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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 ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

18 November 2019

18/11/2019 - Teaching | Side Control | N/S Kimura

Teaching #915
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 18/11/2019

Short Version:
  • Control far arm, lock to chest
  • Pull them up onto their side
  • Step over and sit on their head
  • If necessary, switch arms, then establish figure four
  • Turn whole body to apply kimura

Full Version: For the north south kimura, start in side control, controlling their far arm. This is made easier if they aren't careful and let you bump their arm up onto your shoulder. Often they'll put it there themselves, attempting to reach your head, enabling you to trap their arm by your shoulder. Another possibility is that they turn and try to get an underhook.

Whether they put it there or you do, the next step is to wrap your arm over theirs, aiming to get just under their elbow to kill mobility in the limb. Ideally, also pull them up by that arm, so they're rolled onto their side. To lock it in place, grab your own collar, or just somewhere on your gi if you can't reach far enough. You'll also want to use you head, clamping your skull against their forearm. Braulio advises following their arm with your head: e.g., if they try to fling it down to the mat or something like that. Don't let them work their arm past your head.

You're also going to move round to north-south, so again you need to block their legs from running after you by putting a hand on the mat, near their bum (although it should be a bit harder for them to turn if you've locked up that arm). As you move around, you want to jam your knee into the armpit of their free arm, swivelling your lower leg under that arm as you move around. That makes it harder for them to escape. If you can't manage that, slide your knee over their free arm once you've got to north south. It is useful to maintain some kind of control on that free arm, as otherwise they can use it to try and create some space to escape.

You essentially end up sitting on their head, so in drilling, be aware that you don't want to squish your partner. You can take a bit of the weight off by transferring it to your knees: obviously in competition, that's less of a concern. As you sit up, make sure their elbow is glued to your chest.

The next important step is to establish a figure four on their trapped arm, which can be easier said than done. One simple method Kev showed me is to put your free hand in place, ready to grab their wrist. Next, turn your head away from their arm: this will push your shoulder forwards, which will then also knock their arm forwards, putting the wrist right into your waiting hand. It's then simple to complete the figure four grip.

To finish the kimura, simply turn back in the other direction, pushing their wrist towards the side their elbow is pointing . Alternatively, you can also bring the elbow of your non-clamping arm to their trapped arm side. Turn your body so you're facing their head, then apply the kimura from that lower position.

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If you make a mistake while looking to apply the kimura from that upright position, or they simply defend well, you might find that they are able to grab their own belt or gi. This will make it tough to complete the submission. You can try pulling in the direction their knuckles are pointing, or Roy Dean's option of using rhythm to break that grip. Push their arm towards them twice, as if you are really trying to break their grip, then yank hard in the other direction (aiming for the direction in which their fingers are weakest). Lovato Jr suggests adjusting your grip so that you're holding the meat of their hand rather than their wrist. He then does two quick jerks to yank their hand free.

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Teaching Notes: Must be under the elbow and have it locked tight to your shoulder, a number of people were too loose (due to being new, mostly). Pulling up on the arm and keeping it tight, making sure there is a bend. Trying to come up with general rules: have it on the same side shoulder as their arm? Not essential I guess as you can grab and bend the arm in various ways, but that's what works best for me.

In terms of videos, currently I've got the armbar and kimura hug follow ups on here, but could farm those out to other posts (as I've started to teach separate classes on the follow ups, as there are a LOT. To the extent I could make a whole seminar out of them).

06 November 2019

06/11/2019 - Teaching | Side Control | Hip to Hip

Teaching #912
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 06/11/2019

Today, I wanted to emphasise mobility in side control as well as focused pressure, again drawing on John Palmer's excellent 'control point theory'. Although it can be tempting to just seize up in side control, you have to keep moving. Otherwise, you aren't reacting to your opponent and they're eventually going to escape. The old "it's better to bend than to break" cliche comes to mind.

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That transitional, mobile element to side control can be seen in Saulo's hip-to-hip side control, which he shows on Jiu Jitsu Revolution. He keeps his hip stuck right by theirs throughout. The only time he lets off the pressure is if he gets something better, like strong control on the far arm. As they move, turn and put your other hip to theirs, following them around with your legs sprawled back. Your elbow is across, blocking their other hip: however, be careful of pinching that in too forcefully, as that may help them initiate an escape where they roll you over the top. Also, don't rest your elbow on the mat. Putting the elbow on the mat takes your weight off them, pinch it into their far hip instead.

