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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

21 June 2016

21/06/2016 - BJJ Globetrotter Camp | Leuven 2016 | Bow & Arrow Choke (Brad Wolfson)

Class #727
BJJ Globetrotter Camp (Sportoase Leuven), Brad Wolfson, Leuven, Belgium, 21/06/2016

I was looking forward to this after Wolfson's first lesson yesterday, because his teaching approach gelled well with my learning style. The classes I'm going to make a particular effort to attend are those that break this down into short sections, focusing on a small number of techniques without a million steps. Wolfson made me even keener to attend his lessons with an early quote from today, where he talked about how he didn't care if we only did one technique for an hour, the important thing was getting that sorted. Exactly what I want. I can think of nothing better in terms of format if all the instructors picked one technique for their whole class (that's how I most like to learn, which is why I teach that way).

A video posted by Can (Jun) (@slideyfoot) on


The technique in question was the bow and arrow choke. That was a contrast to yesterday, as this is a technique I know well and have taught plenty of times. Starting from standard back control with a seat-bet grip, you open up their collar with the hand you have under their armpit. Grip it with the hand you have over their shoulder. I normally tell my students not to grip too high, but interestingly Wolfson made a point of saying where you grip didn't matter (and demonstrated it too). So I may be emphasising that too much, something for me to play with.

His progression from there was different too. Instead of grabbing the non-choking side leg to help swing into position, he doesn't force the position. Instead, he reacts to their escape attempt. As they bring their leg out in the standard bridging back escape, he comes up on his choking elbow, bringing his leg up to their neck (like you would if you were looking to do the technical mount style back retake). Your other foot is in technical mount now, having shifted across (like another thing I often teach, going to mount if they start to escape the back). Thrust your hips into them, also driving off that foot, lifting their head and upper torso sideways.

That gives you the space to bring the leg nearest their head over their neck, grab their leg for control, then drop back and secure the choke. I prefer to be upright for the choke, so it's useful to have more details on the alternative way to finish. There was plenty more detail too: most of the classes at BJJ Globetrotter Camps will be a series of techniques and a short bit of drilling, packing in up to around six techniques (normally related, but not always: the latter classes are the ones I tend to avoid, as I get confused if it's loads of unrelated stuff. I'm easily confused ;D).

Wolfson also showed how you could enter the back from knee on belly, moving to bow and arrow from there. You're going for a cross choke from knee on belly. Your first hand gets into the collar no problem, they block the second hand, leaving it by their shoulder or gi. That's fine, as this is just the set-up (though of course you can finish the choke if they don't block it successfully enough). Step around their head unwinding your hands, then do a kettlebell swing motion to lift them upright. Just as with a kettlebell swing, this should be about the hip thrust, not pulling with your back. I felt like I was using my back too much on this, plus I seemed to jam my wrist a bit, so I'll need to play with it some more (with a light training partner, to be safe).

Finally, if you can't get your hand in for the grip, use your own gi instead. Pull out your lapel, passing that tightly over their shoulder to your other hand. Wolfson had an evocative simile here, saying "throw it over their shoulder like a cape." You can then lock that in and apply the rest of the choke as normal. The gi is able to cut past their hands, or even if not, you can often choke them with their own hand by tightening that lapel across. Naturally it isn't invincible, sometimes people will be able to defend (especially if they get both hands in and clamp their elbows down). If that happens, just as with any bow and arrow choke, you can just switch to one of the many follow-ups, like an armbar. If they are committing to grabbing your lapel and pushing it away, almost always they will leave a gap somewhere else as a result.

20 June 2016

20/06/2016 - BJJ Globetrotter Camp | Leuven 2016 | The Dummy Catcher (Brad Wolfson)

Class #726
BJJ Globetrotter Camp (Sportoase Leuven), Brad Wolfson, Leuven, Belgium, 20/06/2016

Wolfson was keeping his cards close to his chest with the name of this one, originally the last class of the camp, later moved to become the last one for Monday. The position looked like it might fit with the Ryan Hall/Jeff Rockwell style open guard I’ve been playing with, using frames and coming up on the elbow. The Dummy Catcher comes into play as or just after they pass your guard. Bring your inside arm over their head and arm, tight to the neck. Anchor that arm by grabbing behind your nearest knee, preventing them from moving away or freeing their arm.

