If you’re flat on your back in a streetfight with someone sitting on your chest – a position called the mount – then you’re in one of the very worst situations you can ever be in.
The guy on top has all the advantages – reach, gravity, targeting and mobility – and can drop devastating bombs on your face at will.
From the mount he has close to absolute dominance.
Even children without any formal training know this instinctively; how many schoolyard fights have ended with one kid sitting on the other kid’s chest, slapping and punching his helpless opponent.
Now if you get mounted in the street (where there isn’t a small army of teachers rushing in to break up the scuffle) then things are infinitely worse. It’s literally a life-threatening situation, because you don’t know if your opponent is going to stop attacking you after you go unconscious.
See a theme here? When a fight really gets serious it’s human nature to crawl on top of someone and rain punches down on their face. This is why learning how to defend and escape the mount position is so critical for self-defense. To be caught in this position and not have a way out would be your worst nightmare come true. #selfdefense #survival #martialarts #martialart #selfdefense #mount #mountescape #mountposition #bjj #bjjforthestreet #grappling #grapplingforselfdefense #selfdefensetutorials #selfdefensetraining
The good news is that things aren’t completely hopeless if your opponent gets you in mount and starts hitting you.
There are actually ways to survive, escape, and reverse the situation.
The rest of this article is about surviving this exact scenario.
First we’ll first break down exactly what makes the mount so dangerous. After all, you have to understand a danger before you can deal with it effectively.
Then we’ll move on to the best defences and escapes that’ll give you a fighting chance of surviving this terrible position. From the bottom of mount you may be down, but you’re definitely not out.
1, Why Exactly Is the Mount So Dangerous?
Let’s go over what makes the mount so incredibly dangerous in a real fight.
I answer this question in the video below from my Self Defense Tutorials Youtube channel, but I’ll also try to cover the main points in writing below…
Let’s get this straight: the guy on top in mount has all the advantages, including reach, power, gravity, mobility and choice of targets.
Most of the time, if you’re in a standing fistfight, you can run away.
But if you’re on the bottom of mount then exiting stage right isn’t an option. You’re stuck there – glued to the ground – for as long as your opponent wants, help arrives, or you escape.
Also he has both gravity and body mechanics on his side. To cave your face in he can use both shoulder/torso rotation and dropping his bodyweight to power his punches. That makes his strikes form above very powerful.
From the bottom your punches are pitifully weak (try lying on the floor under a heavy bag and punching up with both shoulders on the floor if you don’t believe me).
Furthermore he has the advantage for all the ‘dirty fighting’ options. Anything you can do from the bottom he can do much better on the top.
For example, if you try to grab his throat from the bottom all he needs to do is posture up a couple of inches and your hands will slip from their target. But now you’ve just raised the ante and escalated the severity of the fight significantly. What’s holding him back from eye gouging or throat ripping you? Nothing.
So any idea that you can reliably bite, pinch, eye gouge, hair pull, or groin strike your way out of this position is pure fantasy.
Finally, from the top of mount your opponent’s effective reach is hugely increased; even if has shorter arms he’ll be able to punch you and you won’t be able to reach him.
I filmed the “Why the Mount Is So Dangerous” video above with my friend Chad, who is one of my training partners and a former doorman.
He’s a muscular guy with relatively short arms (compared to him I’m built like an orangutan with long, lanky arms).
When I’m mounted on Chad I can punch him with impunity: my fists land on his face, and his hands don’t come anywhere near my head.
But if the situation is reversed, if he gets mounted on me, now it’s Chad who can safely land punches at will. Even though my arms are longer I can’t get anywhere near his face.
Check out how my arm length advantage is completely cancelled out by the position change in the picture below…
It’s absolutely devastating to be on the bottom of mount in a street fight. First of all the guy on top can put gravity behind the strikes, making them much more powerful. He can also rotate his body to increase the power of the strikes, which is not really an option open to the guy on the bottom. Finally, and most significantly, the guy on top has a huge reach advantage even if his arms are shorter. These reasons combine to make them out a very dominant position and emphasize the importance of having good mount escapes. Check out the most recent video on the self-defense tutorial YouTube Channel for an even more detailed breakdown of them mount position #martialarts #martialart #selfdefense #themount #mount #mountposition #bjj #jiujitsu #brazilianjiujitsu #mma #groundandpound #selfdefensetutorials
The ability to sit straight up and punch straight down is a HUGE advantage.
It nullifies strength and reach advantage for the guy on the bottom, and hugely amplifies the striking power and range for the guy on top.
So what to do?
There’s an old jiu-jitsu saying that goes, “Survive first, win later“, so the next thing we’ll talk about is the right way to cover. The idea is not get taken out by that first lethal blitz of punches the guy on top is sure to throw as soon as he gets tothe mount position in a fight…
2, How to Survive the Inevitable Punch Barrage
You see it in a million streetfight videos (and in quite a few MMA fights too). Two guys are fighting and finally one of them somehow gets to the mount. Even if he’s tired the top man instantly pops up and unleashes a wild blitz of punches and elbows.
It’s a normal human reaction; the dude on top sees the potential to end the fight which encourages him and gives him a second wind. He tries to sprint to the finish line.
Your first job is to not get taken out by that fusillade of strikes.
Now I’m not going to lie to you, if you’re trapped on the bottom of mount in a fight then you’re going to get hurt.
You’re probably going to eating at least some of those punches. No magic technique or strategy will protect you 100%. At this point a quote from BJJ black belt Kurt Osiander comes to mind, “If you end up like this then you f***ed up a long time ago.”
