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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

10 May 2022

09/05/2022 - Teaching | Side Control | Guard recovery

Teaching: Evening
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 09/05/2022

Short Version:
  • From your frame, bridge and shrimp
  • Bring your knee across their stomach, push to square your body back up
  • Hook their arm, grabbing your opposite shoulder, to stop them pushing your knee
  • Put your foot on the mat between their knee, use that to shrimp
  • Keep shrimping if you need more space to get back to guard

Full Version: First thing to note is that they will want to kill your near arm. This is bad for you, because it means you can't stop them shifting up towards your head. From there, they can make as much space as they want and pass to mount. So, you need to get your arm inside, the forearm pressing against their hip: this is more reliable than using your hand, as they can potentially still bring their body onto your hand and collapse it, especially if you're grabbing the gi (given the loose material). The forearm into the hip will help block their movement, and initiate your attempts to create some space. It should also help you block them moving to north south, as if you clamp your arm by their side, your body will move with them if they try to switch position.

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Be aware that having your forearm by their hip like that does leave you more open to the cross-face. So, you could potentially block inside their cross-facing arm instead, which will prevent their shoulder pressure. This is the Saulo method from his book, which has advantages, but personally I prefer to block the hip.

With your other hand, grab the gi material by their shoulder, close to their neck, then pull down. You're aiming to use the lower part of your forearm. Twist that arm up into their neck, keeping your elbow in: you need to be tight here, as otherwise they will go for a figure four on that arm. Once you've got the forearm into their neck, they can't press down into you, as they'll essentially be choking themselves. Note that this is a block: you don't want to start pushing and reaching, as that may leave you vulnerable. Reach too far and they can shove your arm to one side and set up an arm triangle.

Next I moved on to the legs. Your legs have two main purposes here: first, blocking your opponent getting to mount. Raise your near knee and drive it into their side. The idea is to wedge them between your knee and the arm you have by their hip. Personally, I like to keep my knee floating, glued to their side.


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That makes it easier to slip my knee under as soon as they give me any space, which is something I learned from Roger. Many people prefer to cross their foot over their knee, which is something I used to do in the past as well. However, as this long Sherdog thread discusses, that can leave you open to a footlock, and also limit your mobility. Then again, you can see it used at the highest levels, like here at the Mundials.

The second use for your legs is bridging. Marcelo Garcia has a handy tip for this (although the escape he is doing there is slightly different), related to increasing the power of your bridge. To do that, bring your heels right to your bum, then push up on your toes. That increases your range of motion, so you can really drive into them.

Make sure you turn into them as you bridge, rather than just straight up. This will help the next part, which is to shrimp out as you come back down. That's why you've created space in the first place: if you simply plopped back down, then you've wasted the opportunity. As soon as you shrimp out, slip the knee pressing into their side underneath. Note you aren't trying to lift them with your arms. Instead, you want to push off them, moving your body away rather than pushing theirs higher up. When your shin is over their stomach, you can use that to square your body up, pushing through your leg to move your head in line with theirs.

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Once your knee is through, you need to be careful they don't immediately pass by pushing down and moving around that knee, ruining all your hard work. Control their arm with your hip-bracing arm as you escape, like Roy Dean demonstrates in Blue Belt Requirements. Bring your arm just above their elbow, reaching across to your opposite shoulder. That will stop them pushing down on your knee, as their arm is trapped. With your free arm, grab their head to control their posture.

To get your knee out from under them, you'll be looking to shrimp in the direction you want your leg to go. Bring your leg over their back, on the side where you aren't controlling their arm. Get your other foot to mat, using the base you gain from that post to shrimp out. That should normally be enough to free the leg and get into closed guard.

If not, you'll need to keep shrimping (and you may need to keep both feet on the floor until you have shrimped far enough that you can comfortably get your legs out). Sometimes there isn't space, in which case you can push off the shin/knee you have pressed into their stomach/hip. Keep in mind that you also have the option of going to butterfly or some other open guard, if you are really struggling to get your legs out for closed guard.

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Teaching Notes: Emphasising that you need to use your forearm not your hand, as that bends at the wrist. Also, the basic important of bridging and shrimping, not just one or the other, as some people ended up doing. ;)

02 March 2022

02/03/2022 - Teaching | Half Guard | Maintaining, then take the back

Teaching (Evening)
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 02/03/2022

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). Similarly, you can drag their leg backwards in order to further disrupt their balance
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Teaching Notes: How important is adding the kick to get that momentum? It's useful, but mostly the leverage comes from that knock into their armpit. Use the dog fight switch I taught a while back (so you're on their leg), then drag their leg back, in order to make it easy to go the mat and bring them into a more standard back positions.

01 February 2022

01/02/2022 - Daytime, more on the knee slide pass with Adam Wardzinski details

Class #12##
Artemis BJJ (Easton Rd), Bristol, UK - 01/02/2022

I continued on with details for the knee slide/cut pass, looking forward to teaching this over the course of February. So many lovely details from that seminar I went to at RGA Bucks last weekend. :D



My videos are still going up regularly on my many Instagram channels, if you want to see something more frequently updated. The Artemis BJJ one is here, which has links to my other accounts.