Your weight should constantly be on them, because of that sprawl: don't touch the floor with your legs or knees. You can also reverse, which Saulo's brother Xande discusses in detail on his DVD set. Turn your hips in the other direction, so that you're now facing their legs. Control their far arm, also making sure to block their near hip to prevent their movement in that direction. As you turn, it's worth blocking their legs with your arms, as well as clamping your head to their hip.

My favourite way to practice this is using the 'no hands' maintenance drill, explained in the video:


Teaching Notes: As ever, mainly about the drilling. But there are still things to emphasise: maximum weight through minimum area, in this case the hip bone and your chest. Also, stay low, keep on your toes/side of your feet. Use your head for both grip and balance (forehead), don't lean too far towards the legs.

I could potentially talk about moving to north south and scarf hold etc here, which I did briefly (i.e., be ready to switch to different positions if you feel you're losing it), but that's not the main goal on this. Primary objective is to get students to think carefully about weight distribution.

Also, I use the secondary control of elbows quite a lot these days, especially combined with my favoured N/S transition. Would that fit in this lesson? As I am already talking about moving around, might be good to squeeze in. :D

04 November 2019

04/11/2019 - Teaching | Side Control | Maintaining side control (knee in hip, other leg back)

Teaching #911
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 04/11/2019

Short Version:
  • Control the shoulders and head by using a crossface
  • Block their hip with your knee, their far hip with your elbow
  • Keep your hips as low as possibly, staying on your toes
  • Get the centre of your chest pressing into the centre of their chest
  • Don't lean too far forward: if they try to roll you, post on your forehead

Full Version: As ever, I kicked off with the conceptual framework John described to me in Texas: the primary control points are the hips and the triangle of shoulders and head, secondary control is inside the knees and elbows, then finally tertiary control relates to the wrists and ankles. John goes into more detail over on this thread. I think it's helpful to have that framework at the start, as then the students can hopefully see how that principle filters through everything we'll be training today.

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A particularly effective method of control is applying a cross face. If you're not familiar with the term, that means bringing your near side arm under their head: I like to reach right to their far armpit and anchor my arm there, either by cupping, or by getting a hold of the gi material. From that position, you can then drive your shoulder and/or arm into the side of their head or neck, aiming to get their head to turn away from you and/or generate some choking pressure to distract them.

If they can't turn their head back towards you due to the shoulder pressure, it will make it much harder for them to create space and escape. "The body follows the head" or "where the head goes, the body follows" is an old adage and a true one. This is what SBG call the 'shoulder of justice.' If you shift your shoulder from their face to their neck, that choking pressure can also open up opportunities to switch to mount or consider initiating a submission attempt. However, it does mean they can probably turn their head again, which improves their escape opportunities.

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Next, it is a good idea to deal with their far arm. Reach under that far elbow with your arm, coming under the armpit. You have a couple of options here. Option one is linking your hands together with a gable grip and sucking them in towards you, providing a very tight side control. This is how Tran showed it to me several years ago. Option two is gripping around their shoulder, to bring their shoulder off the mat: this is something Dónal likes to do, which isn't surprising as I think I first saw that on a Braulio video. You can also use the elbow of your far arm to squeeze into their far hip. This latter option makes more sense if you're already grabbing by their armpit with your near arm. You want to keep control over their far arm for two reasons: first, they can use it to defend, by getting it into your neck. Second, there are a number of attacks you can do from here.

I also wanted to emphasise chest position. Picture an imaginary line between the middle of their chest and also between yours. You want to bisect those lines: don't be too far over them, or they can easily roll you (if they DO try and roll you and it's working, put your far arm or your forehead out for base). Too far back, and it's easier for them to slip out and escape. Stay low, dropping your hips: don't leave them any space.

Moving on to the legs, there are a bunch of different things you can do. I used to prefer to bring both knees in tight, but I later started sprawling the leg nearer the head backwards, which enables me to bring my hips much lower. This is key: you must keep your hips low in side control. If your knees are in tight, widen them if your hips are still high.

The lower the hips, the more weight on top of them, which therefore gives you better control. However, if you have both legs sprawled back, there is a chance they might be able to bring their knee inside: you need to block it somehow, which would commonly be with the hip nearest their legs, your hand or your knee. Play around and see which position you like, and also be ready to switch depending on your partner's movement. Finally, if you're sprawling your legs back, keep your knees off the ground and stay on your toes. This helps with mobility and driving forward.

Teaching Notes: I've taught this a lot now, might be time to freshen it up by checking out some more vids, see what details other instructors emphasise. I still see hips too high, so I'll continue to highlight that. I didn't talk about the Tran version, which is useful when there are a bunch of beginners.