How to Escape Any Position

When you find yourself held down with the most common and basic forms of control like side mount, you should focus on using the most common and basic forms of escape such as shrimping back to guard, or using the underhook to come up and reverse the position. As you progress in Jiu Jitsu, you will often find your opponents will use other variations of a given position that will thwart your most common forms of escape. When this happens, it is necessary to develop the ability to recognize when you must use alternative methods to escape a particular position. 

Your most valuable tool in escaping any position is your ability to recognize what is keeping you down. It is almost impossible for your opponent to control your entire body all at once. Some positions are far more difficult to escape than others, but there is always an opening for escape no matter how your opponent may be controlling you. 

The sidemount is a simple way to illustrate this. Your opponent can only control and immobilize  either your upper body or lower body at one time, but rarely both simultaneously. Similarly he can only control one side of your body at a time, but almost never both. When you want to escape, your first goal is to recognize what is holding you down and then work towards freeing that part of your body or finding the opening your opponent is giving you and exploiting his lack of control. 

In this video below, we go over some of the variations of the side mount you will encounter and how to escape each one.

The Mount Position- Defense and Escape

The first technique taught in almost all Jiu Jitsu classes is the simple Upa or bump and roll technique to escape from the bottom of the mount. There are several reasons that this is the case. Much of Jiu Jitsu can be difficult to understand for a brand new practitioner. Shrimping, guard, half guard, spider guard, sweeps, guard passes can take a while to understand for a newbie, but being caught underneath an opponent mounted on top of you, it is frighteningly easy to understand why you would need to escape as soon as possible. Your opponent has any number of ways to attack you from the mount. Punches, headbutts, elbows, chokes, smothers, and armlocks are all readily available to him while your offense is basically non existent from the bottom. It is of utmost importance that when training you develop the ability to recognize the significance of each position and what is available offensively and defensively for both yourself and your opponent.

Your only option when caught mounted by an opponent is to escape. Ideally you will be able to trap and arm and leg and bump your hips up off the ground and roll over on top of your opponent. This is the preferred method of escape in all of the grappling arts including BJJ, but BJJ also offers us the ability to escape back to guard or half guard where we can utilize our legs in order to gain control, sweep, or submit our opponent. In jiu jitsu, you will most likely find that against more highly skilled opponents, you will more often than not be getting back to guard rather than simply bumping your opponent off of you.

Escaping bad positions is good but not good enough. You will also want to develop the ability to seamlessly transition from defending and escaping to attacking and sweeping or submitting. There should be almost no space between your defensive escapes and your offensive attacks. One of the best times to launch an attack it immediately after an escape when your opponents focus is most likely centered on preventing your escape rather than defending themselves from an attack. You will often find an opponent off balance or over extended after you escape which will allow you to possibly catch a quick submission or reverse position and get on top.

In this video from the Hellfish Mixed Martial Arts YouTube channel, we cover how to escape the mount and transition immediately into a simple sweep from the half guard.

Hellfish Jiu Jitsu Team Wins Overall Adult Title at Newbreed Ultimate Challenge Philadelphia Summer Classic

The Hellfish team came up big this past weekend at the Newbreed Ultimate Challenge Philadelphia Summer Classic. Despite bringing only 6 competitors the the event, the adult team walked out with 10 medals and the overall team title and trophy. We had 2 first time competitors in Shane and Carl. Shane got silver in both gi and No-Gi, while Carl earned Gold in both Gi and No-Gi. Jason, earned a Bronze medal after some thrilling matches. Kyle earned a bronze in No-Gi and a Gold in the Gi. Big John earned a siver in No-Gi, and Steve earned gold in both Gi and No-Gi to remain unbeaten in Grappling competition. Every single one of these guys demonstrated tremendous skill, tenacity, toughness and heart in both victory and defeat and at the end of the day it all paid off!

Hellfish Mixed Martial Arts also brought a small group of kids competitors to the event, and although they did not earn the overall team title, they did earn some medals and demonstrated the kind of skill, determination, toughness and sportsmanship of the champs that they are. We took 2 first time competitors to the event. Charlie had some great matches and he made big improvements in each one and ended up earning a bronze medal. Eli had 2 great matches going 1-1 and also earned a bronze medal. Declan lost a very hard fought match in the finals and took home a silver medal and he continues to make improvements every time he steps on the mat. Finally Bennett took home a silver medal in both gi and No-Gi after some great matches in a very tough division!

Obviously the goal of any competition is to win, but often and especially with new competitors we try to take a way the pressure of focusing on simply winning and emphasize simply going out there and trying to the best of your ability that day to execute the techniques you want to execute. Winning is often an outcome that is out of your control, but trying your best and leaving no doubt in your mind that you went out there and fought to the best of your ability is the one thing that you have absolute control over on the day of competition. I am pleased to say that all the competitors did just that this past weekend and the results speak for themselves!

