Escaping the Rear Bodylock/Mat Return

The standing rear bodylock was one of the most frequently occurring and crucial positions at the last few ADCC World Championships. Many matches were decided when one competitor got behind the other and locked his hands around his opponent’s waist.

This was often achieved after a single or double leg attack. Once in a rear bodylock the two major strategies were to either bring the opponent to the mat by lifting him or to start attacking the back by throwing hooks in while the opponent is still standing.

The primary defensive strategy was to escape to turtle. This is a highly flawed approach since one should progress from the turtle to a standing position and not the other way around!

The following sequence which occured in the 2017 ADCC -77kg final is just one example of this playing out (JT won gold again two years later vs Vagner Rocha with a very similiar sequence):

This theme extends far beyond just ADCC and grappling competition. Obviously the art of escaping the mat return is one of the cornerstones of folkstyle wrestling. Even in mixed martial arts this skill is becoming more and more important. In the next clip you will see the great Khabib show a variety of mat returns of the rear bodylock:

This should give you just a small outline of some of the offensive strategies your opponent might employ but mat return strategies will be the topic of a future post. For now we want to discuss how to defend and escape the rear body lock!

Pretty much all mat returns or back attacks your opponent might come up with will require him to keep his hands locked around you waist.
This makes breaking the lock our number one priority and we should always aim to attack his hands whenever possible!

Breaking the lock

 

In the previous clip you saw Coach Jay LaValley demonstrate how to properly break the lock.

Let’s break it down into a simple step-by-step scheme.

 

First of all attack the top hand of the opponent’s lock by digging your thumbs behind the fat part of the opponents thumb.

0. Attack the top hand by digging behind their thumb.

There are two prerequisites to then successfully break the lock.

  1. Create pressure on the lock by leaning back into your opponent and stretching them out.
  2. Further increase the pressure on the lock by getting it over a single hip to “cut” it open with the “blade” of your hip bone.

After you weakened the lock in that manner, the next step is to break it.

  1. Break the lock by “popping” your hips and separating their hands with yours.

Once you separated their hands and opened the lock, alway keep control of one of their hands.

  1. Keep control of one of their hands and put it in your back pocket.

After you successfully escaped the rear bodylock is a good time to immediately reattack with your own shots!

5. Reattack!

This time you will see Coach Cliff Fretwell show how to escape the rear bodylock. He goes over on how to keep the opponent from getting an angle on you, lean back and down to create pressure on the lock, break the lock and hip heist out!

How to train it

The rear bodylock is great for positional or situational sparring. And you should start implementing it in your training right away.

Just let your partner lock their hands around your waist, try to break the lock and escape. If they return you to the mat or take your back just stand back up and go again right away. Start with low intensity and increase as you get better.

You can get in many repetitions in a short amount of time this way thus learn a lot by trial and error alone!

As always, these are not the only thing you can do to escape the rear bodylock but knowing how to properly break the lock and escape should be essential knowledge for every grappler.
Also it is obviously prefered to stop the opponent from locking his hands in the first place by correctly sealing them off and constantly attacking and controlling atleast one of their hands!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.