- It gives the student in top position the ability to strike his mounted opponent without being struck back;
- It presents the student in top position with numerous submission options; and
- It allows the top student to keep his opponent pinned to the mat.
Conversely, the mounted student faces a number of disadvantages, including:
- Limited mobility;
- Lack of submission options; and
- Limited striking ability.
Therefore, it is imperative that all BJJ practitioners have at their disposal several options for escaping this position.
Mount escapes can be broadly placed into two categories: pure escapes and sweeps. As the name implies, a pure escape is any method that removes the bottom student from the mounted position. A sweep, on the other hand, generally involves the transition of the mounted student from bottom to top position, with the opponent ending up on his back. So, while each type of technique, discussed below, can accurately be described as an escape, they have slightly different outcomes. However, before describing our initial escape, a sweep, it is important to first discuss a general principle — preventing the high mount.
Preventing the High Mount
As a number of mount escapes involve bridging with the hips, the mounted student should make sure that his opponent’s weight is centered over them. When an opponent is positioned above a mounted student’s hips, the top player’s body is elevated during the bridging movement. Conversely, the higher the top student is able to move up the mounted student’s torso, the more difficult it will be for the bottom student to escape. When the top player is in high mount, the mounted student’s bridging movements will do little to move the top student. Therefore, upon being mounted, the bottom student should first establish a frame against the top student’s waist, using his arms and hands. This prevents the top student from advancing up the mounted student’s torso. When establishing a frame, the bottom student should be sure to keep his arms tight against his body to avoid armbars and other attacks. With the top student positioned over the mounted student’s hips, the bottom player may then safely initiate a sweep.
The Trap and Roll Escape (escape #4 in the above video)
One of the easiest and most effective mount escapes is the trap and roll escape. The trap and roll escape’s versatility makes it one of the most practical techniques in all of BJJ. It is an excellent self-defense technique, and it works at all levels of BJJ competition. The concept underlying this escape is that of “removing posts.” In other words, when an opponent is in top position, his ability to post a hand or foot on the mat must be removed in order to initiate a sweep. Without removing this ability, the opponent can simply place an extremity on the mat to prevent completion of the technique. The trap and roll escape is performed as follows:
- From the bottom mount position, using the hand closest to the side towards which you want to sweep your opponent, grab your opponent’s triceps.
- With the triceps secured, grab the wrist of the same arm with your other hand, securing it to your chest.
- On the same side as the trapped arm, place your foot outside and against your opponent’s foot, trapping his leg in place.
- Bridge your hips into the air, and roll in the direction of your opponent’s trapped arm and leg, landing on your knees in your opponent’s closed guard.
The Elbow Escape
- From the bottom mount position, establish a frame with your arms as discussed above to prevent your opponent from achieving high mount.
- Turn to your side, bringing your elbow and knee together under your opponent’s closest leg.
- Continue pushing against your opponent’s leg until you temporarily end up in the half guard position.
- From half guard, turn towards the opposite side, framing both hands against the opponent’s opposite leg.
- While pressing against the opponent’s opposite leg, perform a small hip escape to partially free your opposite leg.
- Perform one more small hip escape in the opposite direction, completely freeing your opposite leg.
- Place your legs around your opponent’s waist, completing the escape and achieving the closed guard position.
Mount Escape Training Tips
Like all BJJ techniques, mount escapes should be trained regularly. Below are a few fun ways to improve your escapes:
- Drilling – One of the cornerstones of BJJ training is drilling. After learning a new mount escape, the technique should be practiced repeatedly with a partner until it has been committed to muscle memory.
- Active drilling – As opposed to drilling, which should involve little to no resistance from your training partner, active drilling should be practiced “live”. In other words, one partner should attempt to escape from the bottom mount position as the top player provides active resistance.
- Rolling – A good method of training mount escapes is by purposely allowing your partner to achieve the mount during live rolling. Like active drilling, purposely putting yourself into inferior positions during rolling allows you to practice a technique under realistic conditions.
Become an Escape Artist!
While submissions are highly effective and lots of fun to learn, never lose sight of the fact that BJJ is first and foremost a self-defense martial art. And a huge part of self-defense is learning to escape from poor positions. After all, there is no use in learning submissions if you can’t put yourself in a position to use them! Therefore, all students should regularly practice escaping from inferior positions. Not only does perfecting your escapes make you a better all-around grappler, it actually makes rolling more enjoyable and allows you to better utilize your submissions! Look at it this way: when you’re no longer worried about getting stuck in inferior positions, you become more open to expanding your game and trying out new offensive techniques—a win-win situation!