How to Control Back Mount in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
The Best Way to Dominate Your Opponent in Back Control*
Coach Andrew here with some tips on how to lock in control from the back!
*So what’s with the asterisk? Well, the topic of this newsletter is back control, however the position may commonly be referred to as “back mount”. While the IBJJF makes a qualitative distinction between back control and back mount, the two terms are often used interchangeably when when discussing the positions amongst BJJ players. To score in back control the hooks must be in place whereas in back mount you must have at least one knee on the floor while straddling your opponent’s back (similar to the normal mount). Despite the technical differences, we use the two interchangeably throughout this discussion.
Now on to the good stuff :]
Control Extension and Control Rotation
Last month we talked about the Mount! Specifically, how to maintain good control from the top position. Landing your submissions becomes very difficult when every time you take a grip you’re bumped off and lose the position! Remember, we approached the “mount problem” by controlling our partner’s extension (e.g., push/press/bridge) and rotation (e.g., pull/pivot). These concepts are super important when we roll against a resisting opponent and try to advance our position or finish a submission. The concepts of extension and rotation should quickly become the largest tools in your toolbox. After all, once you develop yourself into a big enough hammer, everything is going to look like a nail! Now that you’ve got the mount under control— you might even say, it’s mounted? 0_o— let’s take a look at how to maintain solid back control.
What is the Goal in Back Control?
Last month’s mount discussion focused on keeping the mount by controlling our partner through extension; we pressed our hips into our opponent to keep them flat on the ground and inhibit their extension (i.e., bridge). The problem changes slightly in back mount as we are now concerned about our opponent’s ability to rotate. We can control our opponent’s ability to rotate by controlling their shoulder line! To get out of back mount, our opponent is going to try to rotate toward us and begin to break down our guard. Even if we’re up on the latest “inverted-reverse-de-la-worm-guard” (yes, that’s a thing) we’d be in a much better position if we just kept our opponent in back mount from the start. Let’s take a look at how to solve stop our opponent from escaping back mount!
How do we Control their Rotation?
When our opponent is trying to escape back control, it is important to stop them from rotating toward us. To do so, we need to connect to them and make our rotation dependent on one another. That is, they won’t be able to rotate themselves without rotating us as well. This dependent rotation makes it impossible for them to turn and face us. If we correctly make our relative positions dependent on one another, no matter where they go we will always stay behind them! How do we create this dependent rotation? Well, we need to figure out how to create pressure from the front and the back. Confused? Think about holding two hard cover books together. If you apply force to the back of only one book, the book with force applied will rotate but the other book will fall (or at the very least be pushed away). Alternatively, if we use opposing forces on the front and back of the book tandem, any force applied to one book will be transferred to the other. How do we go from books to people? We use a grip called the “seatbelt”.
What is the seatbelt exactly?
The seatbelt is when one arm (let’s call this the “helper” arm) goes underneath your opponents arm on the same side (i.e., right arm under right arm) and the other arm (the attacking arm) goes over their same side shoulder (i.e., left arm over left shoulder). The hands should meet on your opponent’s chest with the hand on the attacking arm making a fist that is being covered by the hand on the helper arm. Your attacking side shoulder should fit nicely behind your opponent’s head. Connecting the hands allows us to close the circuit and create torque. So naturally, elbows in and pull tight! The hands come into the chest, close both of your elbows, and your shoulders should twist into their shoulder and head. If this is uncomfortable for your training partner, good! Finally, we get into what we call the “good friends” position where you place your chin over their shoulder on the helper side. This will inhibit your opponent from moving in the only direction to escape. Feel free at this point to whisper some smack talk into your opponent’s ear, you should win this battle!
How do we finish from the back?
Now that we’ve created dependent rotation on the top half, we can finish by creating dependent rotation on the lower half. To control the hips, we need to get the hooks in. Getting the outside of your feet on the inside of your opponent’s thighs and twisting out attaches your hip to theirs and makes rotation of the lower half dependent. With dependent rotation now created at the hip line, your hands are free to choke your opponent! At this point, you can go for whatever finish you like: zipper choke, rear naked choke, Ezekiel, or even the unicorn choke (okay… I made this one up). Keeping the pressure at the hips makes it possible for you to work with your hands. Remember, when you move a brace or a fixed point something has to replace it! There are other hooks you can use once you learn them, just keep in mind that you are trying to stop your opponent from getting to the floor; your bottom hook is most important!
Practice creating dependent rotation in class. You can use the chair sit if your partner starts on their side, or, if your partner is starts in an unfamiliar shape (position) you can use some sweet trick (bait them into a roll) or some good old brute force to get their hip to the ground (e.g., hip heist, short roll, long roll). Either way, your goal is the same: attach first to the shoulder line and work your control down to the hips. Creating the dependent rotation at the hips will allow you to use your hands to get the submission.
Want to see some techniques of back control in real time? In our online series, we go over how to set up back control and the best ways to submit your opponent. Watch our online video series on the Back Mount here and let us know if you would like to see any more videos!
Interested in getting your friends or loved ones into Jiu Jitsu? What better place than to have them train with you at Robot Fight and Fitness, Los Angeles’s premiere Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training facility. Ask about our referral program so you can receive money when they sign up! Either call or contact us about a trial class to get them started.