There are few things more frustrating than be caught in a bad position and being unable to escape. Of course you learn hundreds of counters and escapes during a year of classes and in that year you rep each counter or escape hundreds of times during classes (if not thousands of times). However simply repping technique is not enough to prepare you to escape bad positions. You must drill escaping bad positions during sparring! How do you do this? Easy. Start your sparring sessions from bad positions! Starting out in an inferior position is a good way to rapidly improve your pin escapes and submission counters. It is also a great way to challenge yourself if your training poolo for the day consists of lighter weight or less experienced people.

Here are a few ways ideas to start with:

  • Begin sparring with your training partner pinning you in mount, side mount or even rear mount. Have them attack relentlessly from that position and not just hold on for dear life. Reset when you either tap or you escape into a neutral position (e.g. guard or standing).
  • Allow your partner to get the armbar! Clasp your hands and begin working your defenses! If you escape reset – if you tap keeping trying!
  • Start the round in the turtle position with your partner on top (no hooks) and with any grip he wants..
  • Allow your partner to shoot the triangle! Now work your escpaes! If you tap start again – if you escape allow him to get back to guard and shoot another triangle.
  • Start standing with your partner grabbing both of your legs behind your knees as though he has just shot in on a double leg. His goal is to take you down and your goal is to escape or counter his takedown. (you could also do similar drills from a single leg, high crotch, low single, or double unders position)

Get creative and drills any other bad position you can think of; particularly ones that you have difficulty escaping from in sparring or tournaments. Similiarly get inventive with how you drill. You could simply start your sparring session in this position and if you escape then just continue sparring until the round ends or someone taps. Perhaps when you escape from your positional predicament stop and immediately go back to the same position. You and your partner can even try changing positions after each submission or escape so that you can both get the benefits of being on top and on bottom. Remember these drills benefit every body – while you are working on your mount escapes he is working on maintaining the mount position and attacking.

Keep in mind this method of training is not for those of you with fragile egos! Understand this: if you let people start in a dominant position you WILL GET TAPPED more often in training. On the other hand, your ability to defend against submissions and escape from bad positions will skyrocket so that when you do get caught in a bad position you won’t panic – Escaping becomes as easy as falling off a log!