The basic wrestling sit out escape from turtle is one of the most important wrestling techniques, especially – as fighters like Minotauro Nogueira have shown us – for those planning to branch out into MMA. Mastering the wrestling sit out enables a wrestler to shoot for a takedown without worrying about being stuck under their opponent’s sprawl. It may be among the first wrestling techniques you learn, but the sit out escape is still effective in submission grappling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and MMA at even the highest level of competition.
One of the most iconic displays of the sit out escape in MMA occurred during PRIDE Shockwave when the terrifyingly huge Bob Sapp fought BJJ phenom Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. Minotauro weathered close to 15 minutes of punishment before winning via submission and one of the key tricks in his arsenal was the basic wrestling sit out escape from turtle.
Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira vs. Bob Sapp
All the elements of a legendary bout were in play at PRIDE Shockwave on August 28, 2002 in Tokyo, Japan when Nogueira and Sapp squared off:
- Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Nogueira was fighting with a weight disadvantage of close to 150 pounds in one of those “David vs. Goliath” matchups that were so popular in MMA’s early days (think Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn, Jerry Bohlander vs. Scott Ferozzo, Keith Hackney vs. Emmanuel Yarborough, etc.)
- Minotauro Nogueira was a feared BJJ submission expert with an MMA record of 16-1-1 (11 subs), including victories over fighters like Valentjin Overeem, Mark Coleman, Heath Herring, and Enson Inoue.
- Sitting somewhere around 340 pounds, Bob Sapp was predominantly a striker and an absolute hulking monster of a man. Largely untested with his MMA record of 2-0, but a frightening specimen to behold nonetheless.
- PRIDE Shockwave’s estimated attendance figure of 91,107 spectators makes it the most highly attended mixed martial arts event in history.
Minotauro Uses the Sit Out Escape to Side Control
Minotauro pulled his first sit out escape shortly after being on the receiving end of a pro wrestling-style piledriver that would have disabled or killed most people. At about 3:30 of the first round (the 4:40 mark of the Bob Sapp vs. Minotauro Noguera video below), Nogueira shot for a double leg takedown, ended up under Bob Sapp’s sprawl, and used a perfect sit out escape to reverse position and get to side control.
Sit Out Escape to Submission
Nogueira spent most of the fight on the bottom, absorbing punishment and looking for submissions. Then at about 3:20 into round two (7:20 of the Minotauro Noguera vs Bob Sapp part two video below), just after getting stacked and forced into turtle after attempting a triangle choke, Minotauro nailed another slick sit out escape, got to side control, and used his superior position to set up the fight-winning armbar.
Nogueira vs. Sapp – Commentary by Joe Rogan and Eddie Bravo
On the November 24, 2011 episode of his podcast, comedian / UFC colour commentator / BJJ brown belt Joe Rogan sat down with 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu mastermind Eddie Bravo to watch the Minotauro vs. Sapp fight and give some commentary.
Watch Bob Sapp vs. Minotauro Nogueira with commentary by Joe Rogan & Eddie Bravo (fight starts at 1h09).
Learn How to do the Wrestling Sit Out Escape
Now that you’ve seen how useful the sit out escape is, you’ll want to learn it for yourself to help you out of one of those tight spots that you invariably end up in during grappling, BJJ, wrestling or MMA matches. Check out this instructional video:
Key points for the sit out escape from turtle:
- Really throw your hips into the move. The sit out escape doesn’t work if you go into it half-assed. You have to fully commit to the move and blast your hips out.
- Arch your back and control their arm! After the initial sit out motion, be sure to arch your back, face the ceiling, and maintain control over their arm. This keeps the pressure on them and stops you from just flopping to your back and ending up underneath your opponent in side control.
- DO NOT try to sit out with your head in the middle of your opponent’s body. You’ll crank your own neck. Before throwing your hips, set it up right and make sure that your head is in position to slip out into their armpit.
As we’ve seen time and time again in the combat sports, a solid understanding of basic techniques is what helps you win fights. The jab and cross in boxing, ippon seoinage or osoto-gari in judo, cross-collar choke and armbar in BJJ, or wrestling’s double-leg takedown to sit out escape from turtle… learn the basics, drill the basics, master the basics.