The first of four techniques was attacking their enclosed arm. To get it into place, bridge and knock them in the direction your hips are pointing, forcing them to post with their hand (if they don’t, there are follow ups). Grab that wrist and push it to their head. You need to make sure their elbow stays on the ground, by your hip. Scoot your hip in closer, then bring your arm-anchoring leg over their wrist. You can now twist your hips to apply an americana: be careful, this can come on quickly.

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It’s very likely that they will prevent you isolating their arm like that, either by straightening it or folding it back. Should that happen, you will probably be able to continue your roll and knock them right over. Bridge and bring them over the top. I was concerned for my lower back doing this, but on reflection, I can just switch to the third technique if I feel any resistance or strain. That is very simple, as you just swing or walk your legs out the way to knock them over. This is most effective when they are trying to bring their weight back to avoid being rolled over: it’s the same kind of leg motion as Jeff Rockwell’s counter to the knee cut, which I also want to work.

Finally, if you can’t get the arm, you can’t roll them over and you can’t adjust to knock them in another direction, there is a fourth possibility. The scenario Wolfson demonstrated for this was if they come up on their toes and drive their weight through your shoulder, preventing you from coming up on your elbow or hand. You will then search for their leg with your lower foot, then hook your higher foot behind their knee (depending on your flexibility, you may not need to search for the leg first). Once you have that secured, you can lift and turn, in a ‘wing sweep’ motion.

Wolfson also went through some tips from kesa gatame, starting with bringing your leg right under their shoulder. In terms of preventing being rolled over, you can go onto the ball of your foot rather than pressing your entire sole onto the mat, also angling your knee towards their head. That makes your base much stronger. He added some submission at the end, but as soon as the words ‘neck crank’ left his mouth (particularly when coupled with ‘catch wrestling’), I switched off. I have a strong aversion to all the nasty, painful stuff that catch wrestling seems to thrive on, though that’s just my personal hang-up, nothing to do with the efficacy of the techniques. ;)

20/06/2016 - BJJ Globetrotter Camp | Leuven 2016 | Closed Guard (Wim Deputter)

Class #725
BJJ Globetrotter Camp (Sportoase Leuven), Wim Deputter, Leuven, Belgium, 20/06/2016

Deputter began his lesson with an exercise to get the right hip movement in closed guard. First, bring your hips up, driving them into your partner. Then shoot them back down, pulling your partner in with your knees, wrapping your arms around them to keep everything tight. Adding to that, he then showed how when you feel their weight going one way, bring your head and torso to the other side. That means when you pull them down, you’re in position to take their back or set up a sweep.

A sweep therefore followed next. In order to get the momentum, he pulled them in, then extended his hips up as he lifted his knees. It was a tricky motion to work out in sparring: watching the video as I type this up during the nogi class makes it a little clearer, but I’ll need to drill that a lot more at open mat. Anyway, for the sweep, establish a pistol grip on their sleeve, your other hand gripping their knee. Thrust your hips up, then pull your knees in to lift them up (the tricky motion). Angle off to look in their ear, so you gripping hand is far away from you. Then kick your leg into the armpit, lift the knee and sweep.

If you can’t get that sweep in for whatever reason, keep the sleeve grip and turn away, so your non-gripping elbow is on the floor. Extend your hip and punch your gripping arm away from you, stiff arming so you can then pass it off to the other hand, locking in the gift wrap, their arm getting pulled around their own neck as a result.

