Back Attacks

Back control with hooks in is a very powerful position in BJJ. From here your opponent has almost no attacks available to him. The position works against his body mechanics in such a way as to render him fairly helpless. In BJJ it is considered to be the ultimate position by most people. Because of this escaping the back has been a strong topic of study in BJJ gyms. Most BJJ blue belts and above have solid skills in escaping this position. We’ll look at 3 different versions of this back control and how the bottom guy might try to escape.

Hooks in Belly Down

Here you have your hooks in the top guy. He’s in quarter position and defending his neck. The natural offense from this position is the rear naked choke. More than any other submission you see this one from here. There are a few cautions that you need to keep in mind in trying this from belly down back control however.

  • Keep your hips low on his hips. If your hips slide upwards towards his shoulders he’ll be able to tump you off towards the front corners. Especially if you haven’t captured a strong control of his upper body.
  • Double underhooks or harness is safest from here until your break their hips down. Don’t get both your arms above their shoulders until you do that.
  • Keep driving with your hips into them. Keep that pressure strong.  This locks your hips to theirs in a strong way and helps prevent them from being able to move under you.
  • Break them down BEFORE you go for RNC. This will ensure that they can’t tump you off as you attempt the choke. Besides, if you can flatten them to the mat then they can’t fight the choke nearly as well.
  • Once flat they are done. Prioritize this over the choke.
Don't try the RNC here until you break them down first! Keep at least one arm below the armpits. 

Don’t try the RNC here until you break them down first! Keep at least one arm below the armpits.

Posture broken down. Go ahead and RNC all you want! 

Posture broken down. Go ahead and RNC all you want!

Hooks In- Both Seated

Here you have your hooks in and both you and your partner are in a seated position. You are in no danger of being rolled here. Your opponent can get his feet to the mat to create pressure. He can also move his hips. Some key points in this position to remember.

  • A strong upper body control is necessary. The upper body control is what allows you to control the hips. Because the bottom guy can get his feet on the mat he has strong shrimping and slumping ability with his hips.
  • You are sitting on your hips so they aren’t very mobile. The pulling effect of your heels to keep the top guy close isn’t as strong in this position.  It’s not as easy to drive your hips into them.
  • Don’t let them slump! Keep their upper back on your chest. If they slump down they take away most of your subs and your ability to control them.
  • Upper body control with his upper back to your chest  without hooks is OK.
  • Hooks in without upper body control is OK.
  • If you have neither upper body posture/control or hooks you are in trouble.

Upper Body Control

Upper body control in this position is key. You can do it in several ways.

  • Harness- One arm over and one under. When you harness you need to have chest to upper back pressure. Keep the pulling energy to hold him in place.
  • Double unders grabbing your wrists- There aren’t as many sub transitions from here but it is an easier holding position. Use it if the bottom guy is giving you fits.
  • Double unders with double lapel grabs. This gives you strong leverage with the gi. It’s easier to hold and harder for the bottom guy to remove. It also opens up the collar for later gi chokes.

Hooks in Back on Mat

In this position you have your back to the mat and your opponent is on your belly with his back to you. This is a strong position and meant as a way to take the other guy’s hips out of the picture. In this posture your opponent’s hips are in the weakest position. Because of that the posture is key.

Lower body hips and leg posture.

  • Keep his hips above yours. You can’t let him roll to the side and begin to separate his hips from you. Your hips should be directly below him at all times.
  • He has to put his feet on the mat to attempt to put you on your side. When he does this you can remove a hook and reposition yourself under him.
  • If he does get to the side AND you can’t get back under him, remove a hook and place it behind his knee to prevent him from turning into you.
Don't cross your ankles. Keep at least one arm in an underhook. Don't let him roll to the side. Keep his hips on yours. 

Don’t cross your ankles. Keep at least one arm in an underhook. Don’t let him roll to the side. Keep his hips on yours.

Upper body posture.

  • A harness is a strong grip here. It locks his shoulders in and helps to keep him from spinning around in place.
  • If he falls to your left the have the left arm around the neck with a collar grip. That way he’ll choke himself if he turns into you. If he falls to the right then switch your grips quickly so that your right hand has an over the shoulder collar grip.


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