Guest post by Henry Akins, the third American to receive a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt from legendary fighter Rickson Gracie. Akins trained under Rickson Gracie for 15 years. Akins became the head instructor or “Professor” at the Rickson Gracie Academy from 2005 to 2008 before resigning due to a back injury.
Akins has recently released an instructional website called Hidden Jiu-Jitsu where for the first time ever, he reveals the secret details that nobody outside of the Gracie family has been taught.
I had a few of my HJJ Mind Blown Club members send me video clips of the final match from the EBI Combat Jiu-Jitsu tournament where Vagnar Rocha tko’d 10th planet stand out Nathan Orchard with slaps from the mount position.
I’ve shared a post and video about this before but thought it would be helpful to share another video with a write up explaining why our natural reaction to dealing with strikes from the mount is one of the worst things we can do.
In fighting and MMA the mount is probably the most devastating position to strike from because the person on the bottom is not able to close distance, back away or create an angle to stay safe from strikes and the person on top can come down with the help of gravity and bodyweight with punches and elbows at countless angles to deal a massive amount of damage.
There’s a reason in all of Rickson’s fights he gets on top and mounts. With nowhere to move, many times the person on the bottom is left to try to use their arms to protect them self from the endless amount of strikes coming in, but this is a terrible defense. Time and time again we’ve seen how ineffective trying to cover up to avoid strikes from the mount is. We’ve witnessed this in countless MMA matches, professional fighters flailing about helplessly while they are getting pummeled, hoping for the clock to finish the round or the ref to step in as was the case in the final EBI match.
There is no way to close up all the holes and angles the punches are coming from and by using the arms to cover up it expose the arms for an armlock. You see this in boxing also, covering up is a terrible defense if changing distance or creating angles is not possible. It just turns the defender into a human piñata.
One option we do have from the bottom is to take away the balance of the person on top by lifting our hips making them fall forward and put their hands on the ground. Once the person on top is off balance it becomes more difficult to strike especially with both arms and the distance to be effective with strikes is different, it’s a much closer space which is not as effective for striking, one of the reasons you see boxers clinch so much when they are in trouble.
Unfortunately the natural instinct to protect the face with our arms allows the person mounted to get to a “high” mount where the 2 main escapes for the mount in Jiu-Jitsu, the bridge or “umpa” and the elbow escape are neutralized.
In order to use our hips effectively we must keep our elbows on the ground by our sides! This is super scary at first because in beginning we are going to feel like we are not protected, so it takes time to train and develop comfort with this style of defense. Just like in boxing, once boxers clinch they are no longer covering their faces because striking from that range is pretty much ineffective and because of the closeness it’s much easier to control and tie up the arms.
The only way to be able to kill this instinct which makes the mount situation so much worse is to train slowly to develop your comfort and trust in the technique.
Over time you will develop the sensitivity and timing to use small bumps with the hip to disrupt punches and learn how to trap the arms effectively to bridge or transition to another escape.
Henry Akins shows how to stay safe and escape the mount against an opponent who is throwing punches: