Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.
Taking the Back
Taking the back has long been one of the most sought-after activities in all of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After all, if your opponent can't even see you, you can attack with relative impunity, taking full advantage of all the various options at hand. Unfortunately for the would-be back taker, this is extremely well understood by advanced (and even beginner) practitioners. This means we need to be a little sneaky. Here are three such back takes from a somewhat unexpected position: top side control.
1. Early Stage Kimura to the Back
One great option is to use the Kimura grip in order to facilitate the back take. Start with side control, and wait for your partner to shoot for the underhook. Next, switch your hips and grab the Kimura. As your partner inevitably hides their arm from the impending shoulder lock, they will inadvertently create a fantastic anchor around which you can move, pull, and push. Paradoxically, this makes their escape many times more difficult.
Once you have the grip, the general concept is fairly simple: stay just ahead of them as they turn toward you, and run around behind them. Lean over the grip you have so that you can facilitate hopping around their head, and then establish your left knee up so that your partner can't turn in toward you as easily. Finally, pull your partner into your lap and execute a fairly basic back take, seeking the harness grip.
2. Late Stage Kimura (Trail Arm)
While the above option (the "early stage" Kimura back take) can be a very high percentage move, some of the time your partner is simply going to get too far ahead of you. When this happens, use the opportunity to catch the trail arm. Once there, if your partner has already made it to both knees, it's best to do a sort of miniature sumi gaeshi (Kimura throw). Once you topple your partner over, it's essentially a classic "El Gato" position. You really just need to turn your hips over (assuming you can get this done quickly enough; if not, a "lazy El Gato" is a better option). Finally, sitting back through for the back should be standard operating procedure at this point.
3. Ninja Business
Let's assume you really, really like Kimuras (I know a few folks who meet this description). As a result, your partner may opt not to give you a shot at their arm, and instead allow you to get to reverse kesa gatame with the arm under, or, more commonly, "Twister side control." From here, it's a matter of getting your partner to take that audacious step over toward you. You should be able to hook their leg with yours, but be sure to get your knee to the ground so that your angle is superior to theirs (or else watch out for the ninja roll counter!).
Next up, solidify the leg positioning with a lockdown, and then roll over your shoulder to get to the back. Be sure to walk up the body carefully, starting with the legs, working up one limb at a time. Don't stop or let go of the previous position until you're sure you have the next step in hand, and don't stop progressing until you have a full harness grip on the back.
In summary, getting to your partner's back through tried-and-true methods of attack may well work, but this approach may also be well understood by your partner, and they will therefore anticipate what you're trying to do. The solution? Sneaky stuff.
Try using the Kimura grip whenever you can to get to the back, and play around with ninja rolls, berimbolos, and reverse De La Riva guard to get to where you want to go. As always, let me know if any of these techniques are working for you!
© 2018 Andrew Smith