Escaping from Pins (diary entry)




This morning brought us up to the four and a half hour mark in a 10 hour basic course on submission grappling/groundwork for martial arts cross-training. Previously we looked at basic top positioning, pinning and transitioning from the top with a few submissions. Today we looked at defence from underneath. It wasn’t my intention to work much on guard-work, which comes under its own very large category, but there is some degree of overlap that flowed well.


After our warm-up we revised the transitioning pins sequence. These were then broken down into solo and partner drills. We looked at the scissor-like top position movements – side control to scarf-hold – and transitioning into knee-pins. Then I introduced a series of solo movements from off the back. We began with bridging, first as a simple glute-raise and hip thrust before performing the actual bridging defence. This is a strong foundational movement for escaping and is also a good movement pattern involved with a lot of fighting from underneath. This progressed into snaking/shrimping – both as a stationary and travelling exercise. We did forwards, backwards and “sidewinding” movements. From here we began looking at specific escape options from underneath. There are two main strategies for escaping from a pin: you either create a gap or shift your opponent’s weight over you. In both instances, bridging is a vital primary movement. We specifically defended against side control.


When you create a gap, snaking is very important and puts you in a strong defensive position. Depending on the opponent’s response to you creating a gap, the most common strategy for the defender is to try to pull guard. We looked at the half-guard option because it is often the fastest and easiest option for a defender. Half-guard has also come into its own in the world of Mixed Martial Arts when it was once frowned upon. A lot of the credit for this should be given to Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu and other no-gi submission grappling pioneers. This particular strategy involves ensnaring an opponent’s leg and swimming the arm under for an under-hook. We discussed the likelihood of the opponent trying to squash the defender at all times throughout this transition and why it was important to keep the pressure on throughout the defence. There are a number of inventive and highly effective moves that can be done from the far side of a half-guard, such as the implantation of the x-guard, but that was for more advanced training. After gaining a strong half-guard position with the under-hook the defender went for the back-mount position and the rear naked choke.


Shifting an opponent’s weight over and reversing a pin places a stronger emphasis on the bridging action. In this instance a defender can use his opponent’s momentum, especially if the pin has only just been executed and the opponent hasn’t settled into position. This defence is also good when an opponent has most of their weight shifted forward rather than back on their hips. Such a situation might occur when an opponent is trying to counter an attempt made by the defender to create a gap. This over-compensation can provide an opportunity to bridge and keep going with the movement, ensuring to preserve a strong structure that keeps the defender’s hips off the ground.


Next we moved onto defending against the adjusted scarf-hold. The same principles apply, but the application is different. We looked at scissoring the head into an arm-bar and bridging into a reversal.

Photography by Sonia Audhali Photography circ. 2010

See below two helpful videos on the topics covered.



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