Often they will stand up in the closed guard. A useful standing sweep to try is the handstand sweep, which Deputter does differently to how I’ve seen it before. He begins the same, wrapping an arm around their leg. With your non-hooking arm, grip their arm on the trapped leg side: in the scenario he demonstrated, they had a sleeve grip on your non-hooking arm, but you could still adjust to grab their other sleeve. The main difference is his reliance on the legs to off balance, rather than driving hips into their knee. Once he had his sleeve grips, he opening his legs, curling the hooking side leg by their hip. That continues to curl in, while the other leg chops up and across into their armpit. I think he kept cycling his legs to knock them over, but even with a video, it was hard to be certain.

The final technique was an omoplata sweep. You are trying to get into position for your handstand sweep, but they turn in their knee and solidify their base. Reach the arm you have under their leg through, to grab their sleeve. At the same time, you are gripping their collar. Swivel through, pulling on their elbow to move into the omoplata position. You aren’t going to use the swing of your legs to finish. Instead, put your free foot on the back of their head, pushing it down. You should then be able to extend and roll through for the sweep. Deputter then somehow managed to swivel through into an armbar, staying really tight, but I didn’t quite catch the details.

20/06/2016 - BJJ Globetrotter Camp | Leuven 2016 | BJJ Fundamentals (Christian Graugart)

Class #724
BJJ Globetrotter Camp (Sportoase Leuven), Christian Graugart, Leuven, Belgium, 20/06/2016

After a big general introduction, the first class was taken by the BJJ Globetrotter himself, Christian Graugart. His approach was simple, a single concept that he feels applies to everything in jiu jitsu. That concept is controlling the space between the knees and chest. If you’re on top, you are looking to put whatever you can into that space to attain your controlling position. That might be reaching an arm across to the far hip, sticking your knee in before they can recover guard, or even stepping through their legs and placing your foot there.

Underneath, you are looking to recover that space between your knees and chest. This looks more complex, especially as it is liable to involve tricky motions like inverting. I am always very wary of that, due to the strain it can put on your neck and back. I look forward to Graugart’s next class, where he said he is going to go into more detail on defending the guard pass, the area I’ve been trying to develop for the last few years.

After he had shown us that concept, there wasn’t much else for him to say beyond answering a few questions. The main challenges to the concept were footlocks, though Graugart felt that you still control that middle space to apply those effectively. The other big question is submissions, which can be applied without attaining a good position first, but it is a lot more difficult. Drilling was unusual, as we were just practicing staying on top by spinning around, then the same underneath. It was made a lot more difficult by the enormous numbers present at the first class. I am assuming pretty much all 250 people are on the mats, meaning that space is at a real premium. Judging by last year, when I only popped down on the Thursday, those numbers drop considerably during the week.

15 June 2016

15/06/2016 - Teaching | Half Guard | Kimura (Bottom)

Teaching #519
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 15/06/2016

To secure the kimura from the bottom of half guard, start from a 'double paw' on the arm they're using to try and cross-face you. Slide one hand down to their wrist, the other wrapping around their elbow. Flare that elbow out while simultaneously pushing their wrist towards their leg. That should collapse the arm, enabling you to then reach over their arm with your elbow hand, gripping your other wrist to lock in the figure four. Alternatively, you can simply sit up and reach over to lock in the figure-four.

Either way, if they sit back and try to free their arm, you can move into a hip bump sweep, much like you would from closed guard. If not, curl your wrists in to prevent them straightening the arm. Clamp the elbow to your chest, then you can torque for the kimura as usual. If they hide their arm, you could initially try Xande's option from my favourite online instruction site, BJJ Library. Xande shows how even if they are hiding their arm, as long as you can get the grip, you can still harvest that limb. He does it by scooting his hips towards them.

