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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

02 February 2018

02/02/2018 - Teaching | Closed Guard | Grip & Posture Breaks

Teaching #751
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 02/02/2018

To attack the closed guard, you are generally going to have to break down your opponent's posture first. That begins from your positioning in the closed guard. Bring your hips up into them to take away space, making it harder for them to start opening your guard. Keep your knees up into their armpits if possible, walking your legs up their back when you can. Your legs are much stronger than your arms: make sure you're using both to break their posture.

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If they have managed to get their hands on you, the most basic method of breaking posture is probably pulling their elbows out and then towards you. This is particularly handy if they've got both hands on your hips, or something like that. Using your legs is key here, to help you pull them forwards. If they have one elbow digging back into your leg and you can't pull it back with one hand, reach across with both, then yank that elbow back. This could have the added advantage of enabling you to pull that arm to the other side of your body, very useful for attacking.

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The same applies if they want to stand. Carefully time the right moment, then as soon as you feel their bum rise away from their heels, pull your knees towards your chest. That should knock them back onto the ground. It could also put you in a better position than before, as they may end up falling into you, meaning you can get superior control. Ideally, they'll make the mistake of posting on their hands, as that means you can go for various attacks, like the kimura. As Jason Scully advises, you don't have to just pull straight towards you: twisting can knock them right into an omoplata, or at worst help you to start creating angles.

If you want to maintain closed guard, then you need to stop them setting up their pass. If they try to pass from the knees, the first thing they normally do is put a knee into your tailbone, or somewhere else on your bottom. The easy way to scupper that is to grab onto the gi material by their knee and shift your hips back over to the middle. That can be very frustrating for the person trying to pass, which is good for distracting them and working an opening to attack. On the downside, it can consume a fair bit of energy, as you might find yourself doing it repeatedly if they're really persistent. Another option is a very simple sweep from Henry Akins, where you just pop your hips over to the opposite side and knock them over.

My favourite option builds on the simple posture break, as I like to weave my hands into a shoulder clamp. When you pull them down, reach one hand under the armpit, the other around their head. Lock your hands palm to palm (this is known as a 'gable grip', clamping down on their shoulder. When the time is right, loop your arm over their head, tightening your grip even more firmly by their shoulder. You can now start to angle off, rotating your hips in the direction of that shoulder, bringing your knee up their back to press their head down. This sets you up for pressing armbars, omoplatas, backtakes, etc. Swimming through to an overhook is another option.

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When they have the standard grips from closed guard, with one hand grabbing your collars by your chest and the other back by the hip, the two-on-one grip break is a good one to try. Gather their sleeve in your fist (i.e., a pistol grip), then your other hand goes underneath their arm, grabbing your own wrist. The positioning here matters: you want to get the sleeve grip with your arm on the inside. With that configuration, you can either punch straight up to break their grip, or angle your hips away slightly.

Make sure that you maintain your grip on their sleeve, straightening your arm. You want to push their arm across their body, while simultaneously pulling in with your knees. The intention is to collapse them on top of their arm. Due to the grip configuration, your outside hand can reach around to their far armpit. Hook your fingers in for a solid hold, then twist your elbow in firmly. Combined with your stiff-arming sleeve grip, that should rotate their torso and make it hard for them to turn back towards you. You can now shrimp slightly away from them, keeping your bottom foot in tight to act as your first hook.

Shrimping away may be enough to drop them into back control. If not, use the heel of your top foot to dig into their hip, spinning them into back control. You can also use that same grip break to move into the overhook guard. Pull the sleeve behind your hand, bring your elbow from inside to outside. Reach through for their opposite collar and lock in your elbow, then you have lots of attacks from that overhook guard (overhook choke, triangle, sweep, pressing armbar, etc).

Another option, which I made up a while ago but I am sure I'm not the first to use it, is to bend that arm in a different way. Grab their collar, then weave your same side arm inside, aiming to bend their elbow. You can then switch directly into a shoulder clamp.

