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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 ©2004-2015 Can Sönmez

26 July 2015

26/07/2015 - Open Mat | Sit Up Escape

Class #655
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 26/07/2015

I'm still taking it easy to give my finger joint a chance to recover from whatever I did to it earlier this week. That meant I was mostly answering questions and helping people drill. However, I did get in some light sparring at the end with Rafal, along with drilling some of the material from Jeff Rockwell's recent sit up escape instructional. It builds on the Defensive Guard stuff I've been incorporating into my game for a year or two now, particularly the collar tie position.

Koala guard remains an interesting option from open guard, though I haven't yet been able to combine the distance together well. I'll keep testing out the entry point, as I think I'm jumping into it too early. That guillotine remains a risk, though I'm being more careful to keep my head in tight. My back escapes still need lots of work, as I'm continuing to chase as they try to bring in their second hook. Triangles are a risk from the underhook too: I normally feel ok with those and make certain to keep the elbow well back, but I was lazy today and got stuck inside. If he'd switched legs, I reckon he could have finished it (as I demonstrated afterwards).

24 July 2015

24/07/2015 - Teaching | Open Guard | Loop Choke

Teaching #361
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 24/07/2015


From sitting guard, pull down with your collar grip. Break their posture by pulling that collar towards you, while also pushing their head down and to the side with your other hand. You're tucking their head towards your armpit. Raise your collar gripping elbow, creating a window to insert your other hand. Slide your other hand across the back of their head and under your collar gripping elbow. You're looking to hook your elbow with the back of your pushing hand, pointing your fingers up in order to lock it in place. To finish, lift the elbow of the collar gripping hand while dropping the elbow of the other hand.

It also helps if you can get your collar-gripping side leg into the bicep of their same side arm, or even better over the top, putting you into a sort of half-closed guard around their back. Here's my first ever instructor Oli Geddes showing the technique from half guard:


Oli mentioned when he taught it in a class a few years back that this choke is sufficiently versatile to function from various positions. For example, butterfly guard, half guard and also when they're trying to establish double underhooks on your legs in order to pass. Even if you don't get the choke, you're likely to still manage a sweep, as in order to avoid getting submitted they'll probably have to roll out. You can simply follow them and end up in mount.
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Teaching Notes: For emphasis next time, first point to note is getting your grip in the right place, so you're not thrusting into their windpipe. Also, exactly where to tuck their head: some people were pushing too far, others not far enough. Also, I should add that it's ok if you end up sweeping them instead. Obviously it's nice to get the choke, but if you get a sweep, that's cool too.

Limited sparring for me as I jacked something in my finger on Wednesday. It meant I could try and practice grips with other hand a bit, then stuck to answering questions in open mat afterwards. Most people stayed for the open mat upstairs, meaning it was busy this Friday. :)

22 July 2015

22/07/2015 - Teaching | Open Guard | Collar Drag

Teaching #360
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 22/07/2015

Tonight we went with a straightforward technique commonly known as a collar drag. Again, you can do this from several open guard positions (butterfly, for example), but this month we're looking at sitting guard. Start in your sitting guard, where you are basing behind with your arm. Generally, you want to make sure that arm is behind you, as if you've got it to the side, they can grab it and drive forward to pass.

However, there are exceptions to that rule, such as when you want to collar drag. In sitting guard, a good time to do this is when they try to pass around the outside of your raised knee. Use your basing arm to help you shift off to the side, away from your collar gripping arm and towards the open side into which they're moving. Posting on your free arm, shift your hips away. You are then going to pull your partner into the space you've just vacated, using their collar. Bring the elbow of your pulling arm to the mat.

Be careful of dragging them too hard and too far, or they can simply scamper round, putting you back to square one. After a successful collar drag, you will normally already have a leg close enough to hook inside their leg and start taking their back. That means it is easier to reach around to grasp their lat, then swing your leg over to begin establishing back control. Make sure you get a seat belt grip (one arm over the shoulder, the other under the armpit), or they may be able to simply shrug you off. It may turn into a sweep instead, depending how they land from the collar drag: keep control of their leg and drive, staying tight.
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Teaching & Sparring Notes: I mentioned doing this when they move to the side, but I think that's confusing people. Next time, I'll show how to do it when they don't move to the side, then I can mention that if they do move to the side, they are putting themselves in the position to be dragged already so you can move less. A few people weren't sure about putting that hook in: it would be good to put a back drill in the warm-up to make it clear.

