The mount is the king of positions in BJJ. It is one of the two positions that earn you the most points you can get in a competitive BJJ match (4 points). It is also one of the best positions to find yourself, regardless if you’re in a BJJ roll, a match, an MMA fight, or a self-defense scenario. Apart from great control, the mount offers numerous finishing options, perhaps even more than any other position in Jiu Jitsu. Here are 10 essential BJJ submissions from mount.
The “Holy Trinity” Mount Position
Let’s start with the essentials of controlling the mount. If you already feel you can keep people in the mount, feel free to go directly into the submissions section to improve your finishing arsenal.
I like to teach people about the mount position by presenting control points as a trinity. Hence, the “Holy” mount designation.
The mount is one of the checkpoints that I teach people to look for since they start training, and I have them keep looking for it until they decide to stop training. I believe it is one of three checkpoints, along with back control and the closed guard, that are relevant at every belt level and are the optimal spots to be in during grappling exchanges.
In terms of mount, the three control points of the “Holy Trinity” mount system are as follows:
- First, you have to get your hips off the opponent’s power line, which is represented by their hips. Simply put, sit above the opponent’s belt rather than on it, or worse, below it. This will ensure that you won’t go flying even if they buck up with all their power.
- Second, you need to make somebody weak, so you can control them more easily and set up attacks at will. The easiest way to achieve this is to get both the opponent’s elbows above to touch their ears. Even if you get this on one side, you’ll weaken them significantly, but having both arms high above their head means they can’t do anything with them.
Throw in a bend of the head in any direction, and you also achieve a very easy posture break that further weakens the person on the bottom.
- The final piece of the puzzle is weight. You need to relax completely, to be as heavy as humanly possible when on top of somebody. Think about how lifting a 150 lbs barbell feels vs. lifting a 150 lbs water balloon. Exactly. Concentrated weight is easier to lift than free-shifting weight. When you relax on top of someone, you achieve the latter.
So, the holy trinity of mount control is to get off the power line, weaken the opponent, and make yourself heavy.
Oh, and one last thing. If you are thinking, you can control and submit people from the mount while staying upright. Stay down low over the opponent, and do not try to act as if you’re riding a bull at a rodeo. That rarely goes well for the rider.
Control vs. Position vs. Submission in BJJ
One thing I must address before I go into a detailed explanation of the best BJJ submissions from mount is the conundrum of position, control, and submissions.
The mount is a position in BJJ defined by the top person being mounted over the bottom person’s torso, with either both feet or both knees touching the ground. If the top person manifesto retains this position for 3 seconds, they will get the points.
Control, however, is different. Controlling someone means preventing them from moving in a specific direction, while making sure you can force them to move in another specific direction. In terms of the mount, obtaining the “holy trinity” principles will give you all the control that you need.
So having a position does not equate to having control of that position. It is an important distinction because submissions, which come in the form of joint locks or strangles, require a modicum of specific control during the setup phases rather than a specific position.
In fact, holding on to a submission, like an armbar, is a control position in itself. If everything is set up correctly, you can prevent the other person from getting away while simultaneously ensuring that you can move the elbow enough to finish the submission. In other words, you are in control.
If you want to set up BJJ submissions from the mount that are going to work, you’ll need to understand that being in the mount is not the same as controlling the mount.
Also, remember that the moment you move away from the holy trinity control and into a configuration that leads to submission, your control points shift. That reiterates that control is a condition for your submissions, instead of the common “position before submission” dogma.
BJJ Submissions From Mount
Now that it is clear how you can control somebody from the mount and what positional and submission control are, we can talk about breaking limbs and putting people to sleep. In that regard, I will focus on high-percentage BJJ submissions from mount, covering both Gi and No-Gi options.