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Teaching Notes: Pretty straightforward. The one I added where it's my thing is the most confusing, as people don't expect to be reaching on the inside with their same side arm, something to emphasise. Just need to review the videos when I next teach it, I'm happy with this lesson. :)

31 January 2018

31/01/2018 - Teaching | Half Guard | Adamson Knee Shield Pass

Teaching #750
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 31/01/2018

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Nathan Adamson showed me a few tweaks to the knee shield pass when I took a private lesson with him at the 2016 BJJ Globetrotter Camp in Leuven. Mainly that was in the grips, particularly his initial grip, low on the knee-shielding leg. Grab right down near the bottom of the trouser leg, knuckles down. Your other hand grips their same side collar, while you also have your free leg up and based out. From this strong base, straighten out your trouser gripping arm, until it is straight. To do that, you will probably angle your torso away from the leg: make sure you stay low as you do that. From there, you do a big twist, whacking your outside hip right into their stomach. That puts you into a standard hip switch pass position.

From here, ideally you want to apply a heavy cross-face: this will make the pass much easier. Without a solid cross face, they will be able to turn towards you, perhaps even getting a reversal. Having said that, the arm gripping their collar should already be acting as a cross-face, keeping it straight so the 'bar' of your arm prevents them turning towards you.

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You will also need to be careful of your weight distribution. If you are leaning too far over their body, they can roll you over the top. If you aren't on the sides of your feet pushing into them, they could roll you backwards. You are effectively sitting down next to them, while still staying tight and pressing your weight into them. If they manage to get an underhook, you'll still need to be wary of getting rolled over: hooking an arm by their leg should block it.

To complete the pass, it will help to insert your bottom shin onto their bottom thigh. Shift back slightly, in order to make some space in front of their bottom leg. Do not raise up: that will give them space to bring their leg in for defence, perhaps even start their escape. Using either your knee or your shin, wedge that against their lower leg leg. Change your trouser grip from their shin to by their knee, then yank it towards you. This should open up enough space to free your leg. Ideally you also want to keep your head low and turned towards their legs, to make it harder for them to push into your throat.

Teaching Notes: Getting that angle with the knee and pushing backwards, people are easily confused on that one as it's different to the usual knee cut. The grip can be tricky as well, especially on the first one. The second, more dynamic option is useful as a fall back. Keep in mind this is a more complex one, this is best for if we ever do a lot of knee shield stuff.

29 January 2018

29/01/2018 - Teaching | Half Guard | Pressure Pass

Teaching #749
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 29/01/2018

On top of half guard, your opening goal is to get them flat on the mat: there are passes you can do while they are on their side, but generally speaking it is much easier if their back is pinned to the floor. A simple method, drawing on the Ribeiro brothers, is to drive your free knee into their hip, block their head with your same side arm, then step your trapped leg up and away from you. Having generated some space, drive the trapped knee forwards as your return it to the mat, which should also help you drive your opponent to the mat as well.

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If you are able to get the cross-face and an underhook, there is now the option of generating lots of shoulder pressure. This is the simplest way I've learned to pass the half guard: both Saulo and his brother refer to this as the 'esgrima pass', but I call it the shoulder pressure pass in the interests of clarity. Cross-face their head (if you can't get the cross-face, you can also use your own head), so that they can't turn in that direction. Put your own head on the other side (or your arm, if you're already using your head to cross-face), locking their head into place: your shoulder and head work together to form a vice. Combined with your underhook, it should now become hard for them to move their upper body, because their head is stuck.

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From here, come up on your feet so that all your weight is driving through your shoulder. Even if you're small, this should maximise your weight. I'm only 66kgs, but if I can get all of that weight against somebody's head, it becomes more significant. From there, bounce your trapped knee to wriggle it free (if you're having trouble and need additional leverage, rotate your free leg back to hook their leg with your instep). As soon as it is clear of their legs, twist in the direction of your cross-facing arm and put that knee on the mat. You can then kick their leg off your foot: some people prefer to kick the top leg, but I would generally go for the bottom leg. Turning your hips to the ceiling can also help if you're struggling to get that foot loose.

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Teaching Notes: I think people were bringing their head a bit too high, meaning they were asking about guillotines (though I don't think that is a major risk in half guard anyway). Head/shoulder shoulder be in solar plexus pinning them, meaning that they aren't able to reach a proper guillotine if you've got that pressure dialled in. Still, that's something to think about when prepping this class.

Don't forget to double check the Saulo follow he shows on BJJ Library, particularly the point where you flick you leg over. I'll also need to update the text above if I'm going to make Saulo's follow up a regular part of this lesson (where he adjusts to get a cross face and then drives through to mount).