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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 June 2022

22/06/2022 - Teaching | Back | Panda defence & scoop escape

Teaching #Evening
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 22/06/2022

Before they get their upper body grips, immediately leans forwards. Protect your neck by keeping your hands close, palms facing outwards (snapping at any grips attempting to come in: IIRC, Priit uses the handy metaphor of piranhas). Keep your forearms tightly in your hip creases, elbows slightly past your hips. The further you can lean forward, the better.

If they attempt to step a leg over the top of your leg, underhook it, turn and go for the pass. If your defences havea gat and they do manage to get their hooks in, grab around their feet. With your arms inside their legs for extra leverage, pull up on their feet. That should make it really hard for them to do anything proactive.
This then leads to the scoop. As with any escape, you need to stay tight. Should you prefer a different hand position to the piranha, there are numerous schools of thought on just how to do that: clamping your hands to both sides of your neck (which I learned as the 'Shirley Temple' defence), crossing your hands over your neck, grabbing both your collars, and Saulo's method of just grabbing one collar, keeping the other hand free to block.

If you go for any of those options, you need to be careful that you don't reach too far with that free hand. If you do, then you may give them space to establish a firm grip or launch their attack. Keep the 'defensive zone' of the free arm small, with your elbow staying tight. Should they manage to get past your arms and being setting up a choke, you'll probably have to bail on that and simply grab their arm. The first priority when somebody takes your back is protecting your neck.

What Saulo calls the 'scoop' back escape starts with that hand positioning, one thumb in the opposite collar and the other hand defending. The same thing works from the panda position too (but be careful if you are pulling up on their feet, as their legs are in a vulnerable position when you move your hips forwards). For this escape to work, you need to have prevented (or cleared) any grips they have below your arms. That then enables you 'scoop' your upper body down and your hips forwards, as low as you can. Next, kick out one of your legs to clear their hook (you may also need to nudge it with your elbow), then drop your other elbow down past their other leg and turn.

That's a little counter-intuitive: keep in mind you are not turning towards the hook you kicked free. You also need to be careful here that they can't re-establish their second hook: block it with your elbow and knee if they try. Once you've turned, stay heavy on their leg and move up into side control.
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Teaching Notes: I should look more into that escape where the feet are grabbed and Priit spins around from there. Also, emphasising the elbows are on the inside of the legs when they get their hooks in against panda. Do you need both arms under the leg when they step a leg over, or is one enough? To turn you would have to remove one arm anyway, unless I'm forgetting something Priit taught.

01 June 2022

01/06/2022 - Teaching | Back | Basic maintaining

Teaching #Evening
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 01/06/2022



The back is a great position to be in. There are lots of submissions, your opponent can't easily see what you're doing, and you'll also get four points in competition (once you've got your hooks in). The first thing to note is a basic safety point, which is don't cross your feet. If you cross your feet, then all your partner has to do is cross their feet over yours and bridge, footlocking you. Instead, you want to be hooking your insteps inside their legs, or digging your heels in. The idea is to generate enough connection with your feet that when your partner rolls to one side, you will roll with them.

Having said that, there are situations where you can cross your feet. The main one to avoid is crossing them in front, low enough that your partner can easily triangle their legs over the top. You can get away with crossing them up higher, though be aware that in competition you won't get any points. Another option where crossing your feet can conversely be a great control is a single hook, Marcelo Garcia style. One leg is in front, the other behind: this can be useful when you only have one hook (though again, it won't get you points in competition, despite being a good control).



Second, you want to get a good grip with your arms. The harness grip (as always, various other names, like over-under and seatbelt) is a solid option for both gi and nogi. Begin by getting an arm under their same side armpit, so they can't slide down (as otherwise they can go for the scoop escape). If they have a gi, you can help secure the position by grabbing their opposite collar. The other arm comes over their shoulder.

If you can't grab a collar, then link your hands together, using that to lock yourself in place. You could also grab under both arms grabbing a collar, which is a excellent way to hold them in place. However, that means both your arms are occupied: for attacks, you have more options if you keep one arm free, to go over the shoulder.

Your arm by the shoulder is the one you'll be looking to shift into their neck and/or grabbing a collar, where you can start working for a choke. Stephan Kesting advises that rather than linking hands, you can grab your own arm, which in turn means you are blocking the best grip your opponent wants to get. As ever, play around and see what you prefer.

