you a way to at least maintain a dominant position, if not the best dominant position.

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