Escapes: Secret to Freeing Up Your Jiu-jitsu

We all want to add new techniques to our jiu-jitsu. But trying new techniques in rolling comes with a price: these new techniques are bound to fail at first. When that new sweep or triangle setup fails, your guard gets passed and you end up pinned underneath heavy side control.


This is a strong discouraging factor in trying new techniques. Maybe you should have just stuck with what you always do and NOT end up with your guard passed?

Don’t give up yet.

I got a piece of advice long time ago that REALLY helped free up my jiu-jitsu and gave me confidence to try new things in bjj: “Work on your escapes and defense first!”

How does working on my positional escapes and submission counters free up my offense?

If you train your escapes, you will become much more confident that if your guard gets passed, that you can replace the guard and try again. Even if your triangle setup fails, you can quickly replace and try another time.

We must always remind ourselves that the primary purpose of training is NOT to just win. The most important thing to remember in rolling is to get better! We get better when we are trying new things and trying to incorporate new pieces of information that we learned in class.

Example: I wanted to work on my guard submissions (setups for omoplata and triangle) but I was getting passed often by purple belts as I worked out the details of the new techniques.


I took a step backwards and worked on 2 things:
1) Guard retention
2) Escaping from side control back to guard

Once I had improved these 2 areas – I had renewed confidence to attempt my new submissions.

This little “secret” REALLY freed up my jiu-jitsu game and I applied this to all of my other positions. This will be easier to execute against training partners that are a level or 2 below your experience level. I recommend that you first try your new techniques against less experienced partners and gradually increase the level of your opponents.

Escapes build your confidence and open up your jiu-jitsu game to improve seemingly unrelated positions.

read also on Gracie Barra : Become A Master Of Escapes!
Credits: Mark Mullen 
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