Taking the back is an obsession for me, and in past classes I’ve gone over how to take the back from an armbar attempt and how to take the back from a kimura. Rather than rehash those techniques, I wanted to challenge my students explore the concept of taking the back a bit more deeply, so we covered a technique that many jiu-jiteiros don’t learn: the switch.
The switch is a common technique in wrestling that you see more often in MMA than you do in jiu-jitsu. It’s a surprisingly versatile technique that can be used to simultaneously defeat an underhook and improve your position. Before we dove into the switch itself, we looked at an approach to taking the back from mount which is essentially a no-hand arm drag. I like to teach this technique because it starts to acclimate you to using your chest and torso to defeat your opponent’s limbs, a coordination that is useful when you start to use the switch.
From the no handed arm drag, we revisited a switch that I taught in the kimura module. This particular entry is unusual by wrestling standards, but it’s a position and a movement that tends to more comfortable for people that do jiu-jitsu but have never wrestled. From here, the switch feels very close to a super simple back take but the end-result is an arm drag-esque-ish-sort-of position.
This last application of the switch is one that I use frequently. If I am working to pass half guard and I feel an underhook start to overpower me, whether I am working to pass from a more traditional top position or after I’ve high-stepped over my opponent lay on one of his underhooks. I do not look to set it up because the cost of failing is ending up on bottom, but it has bailed me out of a few troublesome situations.
When you first start to learn this, it may feel awkward because your legs can end up trapped between theirs. If your switch arm is set properly (and remember to dig with your elbow), you are relatively safe, just keep working to get your hips free and your legs will follow.
And that wraps up our back take module. By request, we are diving into half guard for the next few classes.
Artechoke in a Can is the online version of Marshal D. Carper’s weekly no-gi class. Marshal is a purple belt under Sonny Achille at Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he is the author of The Cauliflower Chronicles and Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques.