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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a brown belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2022 Can Sönmez

22 August 2022

22/08/2022 - Teaching | Half Guard | Bridge Sweeps

Teaching #Evening
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 22/08/2022

Short Version:
  • You've been squashed flat, they have a crossface and underhook
  • Block their non trapped knee with your arm
  • Drive off your outside leg (stepping it out from the kickstand if needed)
  • Punch up through their head with your trapped leg side arm
  • Bridge and roll to the top

Full Version: I first saw this sequence on an DVD series from a few years ago, by Vince Quitigua. In Lost Techniques of the Half Guard, he has a simple solution to when you've been put in what would generally be seen as the worst position under half guard. They have not only managed to get a solid cross face, they've also underhooked you on the other side. However, using the same principle as the trap and roll from under mount, that means there is an opportunity to block off two of their limbs on the same side.

As they have already put their arm under your head, if you can block their leg on that side and bridge, you can roll them over. Therefore all you need to do is use your arm to stop their leg from stepping out. If their leg is too far away, turn your hips towards your underhook side to bring it in, then place your arm next to it. Push off your other foot and swing your arm up around their head on the side they've underhooked. Bridge and roll them over from there.

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The major flaw with this option is that if they bring their arm out from crossfacing you, then they will be able to use that to prevent your roll. A method for preventing that defence is to use your own arm to lock their crossfacing arm by your head, like you would if they were crossfacing your from mount. As your arm is now occupied, you're going to use your same side leg to hook their leg instead, then push off with your other leg to complete the roll. Again, if their leg is too far away from your body, turn your hips to the underhook side.

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Be aware that there is a risk if you uncross your legs to generate the leverage for the push, so be careful of them freeing their leg. Also, with a savvy partner they may be able to avoid your attempt to bridge and roll by quickly adjusting their weight distribution and putting up a leg. Be ready for that opportunity to recover to full guard, as they will find it tricky to do that without leaving some kind of opening for you to bring your leg through.

Teaching Notes: I was uncrossing my kickstand in order to get the push, though if your legs are long enough, then you could still get enough leverage without doing that. By uncrossing your legs, there is a risk they will manage to pass at that point, so if it's possible to get the roll while keeping the kickstand locked, so much the better. Something to attempt before next time. Also, does it matter if you grab the trouser leg instead of simply block? Less versatile I guess as you've committed to a grip, but still works.

I also should make more of a point about the chance to recover full guard, in case they react before you're able to complete the sweep. On the second one, I find that you normally are able to step through to side control due to the position of your legs, but if you end up inside their guard instead, still better than being stuck on the bottom. But again, something to look at when preparing to teach this next time.

Turning towards your trapped leg to bring their leg closer to your body is really useful too, keep emphasising that.

17 August 2022

17/08/2022 - Teaching | Butterfly Half Guard | Basic sweep

Teaching #Evening
Artemis BJJ (7 Easton Rd), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 17/08/2022

Along with the three leg positions I cover in a my usual basic half guard maintenance lessons, there is a fourth one that is worth developing too: the half butterfly. From your kickstand or inside hook, bring your outside foot back enough that you can hook by their thigh. This is significantly easier if you either have short legs and/or you're flexible. You ideally will also have an underhook on that side, staying tight so they can't swim inside your underhook. Your inside leg maintains a firm control, as with the inside hook leg control.

For a butterfly sweep, the key part along with that hook is controlling their opposite arm so they can't post. It is equally important here, but trickier to control due to how you are positioned in half guard. If you're able to control their elbow, suck their arm in, though it is usually difficult to get a sufficiently controlling grip from standard half guard. Jason Scully suggests getting your head past their arm (something I do by using the facepalm cross-face block I learned from Braulio videos). To control the arm from there, Scully does an unusual grip of reaching behind his head to then clamp their arm tight from there.

It's awkward to get used to, but all you need to do is stop them posting. As soon as you begin to elevate them with your butterfly hook, you can bring your head out and switch to a more comfortable grip on their arm, controlling their elbow. From there, finish the sweep as normal if you're able to get your leg into position, or aim to end up in a strong knee slide position and pass from there.