Another excellent resource is Andrew 'Goatfury' Smith, well known for his expertise in the kimura, all to be found on his brilliant Hubpages sequence of tutorials. He suggests shrimping away to make space, then bringing your leg all the way past their head, until you can push off their hip (on the same side as their trapped arm). That should give you enough leverage to yank that free. He is also the source of that handy tip on collapsing the arm.
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Teaching Notes: Lots to emphasise and change next time. The basic grip was causing some people trouble, so next time I might suggest grabbing the meat of the hand, to make sure people aren't compromising the integrity of their frames to secure the grip. Also, clamping elbow to chest needs emphasising too, people weren't doing that enough: I did say it, but I think I need to demonstrate it more clearly to highlight where your arms should be. Also, curling the wrists inwards, as well as gripping with the fingers and thumb over the top.

People were having real difficulty extracting their leg in order to bring it all the way over the top, so that needs more emphasising. That should be easy to solve though, as it is mainly a matter of shrimping out enough to create the space to get that leg over.

15/06/2016 - Teaching | Women's Class | Butterfly Sweep

Teaching #518
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 15/06/2016

Marcelo Garcia has written that when passing butterfly guard, it's important to keep in mind that "unlike the closed guard or half guard, in the butterfly guard, your opponent is not trying to hold you in place." In my opinion, the ensuing dynamism and movement makes butterfly guard a more advanced position, which requires greater sensitivity and timing than closed or half guard.

So, I stuck with the most basic technique in butterfly, which is the classic butterfly sweep. There are numerous grips to try, but for me there are three main ones: collar and sleeve, deep underhook and the shoulder clamp. Having the collar opens up chokes, as well as providing excellent control to switch into other attacks and sweeps. The shoulder clamp gives you the option of sweeping in either direction (either away from underhook side, or if you can get your arm by their head, leveraging up with your elbow under their head to go towards the underhook), as well as things like pressing armbars and omoplatas.

However, the deep underhook is the way I first learned and I think the easiest one to teach. Saulo calls this the 'competition' grip, I guess because it must have been something he noticed appearing more in competition (as opposed to the collar grip, which he dubs 'classic': interestingly, his personal preference is grabbing the front of the belt, not something I've ever had much success with). You reach under their armpit as far as you can, getting your shoulder in if possible. Secure that arm around their back, or you can grab the belt.

With the legs, it tends to be slightly more straightforward. Either you're going to have both feet hooked under their thighs, with your knees flared out wide, or you'll have one hook in, the other knee on the ground: I'd recommend the latter. That angle helps with the sweep, I find, as well as making it harder for them to drive your back to the mat. In both leg configurations, you want to have your forehead driving into their chest. If they can get their head under yours, that's problematic, because then they can drive you flat on your back and start their pass.

Butterfly also links back to sitting guard, of which butterfly is effectively a short range version. That's because in both, you can put an arm behind you for base and mobility. It makes it harder for them to collapse you to your back, while also enabling you to keep angling off. That sets you up for attacks (especially the butterfly sweep, along with various fun from the underhook, like pressing armbars, back takes etc). Armdrags are another big area for butterfly, though that's a topic for another day.

Whatever grip, the basic mechanics of the sweep are broadly similar. You need to have some kind of control over their arm on the side you want to sweep, otherwise they will be able to post. Grab the sleeve or the wrist, possibly the elbow if you can sufficiently control their lower arm too. Lean back very slightly to get their weight towards you, then drop to your shoulder on the sleeve grabbing arm, lifting as you drop. Switch your legs, bringing one under the other in order to establish scarf hold, heavy on your cross face. If you've lifted them up but they aren't going over, try hopping towards your lifting leg with your other leg. That should eventually provide the leverage to knock them to the mat.
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Teaching Notes: On the shoulder clamp, I didn't feel we really got into the importance of sitting up, so I'll focus more on that next time. It is perhaps a bit too complex to squeeze into an hour together with other butterfly grips: possibly something to show in isolation, though I do often teach multiple techniques in the women's class. On pushing the head down, it's important to get the elbow right by the back of the head, as well as keeping your arms in tight. If that starts loosening, they have too much room to move and may be able to pull their head and/or arm free. Gable grip makes it much easier to sweep too: Kirsty was naturally moving into the forearm clasp, which is good for maintaining the grip, but sweeping is tough from there.