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Modern Farang Mu Sul® - Combative Grappling

Escaping the Full Mount Position

By Grand Master Michael De Alba

To say that Grappling has changed the way the martial arts are viewed and practiced today would be an enormous understatement. Not only has grappling forced "non-grapplers" to re-evaluate their martial art systems and general strategy for fighting, but the term "cross training" is becoming more and more common.

It seems that, nowadays everyone is grappling. More importantly, the concept of a comprehensive fighting system is quite accepted. Martial artist that didn't necessarily kick before, are now adding this skill to their repertoire. Fighting elements such as trapping, joint locking, pressure points are finding their way into the vocabulary of more and more martial artists. Fighting strategies are now being defined as "stand up fighting" and "ground fighting" .

With the widespread exposure of "No Holds Barred" and "Reality" type of competitions such as the UFC, Pride, Vale Tudo, etc, ground fighters have made their statement:

You NEED to know how to deal with fighting once a clinch and the quite possible ensuing ground fight begins.

If not, then be prepared for a wake up call. The once sacred and "dangerously effective" stand up fighting techniques of many systems have been dismantled by these seasoned ground fighters.

How, you ask? They have spent countless hours on this one mission:

Finding and testing new methods of training and applying the tools of their trade. Which in this case is ground fighting.

They have understood the concept of developing certain strengths, AND equally as important is that of taking away their opponents ability to apply their own strength - Stand Up Combat. Safely closing the gap and smothering the opponent, acquiring a clinch and forcing a fight situation into their given strength - Ground Combat.

So, what is the answer? Well, this is a complex question that does not have an easy answer, but here is a beginning:

In order to defeat a ground fighter, you must understand ground fighting and for what ever time needed, you must to a certain degree, essentially become one yourself. Otherwise, your strategies and techniques will be based solely only theory.

Once this method of combat is assimilated into one's repertoire, then, and only then, can you turn the tables and follow that same philosophy that they have previously used so successfully in accomplishing their mission. In other words, "take the opponent out of their game". The difference is that you now have the best of both worlds, stand up and grappling skills.

That is to understand the concept of developing certain strengths, AND taking away their opponents ability to apply their own - in this case, Ground Combat. Thus forcing a fight situation into your given strength - Stand Up Combat. Eventually you will see that you yourself will begin to understand this current wave in martial arts, which is to become a well rounded fighter. One who is comfortable with virtually any mode of combat.

Actually, the more enlightened fighter would develop both these aspects of fighting (stand-up and grappling), as well as any and all other modes of combat. This would include factors such as the use of weapons and multiple opponents.

Why, you might ask? The reason is blatantly obvious and painfully simple. It is because "one just never knows".

One cannot predict what our opponents' true skills or ultimate intentions will be. We cannot truly say precisely what will happen in a spontaneous, uncooperative situation. Remember, if you start thinking that you've got enough skills, and can't be surprised, well, that's when you will most likely "get surprised". Combat is too dynamic and unpredictable. Don't forget about Murphy's Law.

Murphy's Law: That which can go wrong, WILL go wrong

Therefore, it pays to be prepared. An open mind, hard training, and a true heart are the keys.

With grappling, there is a saying:" Position before submission". Once you've secured a superior position, you will conserve energy and open up many opportunities to finish your opponent with devastating strikes, chokes or joint locks. All the while he is expending lots of energy trying to defend himself and get out of the inferior position. Without a doubt, when it comes to ground fighting, one of the most difficult and feared grappling positions to have to contend with is the infamous "Mount Position". The mount position is when you have ended up on the ground, with your back to the floor, and your opponent is sitting on top of you in a straddled fashion (as in riding a horse). He has a very strong base and balance due to the fact that he is sitting on your center mass and can use both hands and feet on the floor as "outriggers" to keep his balance and stay on top of you.

This is a dangerous place to be in simply because the options that you have in comparison to that of your opponent are definitely inferior. You are at quite a disadvantage. It is not as easy to escape as you might think and your opponent has better reach to strike and to control you, as well as set you up for some terrible submission or finishing moves, i.e. : chokes or joint locks.

Your opponent has the full reach, mobility, weight and leverage of his upper body. Whereas, you on the other hand, are being pinned from above at the waist. Your movements are much more restricted, easily telegraphed and easier to be countered as well. Your opponent can literally rain down devastating punches and elbow strikes that can put an end to your ability to defend yourself. Not to be forgotten or overlooked are the weapons and multiple opponents factor.

So, is this the end? Of course not, hence this article. Now, we must remember Murphy's Law. In this case, it refers to the fact that just as anything can go wrong, well this is a two way street. The application here is that "every technique has a counter, and every counter has a counter", and so on. This philosophy is a cornerstone to the martial art of De Alba System - Modern Farang Mu Sul®. Grappling positions are techniques, and they can be countered as well.

In the De Alba System, options, effectiveness and comprehensiveness are integral components of the way the art is taught and practiced. Areas covered include, Boxing/ Kickboxing, Trapping, Joint Locks, Pressure Points, Grappling, Weapons and Healing Arts as well. An integral part of this extensive art is that of learning the technique counters, and the counters to the counters, and the counters to those counters, etc.

Obviously this requires serious training, but it is not this "overbearing load of information". Actually, it is rather simple. The "secret" is in the understanding of the underlying concepts of the various techniques and their counters. All movements regardless of their martial art of origin, must conform to certain universal principles.