Hellfish Students Dominate in Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai Competitions over the weekend

Hellfish MMA Competitors

This past weekend was a busy and successful one for many of the students and coaches from Hellfish Mixed Martial Arts. Saturday afternoon was The Goodfight Submission only pan ams that featured 3 Hellfish students competing and Saturday night was a USKA Muay Thai event that featured 2 Hellfish students making their Muay Thai debuts.

At the Goodfight tournament, 2 of the kids from our kids program showed up and fought their butts off bringing home 2 silver medals and 1 bronze. Mackenzie took home a bronze medal in the gi division and a silver medal in nogi

King of Prussia BJJ for Kids - Hellfish MMA

while Bennett took home a silver medal in his Gi divison.

This was the Goodfights annual pan am tournament which features a higher level of competition than you will find at a normal tournament. Kyle Murphy who won double gold in gi and nogi divisions in his first competition a few months ago decided that 2 golds was not enough and ended up taking home 4 gold medals in gi and nogi weight class and absolute divisions in his 2nd ever bjj competition.

BJJ King of Prussiacompetitors - Hellfish MMA

Saturday night was USKA’s knockout cancer event. We had 2 of our Muay Thai students make their debuts and both came away victorious. In the 2nd fight of the night, Jessica Amend fought a 3 round war and got her hand raised in victory after making excellent use of her kicks at distance and knees in the clinch.

Next up was Trey Hoffner. Trey had been training for this fight for several months and came into the fight in tremendous shape after having his opponents drop out and change several times leading up to the fight. Trey came out fast starting the fight off with a cross, hook, leg kick combo and 1 minute and 43 seconds later after knocking down his opponent twice in that time finished the fight with the same cross, hook, leg kick combo with some follow up punches that forced his opponents corner to throw in the towel.

Muay Thai Chalfont Hellfish MMA

We are all proud of the students whenever they go out and test their skills in competition whether they win or lose, but it is important to know that competition is not the goal of a martial artist, but rather a powerful tool used to test the skills they have developed in class. While I do recommend that anyone who has the desire to test themselves in competition should definitely go for it, most of the students do not compete or fight and can build and test their skills everyday on the mats of Hellfish Mixed Martial Arts. Martial arts is a lifestyle and not about competing but more so a lifelong pursuit of constant self improvement through training.

The Power of Private Lessons

One of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal for improving your jiu jitsu is the private lesson. Whether you are black belt competitor or you are trying Jiu Jitsu for the first time, the private lesson is an invaluable tool for learning and improvement.

The regular day to day classes, are designed for everyone to work on basically the same set of techniques. One week we will work on passing the guard and submitting, the following week we may work on fighting off your back and sweeping, and the next week could be takedowns. These classes are focused on core techniques and principles that everyone should know and have a solid understanding of how to use them.

The private lesson is designed around your and only your particular needs. It is a perfect time to ask specific questions about anything you may want to improve. Maybe you want to work more on takedowns or learn some more advanced guard techniques that we have not covered in the normal class yet. Maybe there is a technique that you always seem to get caught in and you can’t figure out why. Maybe there is that one person in class that always seems to have your number and you want that to change. The private lesson is the perfect time to fine tune your jiu jitsu.

Private lessons can also be invaluable to a newer student, or even as an introduction to the art. Often someone is very nervous or apprehensive about joining a class. They may feel like they are too green or out of shape to keep up with the pace of the class, for that reason, the private lesson can be the perfect way to get started on learning the basics and getting you up to speed so you can jump in class and keep up.

For the more experienced or advanced student, the private lesson is your chance to get a completely personalized class. The best way to use the private lesson is to schedule it at least a week ahead of time and provide your instructor with a list of things you want to learn and work on and/or questions you want answered, like how to get the jump on that pesky purple belt that always seems to be on your back or the lanky brown belt keeps catching you in a triangle.

So whether you are a raw beginner off the street looking for a low stress introduction to BJJ or an advanced black belt champion, there is always room for improvement and learning from a more personalized perspective. Give some thought to trying out, and if you are interested speak to Coach Tim in class, or

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The North South Choke

This weeks YouTube instructional covers the North South Choke. On the surface, the north south choke looks simple enough. When you first see it, you think you simply wrap your arm around the neck from the north south position and squeeze, but the choke is far more technically nuanced than that. Its true that you must both wrap your arm around the neck and squeeze, but the details about what muscles you contract and how hard you squeeze will make all the difference between a successful choke and one that fails and leave your arms too exhausted to be effective. 

With almost all submissions, chokes especially and the north south choke in particular, the focus should not be on squeezing harder. You are not necessarily making the choke any tighter by squeezing harder and often a harder squeeze is counter productive. Focus instead on using your position and bodyweight along with the larger muscle groups of the body to finish.


