2 Good Reasons to Bail Out of the Mount

Head and Arm choke

What? Abandon the Mount? The position you’ve worked so hard to achieve?!?  Let me explain…

BJJ is a position-based art. The positional system of BJJ is the central organizing theme of my ‘Roadmap for BJJ’ book (click here to be emailed instructions on how to download this free book).

On page 5 of the book we talk about how the positions in BJJ definitely fall into a hierarchy.

Some positions are just better than others, mostly on the basis of how badly you could hurt your opponent from there in a real streetlight.

Here’s a quick recap

  • Rear Mounted on your opponent (BEST)
  • Mounted on your opponent
  • Knee Mounted on your opponent
  • Side Mounted on your opponent
  • Your opponent Turtled beneath you
  • In your opponent’s Guard (NEUTRAL)
  • Opponent in your Guard (NEUTRAL)
  • Turtled underneath your opponent
  • Side Mounted by your opponent
  • Knee Mounted by your opponent
  • Mounted by your opponent
  • Rear Mounted by your opponent (WORST)

As you can see, being mounted on your opponent is pretty close to the top of the list. It’s a really good place to be.

From the mount you can put a ton of pressure onto your opponent and you have lots of submission options. Plus if your opponent manages to reverse the position then the odds are pretty high that you’ll end up in your guard, which hopefully isn’t the end of the world for you by now!

Oh, and in a tournament achieving the mount gets you 4 points, which is puts you well ahead of your opponent and is difficult for him to come back from…

But one mistake people make is thinking that the mount is the be-all-and-end-all. They think the mount is sort of like Hotel California (i.e. that you can check in any time of night but you can never leave)!

And that’s simply not the case at all…

There are two primary reasons to leave the mount:


If your spider sense starts tingling that your opponent is about to roll you to the bottom, or put you back into some form of the guard, then leave the mount. Stay on top by getting out of Dodge: abandon the mount and go back to side mount or knee mount.

Yes, that’s moving down the positional hierarchy, but at least you’re staying on top.

If your opponent manages to roll you (by doing the classic arm trap and bridge escape, for example) then you’d end up on the bottom.

By staying on top in sidemount or kneemount you can continue to put pressure on your opponent, make it hard for him to breathe, and have a greater number of submission opportunities


BJJ is based on a positional hierarchy, but that’s not the ultimate goal of the art.

The goal of BJJ is to submit your opponent, not to pin him or maintain a certain position indefinitely.

When I run into really strong defense with certain opponents I often intentionally move DOWN the positional hierarchy, just to create more opportunities for submission.

For example if I’m mounted on someone with a thick neck and really strong arms I might let myself ‘accidentally’ let him escaped a little bit and put me into half guard.

Then from the half guard there are some very powerful leglocking options. I might use techniques like the forward spin or backward spin to knee bar, falling back to an ankle lock or diving for a toehold to finish the match.

A related reason to dismount is getting out of mount sometimes makes a submission more powerful…

A good example of this is the head and arm choke (aka the arm triangle, or kata gatame).

Yes, it’s perfectly possible to finish the head and arm choke from the mount. But against a strong opponent it’s usually easier to finish this particular choke by leaving the mount and going to side control. Plus from sidecontrol it’s much harder for him to bridge and roll you to the bottom once both of your hands are tied up doing this choke.

So although you might initially lock on this the head and arm choke from the mount, it’s often a good idea to then dismount and move to side control. The only caveat is to maneuver your foot carefully so that he doesn’t catch you in half guard, which would pretty much shut down your choke.

Here’s a video I put onto Youtube about the head and arm choke, starting in the mount and ending in side control. There are also some of the other details that really helped me get good at this choke.

Check it out – I’m sure you’ll like it!

To see the same video on YouTube of the Head & Arm Choke, click here!

Take care
Stephan Kesting

P.S. This video is from my ‘Grapplearts Submissions App’. For more information go either to Grapplearts Submissions for iPhone and iPad or Grapplearts Submissions for Android. A LOT of people have commented that this app is one of the best BJJ value-per-dollar deals on the internet.


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