Third, keep your chest pressed against their upper back. To escape, they need to create space, so don't let them have any: stay glued to their upper back. This is very important, as most escapes will rely on them creating distance between your chest and their upper back. You also don't want them to put you flat on your back, like in the bridge escape, as then they can start moving their hips. If you drop back, make sure you've moved to the side. However, your ideal position is getting them face down (as long as you have your grips, otherwise it can be awkward to move into position for an attack).

Fourth, follow them with your hips, similar as when you're in their guard. If you keep moving your hips to square back up whenever they try and shift away, that again stops them creating space.

Finally, you want to keep your head locked to theirs, providing additional control. It also helps you to see what they're doing. Otherwise, their head would be blocking your line of sight. Place your head next to theirs on the armpit hand side, as that way you're controlling both sides of their skull.

Often, you will find that you end up falling to one side. Ideally, you want to try and fall to your choking arm side (the arm that is over their shoulder), as if they try to escape that way and you have a choke partially locked in, they're moving deeper into the choke. It also means you have greater mobility, as falling to the other side your arm would be stuck under their armpit. Be sure to also keep your bottom foot hooked: if they clear the top one, you can recover, but losing the bottom one means it will be tough to prevent their escape.



I finished off with the simple way of recovering mount from the back. They've cleared one hook and managed to put their shoulders onto the mat. It will be tough to regain your back mount from here, especially if they've moved over your leg. As soon as you feel their bum move past your knee, bring your remaining hook over their body and clamp the heel to their far hip. Make sure it is providing you with enough control that they can't simply shrug you off. Pull out your elbow for base, then turn and slide through into mount, using your heel for leverage.

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Teaching Notes: I can't think of anything particular to add, so I'll just repeat what I said last time. You can only have head tight on the armpit side, that's worth noting. If they fall the other way, go for the choke, I guess? Also, Tom Barlow's tip on establishing the seat belt close to their armpit, harder for them to strip it away.

I reckon Charles' tips on kicking behind the legs could help here. I'm still not sure on the best format for the lesson, maybe that fits better in the 'regaining hooks' class? I do like mentioning the single hook, but it's possible I could put that all in the regaining hooks lesson. Next time, I'll try have the single hook stuff and Charles' material, see if that makes things too long or not.

30 May 2022

30/05/2022 - Teaching | Side control | Baseball bat choke

Teaching #Evening
Artemis BJJ (Easton Rd), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 24/06/2022

Start in standard side control, one hand under their head, heavy cross-face. Slide that back slightly, in order to grab right behind their collar, where the label would be. Straighten that arm firmly, so that your forearm is pressing into their neck.



The tricky part is bringing in your second hand. You need to get your hand on top of the other, holding their collar like a baseball bat (hence the name of the choke). To do so, your second arm has to slide down along their far lapel (fingers first), as you have to get your second arm pressed against the other side of their neck for the choke. Angle the elbow of your second arm inwards, towards your first arm.

Put your knee on their belly to stop them escaping, then apply the choke by twisting inwards. This should make your arms press firmly into both sides of their neck: your first arm stays fairly static, it's the weight dropping through the second elbow that applies most of the choke. Be careful you are pressing into the sides of the neck, not the windpipe. If you need more leverage, try rotating around to a north south type position, putting your head on their chest.


A handy alternative is to use the gi as a way of providing the grips you need. Pull out their gi lapel on the far side, dragging that under their arm. Grip it with your crossfacing hand, straightening your arm into their neck. The second grip comes in as before, except that this should be much easier because you don't have to slide it inside their collar, where they are likely to realise and block the hand. Once you have the grips in place, you can finish as before.
Years ago, Donal showed me a method for avoiding telegraphing your grips. He suggested putting in your second grip first. This is a little confusing at first, but if you get into the habit of putting in your second grip (backwards, as you're going to follow it in a moment), it will make you baseball bat choke sneakier. Admittedly I get confused, as I haven't practiced it enough yet myself. ;)


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Teaching Notes: Importance of mentioning knee on belly as a way to stop them escaping their hips. I could mention that you can do the same thing from the bottom, though it is low percentage. Possibly go more in depth on Donal's second grip first (but backwards) method, though I did remember to show it.