A legendary teacher at Gracie Barra and founder of Gracie Barra BH, Vinicius Draculino became a specialist of reaching his opponents’ backs. With over 40 years of practice in martial arts and two runner-up finishes in IBJJF World Championships, he talked to Graciemag for our June cover story, and we brought back the basic details for succeeding in that position.
To Draculino, the positions of back-take and mount are like shooting a penalty kick: Reaching such situations brings great responsibility, and missing the chance can’t be a possibility. And in the event that you do miss, refraining from breaking down mentally is also paramount.
So check out three pieces of advice by Vinicius Draculino to have more success with your back-takes.
From check to checkmate
“The comparison between BJJ and chess, in my view, is perfect. The back, just like the mount, is a position like the check on the board — there is no better place to advance from, there is no better position to achieve. Unless, of course, moving from one to the other or vice versa — that is, from the mount to the back, or the other way around. Every fighter, then, must think about sharpening four mandatory aspects to have success in finishing from the back. They are: 1) positioning; 2) control; 3) eliminating defenses; 4) submission. The fighter who has achieved mastery of all four factors will always be a killer.”
Pressure to get there
“One thing I’ve been noticing through all these years of BJJ is that taking the back happens in two basic situations. In the first one, when your positioning is so precise, and replete with so much pressure, that the person gives you their back as a pure consequence of this. The second one: When the other person makes a basic mistake that allows the back-take. When I’m training, I always seek to pressure and make my training partner completely uncomfortable, to the point where they give me their back as the only possible option, or else to mentally break my opponent to the point where they give me their back to just get out of that awful situation already.
“From the moment I achieve the takedown or the sweep, I pass right away and, from there, I use pressure to mount, get a knee on the belly or finish, and as I’m at it, the back ends up appearing for me. For example, people often hate the pressure they are subjected to under side control or the mount so much, that they do that classic back turn. That is, it’s, like I said, in the first and second case: Either they give you their back due to pressure, or they err due to desperation.”
Breaking the defenses
“There was a time when opponents started hiding the collar under their armpits to make choking with the gi harder. But with that, they started making other techniques possible, like the ezequiel from the back, the classic rear naked choke and others. In reality, the person who escapes the back-take properly is a patient fellow… They defend their neck and arm putting 75% emphasis on this, and 25% on defending against hooks and such. The anxious guy — that guy who wants to get out however he can not to allow the points from the hooks — usually taps out fast.
“Royler and Roger Gracie, each with his peculiar techniques, are the guys I’ve seen escape the back-take the best. Roger, thanks to his calm and monk-like patience; Royler, thanks to a tremendous skill of putting a person at a bad angle for finishing. The secret to having success against people who defend really well is to also have high doses of patience. Only with patience, positioning and control can the fighter eliminate the most important aspects of the defense, like the hips, the grips, the angle, etc.”