But if you stay calm, dig deep, realise that most punches are survivable, and actually use technique instead of flailing around instinctively then you may yet survive.
In the video below I show you my favourite way of covering up so that (most of) the inevitable punches won’t land on your most critical facial areas…
Any punch to the head hurts, but punches to some locations hurt way more than others.
It really depends on where you get hit. As I discussed in the How to Knock Someone Out article, the 3 primary targets for a KO are the chin, the temple, and the side of the neck.
When someone is sitting on your chest they’re mainly going to be punching downwards, which means that you especially need to protect targets 1 and 2 (chin and temple). And not getting your nose exploded or your eye punched through your thin orbital bones separating them from your brain would be nice too…
Unfortunately many of the instinctive and most common responses to being trapped on the bottom of mount don’t actually protect you that much.
Straight arms pushing the opponent away can be swatted to the side (or broken if the guy knows what to do). A boxing like guard can be collapsed due to the tremendous power of the downward punches. And trying to pick off the punches with your palms – like you were parrying them on your feet – is virtually impossible with the zero footwork and limited head mobility that you’re going to have on the bottom.
So you’ve got to cover up to survive.
One of the best options from the bottom of mount is to use what my friend Elliott Bayev calls ‘the helmet’.
The helmet covers most of the knockout points on the head.
We cover it in detail in the video above, but here’s the 3 step summary for putting on your helmet…
- Glue both fists on your temples
- Bring your elbows together in front of your face
- Offset one elbow a little higher than the other to close the biggest gaps.
A couple of different ways of covering your face with your fists and forearms to crash in on your opponent or survive a wild barrage of punches. More details in the “How to defend vs Strikes from Mount” video on YouTube! #clinching #closingthedistance #silat #indonesiansilat #muaythai #jkd #fma #daninosanto #selfdefense #martialart #martialarts #kravmaga #survival
The helmet isn’t perfect, but there are no perfect solutions in your predicament.
The other option to temporarily lessen impact of the punch barrage is to bearhug around your opponent’s waist or chest, pull him forward, and glue your head against his body.
This forces him to base on his hands, which reduces his power when he’s punching you.
Again, not a perfect solution, but you’re in a terrible situation so it’s a question of what you can do to limit the damage you take rather than being able to eliminate it entirely.
So both of these options are just temporary measures – you’re not going to stay here forever. No matter how good your defense is, your opponent is eventually going to land a big punch that’ll ruin your whole day…
So let’s move on to the next phase of operations. Which is to get the hell out of this terrible position.
3, How to Actually Get Out of the Mount in a Streetfight
There are many different escapes to the mount position, but they’re not all equally suitable for the street.
Some mount escapes require your hands to be low, allowing your opponent free access to your face. And other techniques require high levels of certain attributes, like flexibility, strength or explosiveness.
Just about any of these escapes is better than not having an escape (plan beats no plan every time) but what’s the best place to start?
In my experience the most useful, highest percentage mount escape is probably the fundamental ‘upa’ or ‘bridge and roll’ technique. It’s relatively simple, doesn’t require crazy athleticism, keeps you safe, and will work against a wide range of opponents.
Oh, and you see this escape in MMA all the time, so you know it’ll even work against a trained fighter.
Here’s the video explanation of how to do a street-adapted bridge and roll mount escape…
The bridge and roll is a classic BJJ technique, but to adapt it for the street you do need to tweak it a little bit…
First there’s the whole issue of covering your face like we discussed in section 2 (How to Survive the Inevitable Punch Barrage).
Then the next issue is breaking his posture forward. In a strict grappling context it’s quite likely that your opponent’s hands will already be on the ground, but in a fight your opponent might be sitting more upright.
This upright posture allows your opponent both to punch you in the face, and also to ride out your bridge.
The modification is to combine your bridge with a thigh bump to the buttocks.
You’re NOT trying to do a knee strike to the kidney, or break his pelvis, or snap his spine with your knee or anything crazy like that.
The only goal of doing a one-legged bridge and thigh bump is to break his posture forward so you can secure his arm and move on to the next step. That’s it – nothing more.
No, I’m not trying to knee my partner in the kidneys to escape mount; I’m using a bump with my thigh and a one-legged bridge to force him to put his hands on the ground instead of punching my teeth down my throat. Check out the video on the self-defense tutorials YouTube channel for a full exclamation #mount #mountposition #mountescape #selfdefense #groundfighting #grapplingforselfdefense #defense #defendyourself #selfdefensetutorials #selfdefensetraining
Then, once he’s planted his arms on the ground you’re going to do the following…
- Secure one of his arms to your chest using a variety of grips
- Step over his leg on the same side as his arm with one of your legs
- Bridge your hips as high as you can towards the sky
- Roll over to the side and get to the top.
Of course just practising this move a few times is a huge mistake. The key to making this technique (or any other) is progressive resistance: you have to train it against higher and higher levels of resistance from your training partner.
Which is why I’m going to urge you to read the How to Make Your Martial Art Work in the Street article on this site and/or watch the video below about the 5 levels of progressive resistance.
So drill the techniques we’ve talked about repeatedly, and then test them under pressure in sparring. Only when it’s smooth and instinctive will you be able to do it reliably in the adrenalised environment of a real fight.
It’s just yet another case of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, which sums up quite a bit of martial arts training, doesn’t it?
More Self Defense from Stephan Kesting
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