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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a purple belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

24 October 2016

24/10/2016 - Teaching | Mount | Trap & Roll Escape

Teaching #579
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 24/10/2016

A video posted by Artemis BJJ (@artemisbjj) on

For the trap and roll escape (commonly called the 'upa', which presumably means something in Portuguese), a typical starting point would be when they try to establish their first grip on your collar (or your neck, if you aren't wearing a gi) for a choke. That provides you with a chance to trap their arm. The usual grip would be to grab their wrist with your opposite hand, then just above their elbow with your other hand. This is the preferred grip on Gracie Combatives. The reasoning is that this grip prevents your opponent from drawing back their arm for a punch.

There are various other possibilities, such as the option I first learned, which was gripping their wrist with your same side hand, then grabbing the crook of their elbow with your opposite hand. That has the advantage of helping you wedge your elbow and arm into their chest, which provides additional leverage when rolling them over. Having said that, you can still use your elbow with the Gracie Combatives grip, it's just slightly less effective as your arm starts further away from their torso.

Whatever grip you choose, you then need to trap their leg on that same side. Otherwise, they will be able to use their leg for base as you attempt to roll them. In order to prevent that, step your same side foot over their lower leg, hooking it in tightly to your bum. This means they are now like a chair with two of its legs missing. If you aren't too flexible and therefore can't easily bring your leg back, push it back with your other leg. For some extra control, slide your controlling foot horizontally across towards your bum, which should eat up some more space. If you aren't flexible, you could try pushing it in place with your other foot (a tip I learned from my student Jim the first time I taught this to him, as he's had part of his hamstring removed).

Even if they can't post with their leg, they might be able to use their knee, so you want to have their leg as tightly locked to your body as possible. Also, be careful that you don't end up hooking both their feet, or leave your other leg in range of their hook. It is possible for the person on top to defend this escape by securing a hook with their free leg, under your non-trapping leg. Therefore, try to keep the leg they might be able to control out of range.

A common problem is that you're having trouble trapping their foot, because it is too high up. If that happens, try using your elbow (or even your hand, if you need more reach, but that could leave your neck vulnerable) to shove their knee backwards, until their lower leg is in range. This is an advantage of the Gracie Combatives grip, as putting a hand behind their triceps puts your elbow in a good position for shoving back their knee.

Yet another option, if their arm is not in range, is to bridge enough to bump them forward, nudging them in the bum with your knee if you want more leverage. That should mean they are forced to post out their hands for balance, a difficult instinct to ignore. That puts their arm within reach. You can then wrap both of your arms around one of theirs, gable gripping your hands (palm to palm). Suck that arm into your chest, clamping it at the elbow.

To finish, you're going to bridge towards that trapped side. As with basic side control escapes, get your heels close to your bum first for maximum leverage. Bridge up and over your shoulder, turning to your knees: this puts you inside their guard. Make sure that you're bridging over your shoulder and not simply rolling over to your side. If you don't raise your hips properly, you may merely give up your back.

If you find you need more leverage, most commonly if they are posting with their free hand to stop your roll, you could attempt to dislodge that by pushing their arm off the ground. Alternatively, Rickson Gracie has a great detail, which he demonstrated in a video a while ago. Simply angle your head away from the shoulder you're rolling over: this increases your range of motion.

When you've successfully rolled them over, that puts you in the guard position. Remember to posture up immediately as you reach that position: if you are leaning forwards, they can control your posture, putting you at risk of a submission.

Teaching Notes: Things to emphasise next time, make sure people aren't trying to overwrap the arm, as that tends to leave a hand free to post, or worse, it can potentially mash up your partner's fingers/wrist if their hand is flat on the mat when you roll. Arm needs to be locked to the centre of the chest. Also, foot position on trapping their foot, along with what to do if somebody has difficulty doing that (like Jim: another thing to keep in mind is that you can still knock a chair over if it has three legs, you just need to be more accurate with your angle).

I got in a little bit of specific sparring, slowly easing my back into it. The injury is feeling way better, but I'm not quite ready for full sparring yet. Hopefully soon. :)

23 October 2016

23/10/2016 - Private with Kev | Open/Closed Guard Maintenance

Class #776 - Private #026
RGA Aylesbury, (BJJ), Kev Capel, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK - 23/10/2016

To mark my approaching ten year anniversary in BJJ, I thought I'd book another private with Kev. Open guard has continued to be the weakest area for me, so we focused on that. Kev started off by sharing a few guard retention drills he's found useful (both to practice and to teach). They're related to the series he taught a long while back, but I think this version encourages more hip rotation, which is useful.

You've established a basic open guard, feet on their hips. They grab your ankle and pull it across, the beginning of a leg drag. Turn your hips in order to bring your other leg across, then push off that to recover square on. Then they go a bit further, so you push into the knot of their belt, again recovering to guard. The reason you go for the knot is that too far in either direction could lead to footlocks, them dislodging your foot and passing, or the Estima footlock (there's still a risk of that, but it's less). As you swivel, you yank your other leg free by pulling your knee to your chest.