For the north south choke, focus on eliminating the slack around your opponents neck first, next, focus on getting yourself as low and close to the floor with your ear pressed against your opponents shoulder on the opposite than the neck as you envision pulling your opponents head away from his body.


The squeeze is the final stage of the choke after you have positioned yourself correctly. Often, you will find that your position and bodyweight are enough to make your opponent tap, but understanding the proper amount of pressure to apply is vital to your progression in Jiu Jitsu.

For the north south choke, you do not want to rely on the bicep and forearm to do the work. The bicep is relatively weak compared to the larger and stronger muscles of the shoulders, chest, lats and abdominals. Focus on sinking your shoulder into the neck while you contract the muscles of your back, abs, and chest as you press your body into the neck.

How hard should you squeeze? The answer is painfully simple. As hard as is necessary. No more. No less. If you have positioned yourself correctly, you should only have to squeeze about as hard as you would if you were carrying a small dog under your arm. Your squeeze should not be so hard that you can’t keep the pressure for less than 60 seconds. If your opponent has not tapped after applying proper position, pressure and a steady controlled squeeze, it is time to move on to another position or submission. From the north south, you will almost always have a very easy Kimura available if they have successfully defended the north south choke.

Here is some more detailed video instruction from the Hellfish Mixed Martial Arts YouTube channel with some set ups to the choke as well as transitions to other submissions. 

The Secret to Getting Really Good at Jiu Jitsu Without Training

Do you want to know the best kept secrets for getting really really good at Jiu Jitsu? Something that will help you improve even when you might be sick or injured or too busy to make it to class?

The secret is video study. Studying videos is a great way to supplement your physical training. Watching video of both technique being demonstrated and live matches and sparring footage can allow you to soak in way more Jiu Jitsu knowledge than the average hour long class.

Watching is not enough. Once you have studied a technique, take that into your next training session and consciously try to put what you have studied into practice on your training partners.

When I first started training, there was no youtube, vimeo, or membership sites available. The only options were ordering expensive VHS tapes out of the backs of martial arts magazines, waiting hours to download a 5 minute video on the computer, or lurking on bjj forums in search of someone willing to trade or sell rare and grainy footage of obscure mma and grappling events from around the world. I have done all of that and as inefficient as it was, it helped me tremendously.

Now we have an almost unlimited supply of free video content online. So instead of wasting your time on Worldstar hip hop or reddit, spend at least 30 minutes a day studying technique and competitions.

I recommend that you stick to viewing one or two videos repeatedly for 30 minutes rather than clicking around aimlessly for those 30 minutes and viewing 30 short videos.

I also recommend that you start with viewing the videos we have available on the Hellfish Mixed Martial Arts YouTube channel.

The Hellfish Mixed Martial Arts YouTube page has been updated with new technique videos as well as some black belt Bjj matches. We will be keeping the channel updated with weekly videos of techniques that we have been working in class for both Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu as well as fights and matches.

Be sure to go to the YouTube page and subscribe, like, share, and comment on the videos. Let us know what sort of videos and techniques you would like to see in the future.

End of year Hellfish BJJ Promotions

We always have a big promotion day at both Bridgeport and Chalfont locations as the year comes to an end. It is the perfect time to take stock of the progress we have made this year on the mats. It is a truly humbling experience as the head instructor and coach to see how far the Hellfish BJJ students have come in the last 365 days.

Without fail, each student that made the consistent effort of getting to class and open mats to the best of their ability made improvements equal to their commitment to training. BJJ is a very unique martial art. There are no real forms or Katas. There are rarely formal standardized tests.

Promotions are based purely on individual merit.

How do you earn a promotion in Jiu Jitsu?

Whether it is a new stripe on an old belt or a whole new belt, the answer is the same. You show up. Put forth your best effort that is possible that day in learning and implementing the techniques you are working on and repeat as often as possible.

No tricks, no favoritism, no cheating or gaming the system just good old fashioned hard work towards the goal of constant improvement at something you find valuable and rewarding. It is the key to getting better at jiu jitsu and the key towards living a more fulfilling life.

Every student comes to the gym at a different starting point. Different levels of athleticism, fitness, mentality, time availability, and different goals and reasons for training. And because of that, your promotion is based not on how many people you can tap out in training, but how far you have come from where you started and how high your ceiling is for getting better.

Everyone is different, but the way forward is always the same. Consistent effort towards improvement to the absolute best of your ability.

This years promotions were special for a couple reasons. I was honored to promote several long time Hellfish BJJ students to higher belts including Steve Wilson becoming the 2nd ever Hellfish Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, and I also got to see the next generation of students learning and growing with the help of the senior students. This process is so cool to see and I cant wait to see what the next year will bring.

