Curriculum Planning – Fundamentals of Mount


  • Arm bar
  • Cross-collar choke
  • Americana

The arm bar is classic. It was the first mount attack I learned. They press up against you to relieve the mount pressure so you take the arm. I teach a more modern version of it where we’re getting our hand under the elbow as they pray/defend more correctly, but the basics of getting into an arm bar from mount are pretty much the same – isolate the arm, get it up to a vulnerable angle so they lack the shoulder strength or angle to pull with strong lat muscles, step/spin into a seated arm bar position, profit.

Cross-collar chokes are the one gi-specific thing I think should be taught for fundamentals. They create a unique attacking opportunity with no parallel in no gi and no amount of no gi defense lessons will prepare you for them if you don’t understand them. Stopping an Ezekiel or something else just isn’t the same. Open the collar low, slide your hand inside the jacket so it’s under their arms as it makes its way to the neck, shoot the other hand far, drag your elbow across the mat to their neck and then across the jawline to get pressure right under the jaw on the neck. It’s a version Mauricio Zingano showed me back in December 2013 and I haven’t found a better version since.

The Americana is a classic way to attack the defense to the collars and praying to keep their arms safe. Press the forearm down with bodyweight to get it locked against them, then rotate hands in so your weight is pushing from the inside of the forearm out toward their shoulder. There’s limited strength in that direction and you can use your back and legs to generate more power. Once the arm is on the ground, pull everything in tight and paint the mat to finish. Javier has a stronger version he showed at the last seminar of his I went to (right before the pandemic), but since it was right before the pandemic, I haven’t gotten to play with it enough to feel comfortable teaching it to beginners.


  • Box frame Escape
  • Umpa / Bridging Escape

Both escapes should be familiar to everyone. One is based in shrimping, the other in bridging. Two fundamental movements that give us two fundamental moves.


  • Back take

You need to know how to climb the positional ladder. This uses the same arm movements we’d use to set up an arm bar or an arm triangle, but once the head is up by the arm we use our grips and body angle to cause them to turn away from us creating back exposure. Set in the seat belt and then it’s sitting to one hip to set hooks. I actually prefer this from side control, but it’s invaluable that we tie mount to the back for the purposes of illustrating our chain to the RNC.


Warm-up – tori mounts uke and tries to maintain at least 3 points of contact between uke and the ground (two hips and one shoulder or two shoulders and one hip). Reset if uke sits up, gets to a side, or gets out. Switch roles after 60 seconds. It’s hard as heck to maintain 3 points of contact without specific skills. This is to illustrate to uke that they don’t need much to start an escape and get tori thinking about what it means to hold someone down.

Positional – start in mount. Uke wants to escape. Tori wants to take the back or submit (submissions optional). Turtle is not out, keep going from there. Reset if tori gets both hooks and a seatbelt on the back or uke gets some form of guard (half, butterfly, etc.), to side control, or stands up. When in doubt, reset.

Considered But Will Not Be Done

Back Roll to Half Crab – I love this escape. It’s meme-y as all heck, it gets folks thinking about back door escapes as options, it acts as a true reversal where you were mounted – probably dead to rights – and end up with a solid submission attempt or the ability to spin around to take their back, it only requires an understanding of how to do a back roll. It’s way more beginner friendly than it should be, and it’s something I found by messing up Andrew Smith’s Goat Hook Escape too many times.

Toe Hook / Heel Drag Escape – Wade used to show these as basic. You start out with a box frame, and as you turn to your side, rather than shrimping out, you use your top leg to pull their leg in between yours so that switching your hip establishes half guard. You can use your heel to drag their leg over your bottom leg or your toes to lift their leg so your bottom leg can punch under. They’re essentially the same thing from there. Mike also uses this to go directly into lockdown. I’m a fan, but I don’t feel these are as fundamental as the others because this is built on top of the box frame.

Arm triangle – yes, it’s fundamental, but it’s something so many people struggle with, and I in particular suck at explaining it. It’s one of those moves I can do, but can’t explain the nuances of correcting. I feel that way about most arm triangles – D’Arce, Anaconda, reverse arm triangle (RAT), even this relatively simple kata gatame – the angle and pressure require a feeling for what it should be like and explaining how to line up your shoulder and bicep with their neck is rough. Most folks end up just rushing it and doing a neck crank. It’s just not worth the time for a fundamentals class in my opinion.


There’s a lot here. Six techniques is 2-3 classes minimum. But realistically I’d favor always doing the box frame escape and then two other techniques that it would likely be 3-4 minimum to get through everything. The box frame escape is that fundamental in my opinion. That makes it hard to give a single class that’s a reasonable overview of mount for new students, but it does mean there’s substantial variety to pick from as we repeat cycles with the same students over months.

This is also section 2 of 6 that I break groundwork fundamentals into (back, mount, side, half guard, open guard, closed guard). The further we go along the line, the more options there are and the more conceptual approaches need to be. This may be a place where a conceptual approach to how to hold and how to escape may be a better foundation to lay.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s