Joints only move certain ways, there are only so many ways that one can strike, and we all have the same basic body structure, pressure points etc. There are only certain ranges of fighting that will dictate the techniques that are realistically available. The key is to gain a thorough command of the given tools from any distance (range) and finding exactly where they overlap naturally. Discover where their strengths and weakness are. Where does one area of tactic flow into another. More importantly is to control the "ebb and flow" of the tools. This flow is essential to the fluid, power driven grappling scenario.
Once these concepts are understood, the ability to "flow" through techniques is now possible. One must be able to remove the thought process, and the "techniques" now become natural, conditioned reflexes.

This "flow" and natural integration of the tools from all 5 ranges is an essential skill to have in order to have consistent success in avoiding, dealing with and if needed, escaping the mount position.

If you find that you were not able to avoid or derail being mounted, here are some key tips to negate and escape the mounted position.

*** First is to not let your opponent sit straight up on you. This is a sub-position called the high ride position. From here he can control you and apply more damaging techniques. Start by keeping your head an elusive target. Make maximum use of your hands for deflecting any incoming blows and try to restrict his hands as much as possible. It is better to force him down, where his body is close to your chest and his hands are down on the floor (not punching your lights out). This sub-position is called the low ride position. To this end you must avoid the high riding opponent from climbing up on your torso (stomach or ribs). You want to keep him down by your hips by sliding your body up and pushing his thighs down. From here use your hips to buck him down. You can also use your hands to simultaneously pull him down by his chest clothes or belt as you buck him.

*** By the same token, since he is in a superior position, you want to de-escalate the violence of the fight. Don't aggravate him by trying to punch or gouge him. You just might give him some bad ideas. Also, he may have a weapon or friends to assist him. Definitely not good for you. Keep a cool head, conserve your strength, and go with the flow. As soon as you see a window of opportunity, you must capitalize on it with efficient, effective tactics.

*** Try to tie up his arms and feet. Using your hands and feet, look to time the tying up of both a hand and foot on the same side of his body at the same time, i.e.: both his right hand and foot. They must be trapped simultaneously or he will free up any one that may be caught separately. Now once you've isolated one whole side of his body, and by trapping this side completely, you've left him vulnerable for a counter move. From here you can quickly use the buck and roll method to that trapped side to reverse out. He will not have the ability to prevent one side of his body from loosing balance, and will end up on HIS back.

*** Other options are to apply joint locks or throat and neck cranks, right there as he is on top of you to "persuade" him off of you. Techniques such as arm bars, arm levers, wrist locks, finger cranks, hair pulls w/ jaw cranks, and other neck cranking techniques, etc. These moves are normally seen in stand up self defense, but translate very well in a combative ground fighting scenario.

*** If, this is not happening, never forget, if the situation warrants it, and you have a weapon or even better, friends to assist….USE THEM. Why waste energy and fight on his terms and try to match size and strength? Remember that in combative grappling, anything goes. This is not about scoring, or winning a prize. This is about surviving. And if you are mounted, you'd better be thinking about survival fighting, NOT sport fighting.

*** Resist the impulse to roll onto your stomach. Here you will be in a back mount position. He is basically in the same superior position and will have the same options as before. You on the other hand have minimized your options even further. You can't really see him, what he's planning and will not be able to use your own hands and feet effectively. You are now not only in a very good position to receive numerous blows, but are now extremely vulnerable to a rear choke. Although, it should be noted that there are several very good techniques to escape the back mount position, but that will be another article.

*** At the very least, keep him down in the low ride position and work your legs free to place them around his waist. This is called the guard position. You are much better off here. You are in less danger, and have more options. If you find that can not get both legs around his waist, getting one leg out and tying up one of his legs is the next option. This is called the half guard position. Here you will have much more safety and options.

Here we provide a few possible examples on how to escape this dreaded position. It is imperative to stay calm, don't give up, and look for options.

So, once again remember, that as a well rounded martial artist, it pays to be prepared, stay in top shape and stay hungry. Maintaining an open mind, hard training, and a true heart are the keys.

The 5 ranges of combat in Modern Farang Mu Sul®
(and the tactics involved)

The 5th range - Is the furthest range. This is where you are so far apart from your opponent that if you used your longest natural weapon, i.e. your rear leg, you still can not touch him without giving him notice of your attack. At this distance, safe monitoring of the opponent as well as explosive, long range, charging, do-or-die type of attacks are your main option.

In the 4th range, you are now within reach of the legs. The hands are generally not real effective. This is not to say that they can't be used, but they are not the main tactic.

Taking one step forward we have the 3rd range. This is generally considered a hand striking range, but short kicks are definitely viable tools.

As for the 2nd range, the distance between you and your opponent can be measured by the reach of an elbow strike. The main tools here are what are called "trapping", joint locks, throws as well as powerful short hand strikes, elbow, knee shots and head butts.

The last range- the 1st range is what is called body contact range. This generally refers to being in some sort of a tie up/clinch. It can be from a standing position, but most likely will lead to a ground fighting situation. (Grappling). The tools are many such as: hand strikes, elbow, knees shots, joint locks, pressure point attacks, head butts, gouging, flesh tearing and more.
* Weapons can be employed in all of these ranges

Technique Series A
Technique Series B
Technique Series C

* Grand Master Michael De Alba is the founder of the De Alba System of Modern Farang Mu Sul®. He has been studying martial arts for over 40years and holds numerous black belts. He currently has a series of videos dealing with various aspects of De Alba System of Modern Farang Mu Sul® (including Grappling Finishing Moves, Escapes, Weapons, Trapping, Joint Locking and more). He presently lives and teaches in San Francisco, CA.

For more information, he can be reached at:

Modern Farang Mu Sul® International
PO Box 21
Fulton, Ca. 95439

Phone: (415) 661-9657

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