How Do You Maintain a Strong Mount in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
The mount is one of the most dominant positions in Jiu Jitsu, rivaled only by back control. One common problem, especially when attacking from the mount, is how to maintain that control. Like all problems in Jiu Jitsu, the issue of maintaining a strong mount can be solved by controlling the rotation (e.g., pulling/pivoting/etc.) or extension (e.g., pushing/pressing/bridging/etc.). What does that mean exactly? Our opponent (whom we have mounted) is likely trying to roll us by first driving off of the ground to extend through their hip and then rotating us off—the “upa”. Although there are many variables that might come into play over the exchange, one of the most effective ways to stop our opponent from initiating the escape by extending us is with well-placed grapevines.
Why are Grapevines Important?
Grapevines can be so effective because it gives us a way to nullify our opponent’s hip extension. By creating torque through a rotational force with our feet on our opponent’s ankles we can interrupt the extension that drives from their feet on the ground through their hips to allow them to roll us. Think about an electrical current flowing from a battery to a light. If one end of a wire were connected to the bulb and the other connected to the battery, the light would turn on uninhibited. If we interrupted the flow of electricity by placing a clamp on the wire, the energy would never reach the lamp to turn it on. In the mount, the grapevines are our clamp! Whereas our opponent wants to “turn on their light” and create an uninterrupted circuit of force from their feet thorough their legs into their hips to first extend and then rotate, our grapevines effectively throw a short in the circuit and redirect the flow of force back into our opponent! That’s why when someone mounts us with good grapevines, the harder we try to escape the more uncomfortable we become! They actually redirect our own force against us! Did somebody say “Jiu-Jitsu”?
Our opponent isn’t going to just let us keep them pinned to the ground, right? So, just like when we start from standing and grip fight, when we put the grapevines in we’re usually involved in a foot fight where our opponent is trying to disconnect our feet from their ankles. Until they break that connection all of the force they try to generate will be inefficient. Their first priority is going to be disengaging your grapevines!
How Do You Grapevine?
Experienced players may be very good at disconnecting your grapevines and if you don’t know the most important connections to maintain, their escape may not be so difficult. To avoid getting reversed, what is the most important connection to maintain? The opposite grapevine! Creating torque with only a single grapevine will stop the bridge. Why? Because controlling the opposite grapevine makes it impossible for our opponent to create the extension that is needed to allow for the rotation to complete the escape. Again, we are adding a short to the circuit and driving force back into them! This short is created when we place and remove the slack from the opposite grapevine. That is, if our opponent is trying to bridge right, we grapevine their left leg. With a grapevine on our opponent’s left leg any extension they try to create with that leg (to roll us to the right) will press back into their left hip and work against their own rotation keeping them flat.
Start From Where You Can:
Easier said than done, right? Of course not! Because we’ve been applying the principles of extension and rotation, torque and slack, to all of our positions we can use those ideas in mount as well! What if our opponent is insistent on keeping our feet off of their ankles? Just like when passing guard we focus on creating torque and controlling specific “checkpoints” along the way, we can do the same in the mount! Assuming you’ve effectively controlled the shoulders and have your hips pressing into your opponent’s, you have already controlled the shoulder and hip line. After all, you are already in mount… Great job! Because our pesky opponent doesn’t want to give us ankle control, we can start by placing our grapevines at their knees! You may need to rotate your grapevines out a little bit more than usual to create the necessary torque, but once you have control of the knee line it will be possible to continue down to the ankle line and create an even stronger shape. The process of working our way down from the hip to the knee to the ankle brings us closer to the end of the lever and makes our application of torque more efficient! Remember, with our grapevines in it is important to keep our knees off of the ground and extending our hip into the floor to maximize our pressure. If our opponent still insists on keeping our feet off of their ankles (aren’t they tired yet?!) we can just go back to the knees, rinse and repeat!
The grapevines give us an effective way to use our opponent’s own force against them to beat their hip extension. If we don’t allow them to extend their hip, there is no way they will be able to create the proper rotation to complete the reversal. Give it a shot over the next few weeks when you’re sparring in class. When you get to mount, create torque at the ankles with your grapevines and feel the pressure being pressed back into your opponent when they try to bridge. Once you’re comfortable with that, work on going back and forth from the knee line to the ankle line and try not to let in any slack. As you become supremely confident in maintaining mount, your feel more comfortable seeing different attacks, stringing them together, and have an easier time finishing!
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