Competitors Are Least Likely to Escape Side Control, Most Likely to Escape the Back.
You’ve passed the guard, you’re up by just one point. There’s a minute left. Your tired, your opponent is tired. You hear voices screaming from the crowd. Some say to keep going to mount, others say stabilize, others just say, “Honey, we’re so proud of you no matter what happens!”
You’re pretty sure that last one is your mother, who you’ll never invite to another match again. But the other voices, who can tell? It’s your decision now: stay where you are or advance position?
We Asked Facebook First:
Out of curiosity, we polled two Facebook groups as we were collecting the data. In fairness, we didn’t specify belt level:
Combined Facebook Polls
What We Did:
We watched two hundred situations where a competitor was trapped in side control, mount, or back mount and recorded how often they escaped.
Of the two hundred, half were white belts and half were blue belts. Half of each of those groups were gi and the other nogi. See the table below for a visual.
We defined an escape as when a competitor improves their position. So, recovering guard from side control was considered an escape. But being mounted from side control was not. This is essentially the same as IBJJF guidelines.
Why Only White and Blue?
If you’re new to the site, our goal is to help newer competitors (and coaches), so we often avoid getting data from purple, brown , and black. Higher level competitors obviously behave differently, and we want to present the best possible picture of what a typical white or blue belt competitor does
We did not record escapes from knee-on-belly or north south. We wanted to stick with the most common defensive positions for now. It’s also worth noting that there were far less instances of back takes, so the data is less robust there. Still, we feel confident in our results.
Here’s our big takeways:
Side Control Was The Only Position With a Hold Down Rate Above 50%
Only 42% of competitors escaped side mount. Of the three positions, it was the most powerful from a control standpoint. Blue belts were slightly (4%) more likely than white belts to escape from side control.
Competitors Were Most Likely to Escape the Back
A whopping 64% of competitors escaped back mount. In this position, white belts were slightly more likely to escape (5%). It should be noted here that we considered virtually anything besides a submission from the back an escape, even moving to the mount. This could be debated, we suppose. IBJJF awards points from moving from the back to the mount, although overtime formats such as EBI consider moving from the back to the mount an escape. We took into account that many common techniques taught for back escapes involve “escaping” to mount. Even if the mount isn’t much of an improvement, it’s still an improvement.
Mount is a Coin Toss
Competitors trapped in mount escaped 55% of the time, essentially making it a coin toss. Blue belts we’re very slightly (2%) more likely to escape, and gi fighters were also very slightly more likely. Speaking of which:
There’s No Correlation Between Escapes and Gi/Nogi
All of the escape percentages were within just few points of each other between gi and nogi competitors. Gi competitors were very slightly (4%) more likely to escape the side mount, but that’s completely within the margin of error for a sample size of two hundred.
Blue Belts Are No Better at Escaping Than White Belts
There was no significant differences between white and blue belt escape rates. Sorry Blue Belts.
If you’re on top and need to minimize risk, consider staying in side mount a little longer. Just don’t get called for stalling.
If you’re on the bottom and getting desperate, letting someone progress to mount or even the back is so crazy it just might work. Although be warned, all high percentage submissions also take place from the mount and back.
Thank you for reading. If you’re thirsty for some more content, we’re working hard to keep them coming. Until then, check out Louie’s interview on the BJJ Brick Podcast!