Reader Question: That [the video below] seems very risky, like going from one bad position to a worse position. I am obviously not an expert, but I don’t think working from turtle is the best place to be.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: This is a great question. I hear this often from students who are alarmed at the idea of “giving their back” when a technique of going to the turtle position is demonstrated.
This is perfectly understandable since one of the earliest rules you learned in BJJ was “Never EVER give your back!”
But let’s understand that giving your back out of instinct in a desperate escape attempt is different than strategically going to a defensive turtle with some solid options of what to do when you are in turtle!
Being trapped under heavy side control is an inferior position compared to transitioning to a tight, defensive turtle. We see black belts in high level competition often transition preemptively to avoid giving up the guard pass.
Remember, you are not meant to go to turtle and stay there while your opponent gets their grips, settles their weight, and starts to put some hooks…you move! Here are two more solid options from turtle (and there are many more!)
Some black belts, notably Eduardo Telles and my own head instructor Josh Russell, who produced an instructional called “The Turtle Guard,” develop an offensive game from their turtle.
Don’t fear the turtle!