ADCC 2019: Back Attack Study

The rear naked choke was the #1 submission at ADCC 2017, ADCC 2019 and all the trials in between. Even in MMA it is without comparison the king of submissions.

In addition back control was the #1 scoring position at ADCC 2017 & ADCC 2019 by a long shot.

This makes the back control or rear mount arguably the king of positions!

For that reason I decided to take a closer look at the back takes that occured at ADCC 2019. I acquired the data by breaking down all matches of the men’s divisions – thats a total of 95 matches. I did only count successfully executed back takes (both hooks, body triangle or finish) and not situations like a seatbelt with only a single hook or lesser positions.

Let’s take a look at the results:

Most successful back takes were launched by the top-player, accounting for roughly half of all back attacks. The neutral or standing position was the second most frequent place to see a back take from. Back takes initiated from bottom were the least likely to witness but with over 20% they are still significant!
These results seem to be fairly robust since my back take study of the trials leading up to ADCC 2019 showed very similar trends!

Let’s take a closer look at the positions or situations prior to the Back Attacks e.g. the Set Ups:

As to be expected by the previous graph most back takes where set up by passing the guard or being in mount/side mount (most of it where passes though).
More interestingly if we combine the front headlock, singles and doubles then wrestling accounts for 43% of all back takes!
Some of you may have already noticed that the previous graph stated that 7 back takes came from bottom yet we only see 4 in this one… This is because 3 of the 7 bottom back takes were set up by the guard player coming up on a single leg!

Another interesting thing to look at are the types of back takes:

As you can see the overwhelming majority of back takes where just a seatbelt/bodylock followed by a real basic hook-insertion like a chairsit or just throwing hooks in!
The other 5 Back Takes were hard to categorize – a rolling back attack here, a crab ride there or even some wrestling tilts by Gordon Ryan. 

All in all, the message is clear: The basics still work at the highest level! So it’s not about learning more and more complex back attacks but about getting great at basic skills and finding the ways and tactics to get there.


We did break down how the competitors got to the back but what did happen from there?

This graph was shocking to me… Despite the fact that the rear mount is so commonly regarded as the king of positions people did escape it pretty much just as often as they got submitted! And that’s even though Gordon Ryan did account for almost half the finishes alone (5 out of 12)!


After watching all these back takes it was obvious to me that some positions, grips or skills were just way more prevalent than others. These are the situations you should maybe be especially well versed in (offensively and defensively):

Even though I did say I did only count successful back attacks I wanted to point out that the following sequence was one of the major recurring themes of ADCC 2017 and ADCC 2019!

The single leg and double leg to the rear bodylock came up so often it was hard not to notice the importance of this sequence! Being able to capitalize on the bodylock or being able to successfully escape were deciding factors in countless matches.

With that my ADCC breakdown comes finally to an end. At least for now…

I have so many notes, gifs and clips that I will probably come back to them whenever new questions or interests arise. (If you have some suggestions just hit me up!)
If you feel like you need to improve your back attack game after seeing this study, you can check out my back attack resources!
I collected the moves I like and many of the free online instructionals on the back position which helped me personally there.

Also my next post will cover the three major resources that helped me understanding the back better (besides personal experience)… so keep an eye out for that too!

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