Every student prioritizes learning how to execute BJJ submissions and finishing them. Hardly would anyone come across a BJJ student who focuses on how to escape or reverse a submission.
In truth, there’s wisdom in spending precious mat time learning and mastering escapes from Jiu-jitsu submissions — especially for the Jiu-jitsu white belt.
Every Jiu-jitsu white belt will be on the receiving end of an armbar, triangle, or rear naked choke at some point. Even black belts can’t avoid them sometimes. Plus, if black belts train escapes, what excuses white belts, right?
Training to improve your escapes from BJJ submissions is equally crucial to drilling submissions. At the white belt level, it might even be more important. But which escapes should take up a bulk of a white belt’s mat time?
There are as many escapes as submissions and reversals in BJJ, just ask guys like Keenan Cornelius and Eddie Bravo. But we at Granite Bay Jiu-Jitsu have seen that a white belt fares well later on by mastering these three must-know escapes from Jiu-jitsu submissions.
There are many ways to get out of a triangle, but this is the easiest one, with an excellent attempt-to-success ratio. It’s essential in a BJJ athlete’s escape toolkit.
The elbow-down triangle escape works by creating the breathing space necessary for lasting the entirety of the move. This allows the athlete to be in a position where the opponent cannot finish the triangle, forcing them to abandon the attempt.
During a triangle choke, the opponent will shoot both legs upwards and trap one of the athlete’s arms. The trapped arm and the squeezing force generated by the legs are what create the pressure for the choke.
For this reason, the athlete should first slide the trapped arm across the opponent’s hip. The athlete does this until their hand makes it to the middle of the opponent’s hip and the elbow touches the mat. This gives the athlete space to breathe.
With the elbow on the mat and both hands on the opponent’s hips or stomach, the athlete needs to move their knees closer. They should be close to the opponent’s thighs. As the athlete moves their knees forward, they need to be assuming an upright position.
From here, the athlete can then explode into an upright position by pushing hard onto the opponent’s stomach. The upward force generated will cause the opponent to let go of the choke.
Armbar attempts are one of the most commonly attempted Jiu-jitsu submissions in any academy. One easy escape is the elbow drop escape. It involves sliding the trapped arm until the elbow can make contact with the mat. The escape must be explosive and forceful to prevent the opponent from finishing the armbar.
The athlete must attempt the submission escape before the opponent finishes the armbar. As the opponent tries to hyperextend the elbow, the athlete needs to grab their wrist and pull it closer to their chest. From here, the athlete needs to keep turning towards the opponent.
As the athlete shrimps and turns, they need to drive the elbow to the mat as soon as it gets past the opponent’s hip. With the elbow on the mat, the athlete can simply pull the arm out and avoid the armbar.
After pulling the arm, the athlete can step over while pushing the opponent’s legs to the side. This puts the athlete in either side mount or knee-on-belly. In MMA, the athlete can also back away and allow the fight to continue on the feet.
Easy to execute, this is one escape every Jiu-jitsu white belt needs to master.
The best way to escape from a submission is to prevent positions where their opponent can attempt or finish them. For many BJJ athletes, these positions are the bottom of the mount and side mount. Escaping from these positions will require simultaneous pushing and moving of the hips — or “shrimping.”
Shrimping enables the white belt athlete to create some space between their hips and the opponent. With the space, the white belt can transition to guard. Or, if the athlete is fast enough, they can get back to a standing position.
First, let’s talk about how to shrimp from the bottom of a mount. The athlete needs to turn slightly towards one of the opponent’s legs and push it forward. As the athlete pushes the leg forward, the athlete needs to shrimp. As the athlete pushes the opponent’s leg farther forward, the athlete can trap the leg.
This will bring the athlete into half guard, which is a better position. If the athlete desires the full guard, the athlete can repeat the steps on the other leg.
Shrimping out of side mount is similar. The only difference is that when shrimping out, the athlete needs to push the opponent’s hips and neck. Also, shrimping out of side mount is more about pushing oneself away than pushing the opponent away.
Pushing and shrimping prevents the opponent from establishing tight control. Hence, while shrimping, the athlete can either move to guard position or stand back up if a lot of space is created.
The trap and roll escape is another escape from the bottom of the mount. To execute the escape, the athlete needs to take out the opponent’s upright position to trap one arm.
The athlete can eliminate the opponent’s upright posture by bridging and kneeing the opponent’s buttocks. This will cause the opponent to fall forward, breaking the fall with hands on the mat.
When the opponent does this, the athlete needs to trap one arm. Holding it under the armpit, the athlete needs to bridge and roll on the same side as the opponent’s trapped arm.
The resulting position will be the athlete on top of the opponent’s guard. Because of this, the move doubles as an escape and as a reversal.
As any Jiu-jitsu white belt knows, tapping is a certainty. Hence, there’s no shame in prioritizing escapes and reversals before getting gung-ho with bjj submissions. Sure, a white belt might not be submitting people left and right, but it’s as Helio Gracie says:
“The first step to victory is to not lose (tap).”
If you’re seeking the first of many keys to victory in competition, try a free week at Granite Bay Jiu-jitsu.