Rolling Turtles (diary entry)






Tonight’s first lesson was the fifteenth in my client’s second ongoing extended course in Mixed Martial Arts for Martial Arts Cross Training. Tonight we mainly worked within the parameters of submission fighting, focusing on three rolling submissions and attacks to and from the turtle position.


We warmed up with rolling exercises to work on the key motion for all tonight’s submission work. I looked at developing a strong explosive motion with this technique. Then we covered the safety belt hold on the turtle position into a rolling arm triangle and using the same entry principle, worked on the rolling arm-bar.


Having attacked the turtle position, we looked at a defence from the same place. This also involved two types of rolling knee-bar, showing how effective the humble front or side shoulder roll can be in a combative situation. The lesson was finished with the standing version of the rolling knee-bar whilst defending against the rear waist-lock.


We then took this into the far less forgiving world of MMA fighting, looking at legal striking opportunities. Having worked the focus mitts off this position, we drilled taking guard as soon as the back is taken as a sensitivity exercise.


The turtle position has long been used as a negative and defensive posture. This remains the ruling the thought in Kodokan Judo and for most traditional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The MMA world doesn’t appear to look too favourably upon the position either. However, one fighter has bucked the norm for over a decade now. The 2013 world no-gi chamption, Eduardo Telles, has pioneered the “turtle guard” along with something he calls the “octopus guard”. Telles’s career has not only seen an impressive record of championship wins against formidable grapplers in gi and no-gi competition, but also wins in the world of MMA.


First image from Jeff “The Inferno” Johnson’s MMA blog.