Class 04/04/2011- Back Attacks

This week was back attack week at the gym. I like to divide the position into zones. It’s a nice way to break it up and work the different postures and pressures inherent in each position. I wanted to work with the hooks already established.

Sorry about the sound quality on these. I was experimenting with a tripod and had it too far away from the action. Hopefully you can still get some of what’s going on….

With that in mind the 3 zones or positions I worked were the following:

  • Hooks in, bottom guy on all fours facing the mat.
  • Hooks in, both guys seated.
  • Hooks in, facing the ceiling.

Each of these positions has slightly different postures, pressures and objectives. We’ll start with the first posture and break it down a bit.

Hooks in Facing the Mat

Introduction Video

When the bottom guy is on all fours facing the mat and you have your hooks in you are on your way towards the most dominant position in BJJ. What I see happen often is that guys start this posture and don’t finish. Instead they rush to submission or transition out before attempting to take the posture to it’s logical end. To me you should make finishing the posture your main goal and submission secondary. Here are some posture tips:

  • Keep your weight back. If you move your weight forward before establishing your grips and breaking down the bottom guy you will get rolled off.
  • Don’t get double overbooks and start attacking the neck or arms until you have their posture broken down. You will fall off if you do this.
  • Double underhooks will give you the best grips initially and make it easier to keep your weight back.
  • Engage your hips by thrusting them forward to break his posture.
    • Double Unders- Best position for holding the guy fast. Not great for applying subs.
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  • Video of Posture- Hooks in Facing Mat

    Hooks in Facing the Ceiling

    This is a trouble posture for a lot of BJJ guys. I think many guys can hold the posture here effectively but they don’t quite know what to do with it. If I find myself with the back and hooks in with the other guy on top facing the ceiling I find that subs are tough. It’s easy to keep my training partner from escaping from here. He needs to go to one side or another in order to do that.

    What I find the posture is all about for me is getting my grips and THEN going to one side or another. Of course the side I go to is the one that’s most advantageous for me.

    Initial Posture Video, Keeping the Top Guy Centered

    Posture Video, Centering Back Up When Top Guy Gets Over to One Side

    Here’s one way to handle it if the guy falls all the way over to one side before you get grips.

    Drill Time

    Possibilities From the Posture

    Now that we are comfortable with the posture and how to hold it we can start working on getting our grips and applying submission. We’ll work from the harness grip and go to the bow and arrow choke. I show this one particularly because it’s one of the most common gi attacks I see from this particular position. It’s a dominating choke that is applied with the hips. This makes it a great equalizer in that a small person can apply it easily against a large person.

    Video of Grips and Bow and Arrow Choke

    Hooks In, Both Guys Seated

    This is a very common position in BJJ. In this position the bottom guy can use both his legs to move his body and hips. Because of this it’s very important that you keep tension in your hips and feet. This is what keeps him attached. From this position there are three main hand grip categories. They are:

  • Double Overs- Great for subs. Not great for holding the guy tight.
  • Harness (One over and one under)- Nice compromise. Fairly good at holding and providing sub opportunities.
  • Double Unders- Great for holding but not great for subs.

John Shows an Armbar from This Position


Some revisions of the technique and arm positions while seated. Also show a how to on the rear naked choke for beginners.

How to get the grips for rear naked choke using the wedge technique.