Some of the big promotions this year:

Darren Cocca- Blue Belt

Paul Puskar- Blue Belt

Chase Fettes- Blue Belt

Julian Custodia- Purple Belt

Jeremy Vassar- Purple Belt

Josh Vassar- Purple Belt


David Chour- Brown Belt

Peter Ngyuen- Brown Belt

JackieMorgan- Brown Belt

Brian Palakow- Brown Belt


Steve Wilson- Black Belt

Hellfish MMA Competition Recap

As the year winds down, it is good to look back on what we have attempted and accomplished. This is especially valuable when it comes to competition. At the beginning of 2018 I set the very loose goal of competing more. I had returned to BJJ competition after a 10 year hiatus due to professional MMA fighting and some procrastination in 2017 by competing once at the US Grappling event in Richmond VA and won double gold in Gi and No Gi. In 2018 my goal was to compete in Fight 2 Win Pro and at least 1 IBJJF competition.

In the last weeks of 2018, I can look back and say that my loose goal was accomplished. I competed thrice in Fight 2 Win. I lost my first match via split decision and won my next 2 via unanimous decision and finished the year 2-1 in pro Jiu Jitsu competition. As much as I would like to be 3-0 this year, that first loss was a great motivator for the subsequent wins.

I also competed in the IBJJF Masters World Championships in 2018. This is one of the biggest and toughest competitions in Jiu Jitsu. It had been a goal of mine for the last several years to compete in this tournament. In the black belt division, there are no easy matches at this event. Many of the competitors have 20+ years of jiu jitsu training in them, so the caliber of athlete is top notch. I ended up going 1-1 at this event winning my first match via ref decision and losing the next via 2 point take down. My goal for the event was not to be the world champion. I always try my best to perform at my best when competing, but my real goal at this event was to see where I currently stack up against some of the best in the world. Now that I have gotten my competitive feet wet again, my goal next year is to make it onto the podium and come home with a medal at this same event, and the following year to bring a world championship back to the gym in 2020.

It was also very busy competitive year for some of the instructors and students. We had several of our white belt warriors compete for the first time in various local tournaments. Without exception, every one of them made the gym proud of the way they competed win or lose.


  • Hellfish Brown Belt Steve Wilson, competed in 3 Fight 2 Win Pro events finishing the year 2-1


  • Hellfish Brown Belt Will Weisser competed more times than I can count in several local events and finished out the year with a double gold medal performance at the Grappling Industries event.


  • Hellfish Purple Belt and Coach Zach Shiomos competed in several local events and won gold in almost every one of them. He has submitted and defeated several brown and black belts this year in competition including big wins at the ADCC north american trials.  He also competed twice in Fight 2 Win pro and finished out the year 1-1 in that event.


  • We also saw our Hellfish kids compete for the first time with great success at the Tap our Cancer charity BJJ tournament.


Before you set your goals for 2019, be sure to take a look back at 2018. Find out where you are in relation to where you want to be and use  that information to formulate a plan for accomplishing your new goals in the new year.

Hellfish MMA Fighter

Hellfish MMA Bridgeport Student Bexi Wrexi Wins Her 2nd Muay Thai Fight!

Hellfish MMA Bridgeport student Bexi Wrexi won her 2nd Muay Thai fight over the weekend and is now 2-0 in her first 2 fights. Under the watchful eye of Hellfish Muay Thai Queen Niki Lorinczy and cold blooded Coach Cobra,  Bexi showed vastly improved technical skills and composure in her second time in the ring against a very tough opponent from a great camp. She won her first fight in dominant fashion, but as with most first time fighters, it was not pretty. This time however her composure and comfort was evident as she was able to execute almost everything we had worked on in the gym in the months since her last fight. She spent a lot of time working one on one with Coach Zach Shiomos in between her normal Muay Thai classes in Bridgeport and all the extra work paid off.

For this fight the focus was on using a lot of leg kicks with the goal of setting up a head kick finish. We didn’t get the head kick finish, but Bexi did a great job of using her punches to set up her kicks and following up her kicks with punches. It is a simple strategy that keeps your opponent off balance and unable to figure out what will be coming at them next.

In the weeks leading up to this fight, we also introduced the spinning backfist into Bexi’s arsenal. The spinning back fist is one of the most powerful strikes in all combat sports. The power of the spinning back fist is amplified by the element of surprise because your opponent often does not recognize what is coming until it smashes into them. This weapon has been the method of many brutal knockouts in Kickboxing, Muay Thai, and MMA. Watch this quick highlight below to see some of the work Bexi put in over the last few months paying off.


Winning is far superior to losing, but a win is such a brief and fleeting moment of pleasure compared to the long lasting fulfillment that comes from dedicating and disciplining yourself to work hard on something and seeing the improvements that happen in the process. Wins and losses will come and go, but the achievements that occur during the pursuit of developing, refining, and sharpening your mind and body last forever.