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How to Escape Knee-on-Stomach Position in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

Knowing how to escape this position is vital.

Knowing how to escape this position is vital.

Knee on Belly Escape

Knee-on-stomach is a position unique to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and one that immediately conjures up feelings of helplessness (if you're on the bottom). The top person has the opportunity to hit fast armlocks, methodical chokes, and to utterly dominate positionally.

Here, we'll take a look at a wide range of escapes covering several different situations that can arise from knee on belly, along with a focus on staying safe the entire time. Let's get started!

Turning In

As you might expect from various side-control escapes, the general "best practice" is to simply turn in toward your partner in order to escape. This is an excellent first choice, but you still need to be careful. As your partner establishes knee on stomach, start with great posture, keeping your elbows touching your ribs and your hands up to protect a pending choke attack. Next, try to wedge your elbow in between you and your partner, and hip out to the side. As you do this, you're looking to create enough room for you to bring your bottom leg through (as opposed to the "buddy foot" approach later advocated). From here, turning in and fully recovering guard is a snap.

Turning Away

Turning away is a funny concept in both sport and self-defense BJJ, and it's not something you want to do as a general first option. However, when you're stuck in a position like knee on stomach, this can be a viable option. Start with great posture once again, but this time focus on having your inside elbow on the opposite side of your partner's knee.

As you start to frame on your partner's knee with the back of your elbow, use your partner's resistance to push off and turn fully away, spinning all the way through to turn and face your partner. This is similar in some respects to the flamethrower concept, but instead of recovering guard, we're just turning in and facing our partner.

Rolling Escape

If your partner has their right knee on your stomach (sternum/solar plexus area), turn to your right so that you can face them. From here, the general idea is to trap their knee where it is so that you can use this to take their base away (insert "all your base are belong to us" joke here). Using your left arm, loop your triceps over your partner's thigh, and hook behind your own left thigh (watch the video several times so you can get a general idea; it's not extremely intuitive). Finally, just scoot under your partner so that they start losing their base to your left. You can augment this escape by lifting the far leg, but it's not really the core of the escape, so don't rely on strength to lift your partner.

50/50 Escape

If you're fortunate enough to have the attribute of flexibility on your side, you can utilize the 50/50 escape from knee on belly. Start by rotating toward north/south with your partner, having already established the position with their right knee on your stomach. Rotation is easiest accomplished by pushing off of their far knee with your hand. Once there, the general idea is to weave your foot in from the back, ultimately triangling with your other leg. If this escape is extremely challenging for you, try creating better angles (this can compensate for flexibility to a large degree).

Knee On Swole?

Knee on stomach can be absolutely devastating in any arena of combat, and sport jiu-jitsu is no exception. Fortunately, there are several opportunities for escape, once you understand the position reasonably well. Remember, You can always learn how to escape a position by examining how the position itself works, and you can apply fundamental principles to most escapes that are universal, taking some of the guesswork away. Nevertheless, you absolutely must experiment and figure out your own path for escape! As always, please let me know if you've had success with any of these techniques.

© 2017 Andrew Smith


Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on September 04, 2017:

It's definitely a concern. Some folks can't do the flamethrower from there, though, so this is a viable alternative (and, of course, timing is everything, especially when you're bending the rules!).

The Bjjmeister on September 03, 2017:

Hey - so is it a concern that in the 2nd escape you'd possibly get crushed in turtle position? Wouldn't the flamethrower escape to gargoyle position then kneebar be the best option?

Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on August 12, 2017:

Hey, thanks!

Purches Power on August 12, 2017:

Great article