5 Dirty Ways To Escape and Recover From Bad Positions at Open Mat

There are times during open mat where we all get caught in a compromising position with little hope of escaping. Ideally, it would be in our best interests to simply tap and live to fight another round. After all, it is just practice and there is no losing in BJJ; just winning and learning. However, what if you are a purple belt who has diligently trained for seven years and are caught defending a well-timed submission attempt by a strapping young white belt with a six-pack and biceps that should require a permit. The first reaction will be denial, since BJJ has proven a smaller and weaker opponent can overcome a stronger, younger, and inexperienced opponent with technique. You initial try to defend, but this athletic and well-defined white belt is out for blood and you wonder for a brief second if he is the next BJ Penn or Garry Tonon. With the choke close to being cinched or your arm almost fully extended, you can choose to tap or let your ego take over and escape without tapping. Here are 5 dirty ways to escape a compromising position during open mat.

1.Roll into the wall or other people rolling: You should always be conscious of the people rolling around you during open mat. Give the upper belts their space and know when you are close to the edges of the mat or walls. If you are stuck in a compromising position and don’t want to concede you have lost, look around and see if you can bridge or roll off the mats, into the wall, or another pair rolling on the mats. This is the same as grabbing the bottom ropes when you are stuck in a figure-four leglock in professional wrestling with both moves resulting in a break in the hold. On the reset, try to get away with restarting from a neutral position or if you start in the same compromising position such as bottom spider-web, place your free hand in position to quickly defend when you restart.

2.Call time out to fix your contact lenses: A poke in the eye in MMA is cause for a timeout to recover. In a contact sport like BJJ, it is common for a gi sleeve or limb to rub against your face especially when your back is taken and your opponent is going for a rear naked choke. If you are sensing the end is near and the choke is near, call a timeout and claim your contact lenses have fallen out. Your training partner will likely be apologetic and check up on you to see if you are alright, which you are. Again, try to see if you can restart in a neutral position or get your hands ready to defend the choke.

3.Call an imaginary foul: In this timeout situation, you are caught in a foot lock or another dominant position with little room to breathe or escape. Simply call a foul like “You can’t reap me bro!” Then sell the foul by clutching your ankle and give the lower belt a stern lecture on the dangers of reaping. Shake your leg out like a tough guy and resume the roll from a neutral position. The lower belt will likely be startled by the foul and will play tight and tentative for the remainder of the round. This is your best chance to aggressive attack.

4.Cramp!: You wouldn’t have finished me and I am not winded. I just simply cramped up. Hot training room, few water breaks, and rolling round after round can result in cramps. So milk this one if you can. You are getting crush from top side control and your opponent is setting up a kimura, but it’s your calf cramping up. Again, clutch your leg and get some sympathy from your training partner, who will likely apologize for causing you to cramp. With a cramp, you can take up to three minutes to recover so you can easily ride out the round resting on the sidelines without losing face and getting your butt handed to you.

5.Ask if the round ended: You and your training partner are both tensed up as your training partner is grinding down on your jaw from the top half-guard position. You are fighting hard and creating tension, then all of a sudden you go limp, which confuses your training partner who then lets up as well. When your training partner asks if you are alright you can simply say “oh, I thought the round ended.” This quick time out will give you a chance to breathe and help you get your hands and hips in position to defend and recover your full guard.


  1. 6. Thumb deep into the eye socket.
    7. Stomp the Groin. (Ameri-Do-Te, I know, but still VERY effective.
    8. Spit out Mouthpiece, bite an ear off.
    9. Grab the hair and repeatedly head-but to the face and temporal area.
    10. Re-Stomp the Groin.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here