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Skateboard Escape From the Back to Deep Half: A BJJ Tutorial

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

Using the skateboard escape.

Using the skateboard escape.

Danger Presents an Opportunity

The most effective escapes not only get you out of danger but also turn the tables on your opponent, giving you a superior position. This escape from the back is just such an escape and presents you with a chance to either come up on top straight away or to end up in a valuable deep half guard position, where it's extremely likely that you'll sweep or submit your opponent. The "skateboard" movement is a tough and unique thing to get down, but once you have this, you may prefer this over all other back escapes (as I do).

Following Up on a Basic Movement

If you haven't already seen the "Crunch and Turn" back escape tutorial, you might want to check that out before reading this one. This builds off of the same "crunching forward" motion from that tutorial, but in this case, instead of picking a side to put your back on the mat, you're going to look to sneak down in between your partner's legs like a skateboard (hence the name). It's absolutely vital that your defensive posture is excellent right from the beginning here, because if your partner gets underneath one of your arms with their arm, you won't be able to sink downward at all.

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Sliding Downward

Once you've established the "crunching" movement from earlier, and your defensive posture is impeccable, you can start to sink downward. You've got to pick one side, though (I choose my right side in this video series). Taking your right elbow into the crook of your partner's knee and sliding downward, everything else will fall into place. Pro tip: make sure to bring their knee up to you so that you don't expose your neck by reaching downward!

Skating Away

Now it really is like a skateboard sit. I can just slide my butt forward along the ground, sliding underneath my partner. At this point, you can "mule kick" your left leg to clear the back hook (resist the temptation to reach down for it, because your neck and arms are still vulnerable here), and then circle your leg back over to where your left leg is, pinching your knees together to establish a lock on your partner's trapped left foot. From here, you will want to dive under with both arms at a minimum and may want to establish a different foot position, as shown in my deep half tutorial.

Putting It All Together

Once you get good at this escape, like most other things, it's no longer just a sequence of positions, but rather a continuum of smooth movement that leads to you getting a sweep. Once you get the static back escapes down to a reasonable level of competency, you may find that transitional escapes are much easier, like when your partner tries to take your back from De La Riva guard by pulling your belt, or really any back take that doesn't automatically involve a harness grip. Even if you get stuck with over/under grips on your back, your partner may release them to go for a choke, and this will no doubt give you the opportunity to use this skateboard escape once again. As always, let me know how this works out for you, and I'll be publishing more back escapes soon!

© 2015 Andrew Smith

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