Knee on belly is one of the most dreaded positions to get stuck in. Being stuck in knee on belly is not only painful, it is also difficult to escape. I find escaping knee on belly to be one of the most difficult positions to escape, especially since I am a smaller grappler. Larger, stronger grapplers have the luxury of being able to push you off, even if it’s not technical, but as a lightweight, pushing does nothing.
Pritt Mihkelson describes his training as “functionalistic minimalism” – based on fundamental postures and movements that ever grappler needs to know.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the students at the gym I train at absolutely love knee on belly. This isn’t all too bad though because it forces the smaller guys to learn how to mechanically and technically escape this frustrating position. It took me many years to start escaping knee on belly without exposing myself to threats like armbars or even just mount takes.
The biggest issue regarding escaping knee on belly, which I eluded to above is the risk of exposing oneself to other attacks. The first thing I learned that pushing the knee with the cross-side arm is not only pointless but opens me up for other attacks.
When you push the knee like this, you open up some space between your elbow and rib cage where the top player can slip their arm in. If they do this, they get a strong under hook and can use it for many attacks. I do this to a lot of newer students so they learn that pushing the knee doesn’t help even though it’s so instinctive.
In the following video, Bernardo Faria illustrates a simple but technical way for escaping knee on belly. Bernardo Faria is one of the best competitors of his time and also happens to be an extraordinary instructor that puts a lot of great content online for free. See below:
The trick to this escape is pushing the leg at the right spot with the near side arm. The closer towards their foot that you push, the more successful you will be with trapping their leg. Once you get their leg trapped, a lot of things can happen, but I recommend trying to get an under hook and get on top. If you try to just hold the position, they can transition over to a knee slice pass and just get back to the same original spot.
Bernardo Has Become World Renown For Teaching Older Guys Because His Moves Require Almost Zero Strength, Speed or Flexibility… How?