I like to organize submissions from the mount, in terms of control, of course, in direct, indirect, and transitional submissions. The first is submissions you get without leaving the mount or compromising the “holy trinity” control. Indirect submissions require you to change position, still remaining in the mount, but not in the position you began the attack from. Finally, transitional submissions have you completely leave the mount for another position, setting up a tight submission hold as you are doing so.
The X choke, a.k.a. Cross choke, is one of the best submission holds in BJJ. It can be done from the guard as well, but after Roger Gracie submitted all of his opponents in the 205 Worlds using nothing but the X-choke from the mount, I think we can all agree that the mount is the best spot to look for it.
The choke is pretty straightforward – you need to sneak one arm inside the opponent’s collar, four fingers on the inside. Then, you need to either sneak the other arm in the opposite side collar, also four fingers on the inside, or if you can’t grab the collar behind the opponent’s neck, with a thumb in grip.
In either case, the idea is to use the scissoring configuration of your forearms to put pressure on both carotid arteries. It will work best, though, by doing less rather than more.
What I mean by it is that once you have your grips in the position, you need to focus on removing any, and I mean any slack, from between your forearms and the neck of the opponent.
All it takes from there is either patience (they’ll tap in around 20-30 seconds if you just do nothing) or simply bending forward to touch your head to the mats above theirs. No squeeze whatsoever is required.
The Americana is one of the first BJJ submissions from the mount that people learn. Unfortunately, they learn a less-than-optimal version. Lucky for you, you read Jiu Jitsu Legacy, so you’ll know how to do the best possible Americana submission, courtesy of Braulio Estima.
When doing the Americana, most people grab the wrist of the opponent’s arm and then use their other arm to grab a figure four grip on their own wrist. Instead of having this second arm go under the opponent’s upper arm, grab your wrist, aim to put your forearm under the opponent’s shoulder instead, and look to grab your biceps (like in a Darce choke).
Raising the shoulder off the ground will put immense pressure on the joint long before you go into the breaking mechanics, which remains the same – just think of the opponent’s palm as a paintbrush and the mats as your canvas as you pull.
Setting it up from the “holy trinity” mount is as easy as getting a grip underneath one shoulder with the near side arm. Once you have that, there are myriad ways to peel the arm off, and you’ll land straight into the biceps grip Americana finish.
This choke is extremely easy to get and just as brutal. It can be a blood strangle, but it is a vicious air choke in most cases. Putting pressure on the windpipe.
If you only have one arm above the opponent’s head from the “holy trinity” mount position, it is the perfect opportunity to use an Ezekiel choke. With one arm under the opponent’s head, all you need to do is make sure you thread the forearm as far as possible, like putting on a nasty crossface.
From there, you place the palm of the arm you just put underneath the opponent’s head inside the Gi sleeve of your other arm. This will create a noose, a.k.a. A different type of control over the head and shoulder. From there, you can take your time finishing.
The finish works by threading your free palm across the opponent’s neck and using the blade of your hand to put pressure on the trachea. A slight scissoring motion of the forearms by extending the elbows accentuates this choke.
Grapefruit (Helio Gracie) Choke
This is one of the first chokes I learned, courtesy of Fernando “Nando” Araujo, head of Jungle BJJ gym in Prague, Czech Republic.
The choke is painfully simple and works in both Gi and No-Gi. All you need to do is make two fists, place them on either side of the opponent’s neck, and drive your knuckles into their carotid arteries.
If you want more details, keep the elbows open and over their shoulders, touch your forehead on the mats, and ensure that when you drive the knuckles, you slightly twist and push towards the ground, not just into the neck.
A classic grappling move and one of the highest percentage BJJ submissions from mount. If you ask me, mounted guillotine finishes are even better than bottom-position guillotines. But that’s just me.
The guillotine I’d advise you to go for is the regular one, which does not include the arm-in. It is not that the arm-in guillotine doesn’t work; it is just that if you fail at it, you don’t have immediate follow-ups.
