The Ankle Pick To Take The Back Against The Turtle Position

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Introduction: Using The Ankle Pick To Take The Back From Top Turtle Position

In this post, we are going to learn a simple way to open up the turtle position.

For those of you who do not know what the turtle position is, your partner is basically on his knees and elbows, he has his head tucked down, and his elbows are super close to his knees. When your partner is in the turtle, you don’t have a lot of options. You can’t get a choke hold or any other submission until you open the turtle, and from that, you get more options to attack. For this reason, knowing how to effectively attack the turtle is an important skill for the back attack specialist.

The method we are going to use here to accomplish this is the ankle pick.

The ankle pick itself is basically an old-school wrestling move that has been adapted to fit the purposes of jiu jitsu.

We’re going to learn a way to open the turtle called the ankle pick.

Step 1: Sprawl and shuffle to the side

Start from a basic sprawl position. This is always a good place to start because it is a common way of having your opponent end up in a turtle position.

Keep your legs back and your hips down to keep him from getting a grip on your legs.

Next, shuffle to one side, put your bottom knee under his belly and reach over his near shoulder – which is the one that is closest to you. If your partner is wearing a gi, you can get a hold of that or you can just keep your hand on whatever piece of clothing you get ahold of in a street situation. Make sure you have a firm grip here, and that you are heavy on your opponent’s back to keep him from getting up and away.

Step 2: Pick the ankle, switch the legs, and pull the opponent up on one side.

From here, reach over and grab your partner’s far ankle. Get a good strong grip on his ankle, then switch your feet. By this, I mean cross your legs over, and your feet should be pointing in the same direction your opponent’s feet are pointing in.
Now, use your partner’s ankle as a handle and your grip on his collar, pull him onto his side. This opens his turtle position up and makes him vulnerable.

Step 3: Get the seatbelt and hooks to complete the back mount

There are two schools of thought here. Some teach to insert the hooks right away. To do so simply hook your foot over the arm that is grabbing his ankle. The point is to not let go of the opponent’s ankle until the hook is inserted. Once the hook is in, you can complete the back mount.

The other school of thought is my preference. It’s based on an important back attack principle that upper body control is more important than lower body control. You can keep a back mount with just a seatbelt control and no hooks, but you cannot keep that same position with hooks alone.

Hence, once the opponent is on their side, immediately shoot for the seatbelt first. Once you have the seatbelt, then you can set your hooks.

Then you can finish the fight with your favorite choke.

Summary of taking the back with an ankle pick from the turtle position:

So, the first thing to do when you are doing the ankle pick is shuffle to one side. Next, stick your hand over the near shoulder and get a grip somewhere on his clothes or his gi.

Now, you can use your bottom hand to reach down and grab his ankle and pick it up off the ground. From here you need to switch your feet and pull.

The turtle is now opened and you can get a seatbelt grip and hooks and then finish the fight with any one of the chokes you can use from the back mount.

Related Article: Jiu Jitsu Houston: The Ultimate Guide To Getting Started

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Father of eight, Dr. Scott Sullivan is the chief instructor at Bam Bam Martial Arts in Houston, TX. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas and is a seasoned martial arts instructor with over 30 years of experience. A firm believer that martial arts really does help people become more fit, safe, and happy, he remains vigilant about helping people improve their lives through martial arts.