As an alternative to what Scully suggests, you could also try using the paw position. If you are able to slide down and control their elbow, that is a much simpler variation, but it may be difficult to pull their arm in enough without them managing to swim it free.
Teaching Notes: Get that underhook arm right up into their armpit, making sure you whack them forwards, where your head in pointing. I like to flick with the butterfly hook, but if you end up following through, make sure they don't manage to trap your knee. With the knee free, you can either go to mount, or move that knee to the other side to knee slide.

04 August 2022

03/08/2022 - Teaching | Half guard | Basic maintaining & back take

Teaching #Evening
Artemis BJJ (7 Easton Rd), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 03/08/2022

Short Version:
  • Wrap one leg behind theirs, putting your shin behind the knee of your outside leg
  • Use that 'kickstand' to get on your side, blocking their crossface with either a 'paw' or facepalm
  • Drive your elbow to their armpit, rotating your arm around their back
  • Fire that arm into their armpit and kick to scoot down, shucking their arm
  • Come up on your elbow and knee, bring your leg over, then secure the back with a seatbelt grip

Full Version: In half guard, your first concern is to stop them flattening you out and starting their pass. They are generally going to want to establish an underhook on their trapped leg side, using the other arm to control under your head. In many ways, it is a similar position to standard side control. That will enable them to crush you to the mat, then exert lots of shoulder pressure to kill your mobility. Many of the same attacks from side control can also be viable from here, like an americana.

Naturally, you don't want them to reach that dominant position. Your goal is to get up on your side, with your own underhook around their back, on your trapped leg side. That is one of the main fights you'll have in half guard, so it is essential that you get used to working for that underhook.

If you can get the underhook, that accomplishes two things. First, it prevents them crushing their chest into yours, which would help them flatten you out. Second, it means you can press into their armpit to help disrupt their base, as well as help you get up onto your side. You can use your knee knocking into their bum at the same time to help with this too, as that should bump them forward.

For your leg positioning, the standard half guard is to have the inside leg wrapped around with your foot on the outside. Your other leg triangles over your ankle. This provides you with what SBG refer to as a 'kickstand': that outside leg is useful for bridging and general leverage. It's harder for them to flatten you out if you can resist with that kickstand structure.

After you've controlled a leg, got the underhook and onto your side, you want to block their arms. Almost a decade ago, Indrek Reiland put together an awesome video (made even more awesome by being free) about the fundamentals of half guard. The main principle I use from Reiland is what he calls the 'paw'.

By that, he means hooking your hand around their bicep, just above the elbow. You aren't gripping with your thumb: this is just a block, to prevent them getting a cross-face. Reiland emphasises that preventing that cross-face is the main principle. Therefore, if you can feel they are about to remove your paw by swimming their arm around, bring your underhooking hand through to replace your first paw with a second: this is what Reiland calls the 'double-paw' (as he says in the video, it's an approach he learned from SBG black belt John Frankl).

Similarly, if they manage to underhook your underhook, bring that arm over for a double-paw (this is also applicable from the start, if you're framing against their neck), then work to recover your underhook. Keep in mind with the double-paw that you need to make sure you don't leave space under your elbow. Otherwise, as Reiland demonstrates, they can they go for a brabo choke. Get the elbow of your top double-pawing arm to their nearest armpit, as that makes it easier to circle your arm around to their back.

To take the back, fire your underhooking arm up into their armpit. You're trying to knock them forwards, while simultaneously scooting your body down towards their legs. At that point, pull your 'paw' arm back, so that you can base on that elbow, swiftly pushing up onto the hand. That should give you the balance to reach around to their lat with what was your underhooking arm. For further control, swing your leg over their back too. Establish a hook by digging your heel inside their knee. Finally, get a seatbelt grip (one arm under their armpit, the other over their shoulder, locking your hands together) and roll towards your non-hooking foot for standard back control.

To help with the back take, it is a good idea to tweak out their leg before you swivel up. Your outside leg steps over and drags their leg out. This disrupts their base, making it much easier to go to their back. It can also lead to the easier to control back position where you have brought them down to the mat, rather than leaping onto their turtle (which feels inherently less stable).
Teaching Notes: Fairly happy with this at the moment. I think it is of use mentioning you can generate extra momentum with that kick, but that it isn't always necessary. Also worth noting that knee shield makes a big difference, but that we'll cover that in a future lesson as it's important to learn the basics first.