Going for a direct guillotine means switching between high elbow, low elbow, power guillotine, ten-finger guillotine, ball-in-socket guillotine, etc., all from the same spot.
It is extremely, and I mean extremely easy, to pick up the crow of the head when you’re in control of someone from mount. Once you have it, you’re just doing a reverse position snap-down, pulling the head off the mats while placing your armpit behind the head. Inserting a chin strap grip means you have all the control you need.
For the finish, I advise going for a low elbow guillotine first. Simply thread the chin strap arm an inch further underneath the chin, and use your other arm to grab the chin strap palm.
Once you have it, scoop with both arms towards your chest, and bend to the side where you have the head of the opponent trapped.
Indirect BJJ Submissions from Mount
S Mount Armlocks
If you are thinking about finishing an armbar from the mount position, do not fool yourself that you can simply stand up and spin into one. Unless you’re ready to explore and learn the S-mount variation, you better reconsider where you’re going to set up straight armbars from
The S-mount is a high-mount variation that works when you trap both the opponent’s arms with your legs. Like the “holy trinity” mount, you want their arms to be over their head. One of your thighs goes underneath one armpit, while the calf of your other leg goes underneath the opposite side armpit.
In order to make sure you are effective with the S-mount in terms of control, remember to always position your shoulders at a 90-degree angle to the opponent’s torso.
It is easy to isolate an arm from the S-mount and finish either mounted or simply sit down to go for a regular straight armbar finish.
The mounted triangle choke is one of my personal favorites lately. It requires you to leave the “holy trinity” mount control, but it offers better control and a submission finish in return.
Usually, setting it up is easy when an opponent tries to wiggle out and gets one of their arms trapped in between their torso and your leg. From the “holy trinity” mount, you can force one of their arms in said spot, achieving the same trap.
This leaves you in a perfect position to simply slide the knee on the side of the trapped arm upwards while lifting the opponent’s head as high as you can off the ground. Lifting the head will enable you to thread the shin of the leg that directly touches the neck behind the head.
From there, you just lock on to the triangle and try to pinch your knees together.
Dismount Darce Choke
Hunting submissions when you’re on your way out of mount is not always something that is your choice. However, it is still a great way to capitalize with BJJ submissions from the mount, even if you are finishing from a position that has nothing to do with the mount.
The Darce choke is my go-to whenever people use their arms to push on my hips during mount escapes. Having their palm on my hip means I know where their elbow is, and it is easy for me to thread an arm over them as I allow the bottom person to push me off the mount.
As they turn on their side, I simply switch the hips and thread the arm deep, locking on to a Darce choke effortlessly.
The arm triangle choke can be set up from the mount, but cannot be finished there. Setting it up works great if you pair it up with the Americana setup because as people try to hide from the Americana, they’ll slide right into an arm triangle.
The moment you have an arm around their head, trapping their nearside arm in between your head and theirs, you can think about disembarking from the mount. As you do, keep moving your torso and hips away from the opponent’s body, leaving the shoulders close.
After you achieve a 45-degree angle, bend your knees, get your heels closer to your butt, and squeeze lightly.
Another one of my personal favorites. When you’re in the mount, and for one reason or another, you decide you’re going to finish with an Ashi Garami leg lock, all you need to do from mount is get your feet inside the opponent’s thighs, like in a butterfly guard. Reilly Bodycommb calls this the “vegan” mount.
From there, you just drive back with your arms sitting into the saddle, a.k.a. Honeyhole, a.k.a. Inside Senkaku, a.k.a. the 4/11 position… Or simply put, the best Ashi Grami for setting up devastating leg locks.
What is the point of being in mount if you’re not going to use such a superior position to set up a submission hold? BJJ submissions from mount are all the submissions you start setting up from mount, even if you end up shifting yourself slightly or even completely leaving the mount. With both Gi and No-Gi submissions available, you can’t have you do not have a choice when it comes to making people tap from the king of all positions in Jiu Jitsu.