In Jiu Jitsu, there is no position more horrible to be in than knee on belly. You’ll likely never experience the kind of pain and misery that comes from being stuck there anywhere else.
Once you’ve been under a knee on belly that weighs as much as the sun itself, you’ll never want to be there again. That’s why we’re here to help!
We’ve put together some of the best ways to escape knee on belly. Detailing how to get out of the position, whether you’re training in the gi or no-gi.
Knee on belly escapes in the gi and no-gi
The type of knee on belly escape that you’ll use will depend on your Jiu Jitsu attire. In the gi, you are going to be relying more on grips to escape, which obviously won’t apply in no-gi.
Then in no-gi, you have more escapes that can serve as entries into leg locks. Many of the leg lock entries are illegal in gi Jiu Jitsu, outside of adult brown or black belt competitors.
Which knee on belly is worse? Gi or No-gi?
Being stuck in knee on belly in no-gi is bad, but not as horrible as when you’re in the gi.
In the gi your opponent will be able to use your own gi against you to increase the pressure. Simply pulling you up by your collars as they drive their knee into your body can be so excruciating that you’ll tap just from the heavy pressure.
1) Push-pull reverse vs knee on belly
The first knee on belly escape that we’ll detail is the push-pull reverse escape. It is so ridiculously simple that it seems like it shouldn’t work, but it does. It works both in no-gi and in the gi, although you may find more success with the added friction and grips provided by the gi.
Hand on partner’s belt
The first detail of this escape is to grab your opponent’s belt with your outside hand and do a stiff arm. This stiff arm prevents your partner from putting all of their pressure on you, while buying you time to escape.
Get your partner’s foot on the mat
Next, you’re going to force your partner’s foot to the ground using your inside hip/thigh. You do this by turning your inside knee towards their base.
When you do this, your hip and thigh go behind your partner’s heel, forcing their foot to the mat.
Bridge and grip
Once your partner’s foot goes to the mat, you’re going to quickly bridge into them. As you bridge into them, cup their heel with your inside hand.
When you finish the bridge you’re going to continue turning over into your partner, also bringing your far leg over and placing it behind your partner.
Push and pull
To finish the reversal, you push on your partner’s upper body as you pull their heel to take them down. If you think this escape sounds too easy to work, then watch BJJ legend Pedro Sauer break this technique down.
2) Knee on belly escape to deep half guard
In the gi, you can use grips to transition from knee on belly directly into deep half guard and hit a sweep. It might sounds complicated, but it’s really simple.
Close your forearm
The first step of this escape is to frame your forearm against your partner’s knee. Framing your forearm instead of pushing your partner’s knee will close space and prevent them from bringing their knee up.
Their knee should be stuck between the bottom of your stomach and your hip.
Grab partner’s ankle
As you’re framing with your forearm, your other hand is going to grab your partner’s ankle. Grab the ankle of the leg that is atop your belly.
Bridge and push
Now with your grips set, you’re going to bridge your hips into your partner. When you bridge, push your partner’s leg into half guard.
Go to deep half
Once you get into half guard, you have to immediately dive into deep half guard. Underhook your partner’s far leg and pull yourself into the position.
From deep half, you can go into any of the deep half attacks like we covered in our past article. Watch BJJ Fanatics founder and deep half expert Bernardo Faria walk you through this knee on belly escape.
3) Easy no-gi knee on belly escape
This is probably the easiest knee on belly escape that you should learn first if you’re a beginner. It works in both gi and no-gi, but better in no-gi since your partner can’t shut it down with grips.
Establish your blocks
The first step of this knee on belly escape is to establish your blocks. One hand goes on your partner’s knee and the other goes on their ankle.
Next, you’re going to use your blocks to push your partner’s leg at the same time you hip escape. These two movements together remove your partner’s knee from your belly.
Now that you’re out of knee on belly, you’re going to keep turning into your partner and grab their leg. To finish the takedown, just pull their knee into you and drive forward into a single-leg takedown.
4) Heel Hook counter against Knee on belly
A favorite counter to knee on belly for many leg lock experts is this slick entry into a heel hook.
Before you can go into this heel hook entry, you have to set up your frames against your partner’s leg. These frames keep your partner in place and stops them from moving up.
Next, bump your partner by pushing your knee into their butt. This movement forces them forward and opens up space for your leg lock entry.
Once you’ve made the space, you can go into your leg weave. Your inside leg comes through between your partner’s legs and you triangle your legs above their knee.
Inside heel hook
Once you’ve established control over your opponent’s foot, hips, and knee, you can then lock up your inside heel hook.
BJJ Instructionals for knee on belly escapes?
If you’re looking for an instructional that goes more in depth on knee on belly escapes our partners at BJJ Fanatics have you covered!
BJJ Fanatic instructor Ante Dzolic created one of the most detailed instructional videos on knee on belly escapes.
Escaping From Side Control and Knee On Belly By Ante Dzolic.
In this instructional, Dzolic goes over the best ways to get out of some of the worst positions in BJJ. If you want to tighten up your side-control and knee on belly defense, then you should check out this instructional.
Fear knee on belly no more!
Learning effective knee on belly escapes like the four listed above will help you never get stuck there again. Never again will you be crushed under the pressure of a vicious knee on belly again!
Also, be sure to check out Ante Dzolic’s instructional if you want to go explore knee on belly escapes in more depth.
Now that you’re confident that you won’t get stuck in knee on belly, it is probably a good idea to learn how to use the position to torture your former friends! Check out our article on knee on belly attacks.