If they manage to get to the knee cut pass, there is a counter you can try (a little like the ones from Leuven). Ideally you want to get your knee shield in, that's the most powerful defence. If you've missed that, first grab their gi collar, your fist into their neck. It's important your palm is facing down, that makes it harder for them to knock that hand out of the way. Your other elbow goes behind, to give you enough base to scoot away and get your knee shield in, then recover guard.

Playing open guard generally, Kev recommends getting a grip on their same side trouser leg first, as that tends to be the hard one to get. Shin-on-shin is the quickest guard to establish, making sure you keep your shin engaged. If you aren't actively pushing that into their shin, they can simply whip their leg around. Similarly, you need to keep your other leg pressed into their knee, constantly pressurising them.

Kev prefers sitting guard. Again, after you've wrapped your leg and arm around, keeping the pressure on their other leg with your free leg. If you don't, they'll squish you with their knee. From here, you can kick up to knock them past your head, or sweep your leg back to go into a single leg. There's de la Riva and x-guard entries from here too, but as neither of those are main guards for me, I can save those for a later date.

If they get strong sleeve grips, Kev suggested moving into spider guard to help reduce the power of those grips. He doesn't tend to sweep much with that (apart from the push on the floor one to knock them towards his head and then sweep), instead using it to set up closed guard.

From closed guard, there was another handy tip. The first thing Kev does is grab the meat of their hands by the thumb side, twisting both of their hands so they face upwards. That makes it really hard for them to get any kind of grips. Their reaction will indicate the next move. Kev likes to move an arm across and pull them in with the knees, to get that strong position where they are collapsed over their own arm.

That leads into what Nic Gregoriades randomly (but memorably) calls the 'chimp, chump, champ' series. The words don't entirely fit, but the idea here is that a 'chimp' won't react, so they just sit there in that position. Grabbing their lat, you can move into a back take. A 'chump' will make the mistake of putting up their leg on the non-trapped arm side. You can then hook that with your same side leg and sweep them. A 'champ' puts up their leg on the other side: that gives you the opportunity to move into an armbar.

My preference is the shoulder clamp grip, which Kev noted would be something to move into if they try to move their arms out to recover their hands. You can capitalise on their focus on their hands to pull them in and thread into a shoulder clamp.

Finally, in terms of passing open guard, there is another hand grip that's handy: you're also grabbing the meat of the hand, but the other side (i.e., under the little finger), forcing their palms down. As with the closed guard option, that makes it hard for them to establish grips. You can then step your same side leg behind their knee, moving around to a perpendicular angle.

Once you've got that angle and can drive your knee in behind theirs (into a sort of knee-led leg drag), you 'land the airplane', coming in low to lock up the pass. I think that was the last technique, hopefully I didn't forget anything on my way to the train. Before I left, Kev popped a fourth stripe on my purple belt, which is always nice.

21 October 2016

21/10/2016 - Teaching | Mount | Armbar from Bow & Arrow

Teaching #578
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 21/10/2016

The bow and arrow choke is an attack from the back, but you can also do it from technical mount. That's because many back attacks are applicable from technical mount too: it's a halfway position between mount and the back, with the benefits of both. Given that the back and the mount are the two most dominant positions in BJJ (theoretically at least, reflected by their points tally in most BJJ competition rule sets), that means technical mount is a great place to be.

From mount, you're looking to get their shoulder off the ground so you can slide a knee underneath. If you've already managed to get a grip for a choke (in mount, people will be complacent about your first grip, it's the second one that gets them flailing), use that to pull the shoulder up. Slide your knee up behind the head, turning to face their opposite arm. At the same time, bring your other heel tight to their far hip.

Reach around their head, using your other hand to push their same side collar towards that waiting hand by their head. Hide your reaching arm elbow (as pulling on that is the main escape from the bow and arrow choke) and grab their same side leg with your other hand. To finish, it's the same as when going from the back. Pull your hand down (like you were cracking a whip), pressing your forearm into their head (you can drive with your shoulder too). If that doesn't work, you can try increasing the range by gripping with less fingers (though this does make your grip weaker). Putting a leg over their shoulder and then crossing your feet can give you more leverage, as you can then thrust your hips up into the choke.

A video posted by Artemis BJJ (@artemisbjj) on

If that still isn't getting the choke, try bringing the hand that was gripping their leg behind their head, driving it through to push their head forward as you lock in the choke. For even more leverage, you can bring it under their arm. That then sets you up for yet another follow-up submission: the armbar is right there from that position.

Teaching Notes: I focused on the arm behind the head variation and the armbar, as that combines with the armbars and chokes we've been doing already. I wasn't sure if this was worth teaching as well as doing it from the back, but it is a little different, so yeah, worth doing again. I love technical mount, it's such a powerful position: it's also really handy in terms of structure, as I normally follow mount month with a month on the back.