The warm-up has changed a little, as I've continued combining the drills into a progression. So, started with knee cut, then side control to mount, then mount to tech mount. When I teach this again, need to make sure the tech mount to back drill is in there, so especially newer people can feel what back mount is like.

In sparring, I was looking for the ankle pick and tripod, along with the unstoppable sweep. Koala guard if it popped up, but I'm not having too much luck entering into that. Jammed my finger during one of the spars, so took it easy at the end with a beginner, giving them a chance to work. If the finger is still messed up by Friday, that will mean I have a chance to practice different grips, working the underhook with my right hand. It will be interesting to see how applicable that is to open guard.

I ended up in a weird position with Matt, wrapped around his leg upside down. Eventually I rolled him over, but there was no technique involved, just random scrambling. At least I got in close. Hopefully that will lend itself to something more productive, like improving my entries into koala guard. Inverted koala guard, not so useful. :P

22/07/2015 - Teaching | Women's Class | Escaping the Back

Teaching #359
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 22/07/2015

Tonight I went with the scoop. As with any escape, you need to stay tight. Keep your elbows in, using your hands to cover your neck. 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.

My preference is that last option, though 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. 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 mentioned that I don't like the scoop escape, but I think the class got something out of it. Mainly it connects to deep half, I think. I ran through the more orthodox escape too. I said this before, but I'd like to go with the 'pull the arm' over escape, as that's higher percentage than the scoop (because you are pretty much never in a position where somebody has taken your back but not secured a grip with their arms).

On the standard back escape, people were having some trouble stiff arming into the leg, which happens a lot. I therefore suggesting turning to top half instead if they are having difficulty, like Donal did back when he showed me this (I prefer going to side control, as that feels much more secure, but top half is a good second option if you can't get the cross-face).

22/07/2015 - Open Mat | Chris Drilling | Guard Retention

Class #654
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 22/07/2015

Handily, Chris wanted to work on his guard passing while I was looking to practice guard retention. Perfect combination. We started off playing with some videos Andrew Smith put up on one of his Revolution BJJ articles (you may have seen those pop up if you're on Facebook and frequent BJJ groups, he shares them frequently). The videos included were simple and easy to understand.

Chris and I both particularly liked the option of trapping their wrists in the crook of your elbows if they grabbed your trousers, breaking the grip by moving your legs, then sweeping them. When you wrap up the wrists like that and put your hands together, it's a surprisingly strong grip. Almost felt like a wristlock.

I had Chris run through his passing a few times without much resistance, aiming to help him combine his passes. The first point is to add changes of direction, then try and see which passes fit together well. I find that the single underhook often becomes viable once you've driven in close, something I often finish with. Once you have that grip and manage to add lots of pressure, it's tough to stop.

With the knee cut, that reminded me of several techniques I've watched recently about turning the position into a sweep, from videos by Mackenzie Dern over on BJJ Library, Ryan Hall's Defensive Guard and Jason Scully over at Grapplers Guide. The part I remembered was lifting the trouser leg, then putting your shin against the shin of their cutting leg. You can then lift and go for a sweep, or at least make enough space to stuff the pass. Hall recommends bringing your foot back in order to press into their hip, re-establishing the 'defensive wall' he discusses at length in his DVD series. Works pretty well, though I do worry about potentially messing up my leg if it gets squished at an awkward angle. I'm comparatively flexible, but I don't want to ever rely on that, especially as I've had that recurring groin injury.

Chris took a long video on his laptop: I look forward to watching that, as it should jog my memory about a number of the other techniques we played with. It's really helpful to film training, the hard bit tends to be doing something with the video afterwards. ;)