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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 ©2004-2014 Can Sönmez

21 July 2014

21/07/2014 - Teaching | Open Guard | Bullfighter Pass

Teaching #168
Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 21/07/2014

Quick announcement before I start: the FREE women's class starts next week on Wednesday, 18:30-19:30 at Bristol Sports Centre! Hooray! Full details here. :D

To pass the open guard, it is advisable to grip on the inside of both their knees for control (though not everyone would agree on that: others suggest gripping lower on the trousers by their shin, knuckles facing forward, or even at the bottom of the trousers). The main danger is that they will try to loop their leg over your arm, which you can mitigate by gripping a little lower than the knee. If their legs are raised, twist your elbows in, so that your forearms are parallel to their lower legs. Be sure to keep your elbows inside their knees: if they do manage to loop an arm, you may need to release and then regrip back inside their knee.

That means you can then start to move their legs in several directions. There are many variations of the bullfighter pass (also called the toreador, toreana, toreada, toreando and matador, among other names. Google tells me the Portuguese for bullfighter is in fact 'toureiro'), but I think the simplest is to step back when you have that grip, so that the soles of their feet press into the floor. Straighten your arms and lean through them, so that all your weight is punching downwards towards the mat.

The aim is to prevent them being able to move their legs, so that you can now walk around before they are able to recover. As soon as you get past their knees, drop your leading shoulder into their hip, falling forward. Maintain at least one grip on their leg, as otherwise they may be able to start to recover by getting a leg in the way. Your next priority is to block their hips, so release one grip in order to bring an elbow around their far hip. Drive your near knee into their near hip, then move up into side control.


Teaching Notes: I think this is probably the simplest version to teach, but there are a lot of variations to choose from. I was aiming to pick something that was easy to pick up, which people could then hopefully build on, based on their own game. The more difficult choice will be what variation to add on Wednesday: I have one in mind, but I'll be checking through my notes again to see if that follows on best. I need something that shows a different way of using the bullfighter pass, so people can see different principles.

It was good to see that people were getting the idea and successfully using the pass in sparring. Also great that people were managing to switch between the bullfighter and the knee cut we did last week. :)

I found when drilling this in progressive resistance (as it was odd numbers) that the option of driving one leg to the floor and moving around worked a few times, as did shifting directions. Combining it with the knee cut can work too, though I wasn't doing that all that well myself. I think I'm probably going to go with the option of pushing forwards into them to get them to kick back, then redirecting their legs to pass. Even that has a bunch of variations, so again I'll need to think what the best option is. I'm looking forward to exploring it some more on Wednesday. :)

17 July 2014

17/07/2014 - Artemis BJJ | de la Riva Guard |

Class #580
Artemis BJJ (Impact Gym), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK -17/07/2014

Dónal announced we were having flying lessons, which meant some flashy sweeps on the horizon. He started off with a drill to help work on our ability to balance somebody's weight on our legs. Feet on their hips, grabbing both sleeves, then lifting them up into the air, like you would with a small child.

That progressed to a de la Riva sweep. Starting from the de la Riva, you again lift them into the air, pulling on their sleeve. This time, you've only got one sleeve, as your other hand is grabbing the heel, in order to secure your de la Riva hook. They are probably going to pull back on the sleeve, whereupon you switch to grabbing high on their collar. Pull your arm right back, flaring the elbow, then lifting slightly with your legs, flip them over and roll into mount. Not a high percentage option, but fun if you can land it. :)

Today was, for the UK at least, hot. That was exacerbated by the gym itself: Impact gets really hot, as it's in an old warehouse with a glass roof. As a result, I was completely exhausted after training. Sparring wasn't especially intense and the warm-up wasn't too bad, it was just the heat and dehydration. I normally have a very passive style of rolling, but coupled with that exhaustion, I was about as active as a dead fish.

Rolling against someone who didn't have a gi, that took away my safety grips. I therefore spent the roll flopping around underneath without being able to get much control, until eventually I made a mistake when I somehow got on top and started to pass. I was going for a stack pass, but made the basic error of leaving an arm in without pulling the elbow back. That put me right in a triangle: as I tried to pop out, the armbar was right there. No gi is bad enough when I can move, but in the heat I was completely incapable of doing anything.

The other two rolls were against people with a gi, so I was able to clamp on to a collar and stall (I did get mount at one point, where again you can just lie on them without having to move all that much). I attempted to kick out their leg and sweep once or twice, either in an elevator or scissor style, but I'm forgetting to pull them up into me first. That was about the most attacking move I managed all day.

Despite guzzling a big bottle of water, I still felt destroyed at the end of class. Almost certainly the slowest cycle home I've ever done. If this is what I'm like after a mere British hot day, then clearly I shouldn't even consider training in Brazil! ;)

16 July 2014

16/07/2014 - Teaching | Open Guard | Knee Cut

Teaching #167
Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 16/07/2014

With the knee cut pass, the basic idea is to step between their legs in open guard, with one leg on the outside. Of course, most people aren't going to just let you cut across their leg, so you'll need to get into a solid position to do it. A while back, Dónal showed me a good option for this, which he in turn learned from his instructor.

First off, you want to get a good grip on their legs, to limit their mobility: grabbing the material by their knees tends to be a good option. Next, you want a grip on their collar. If you simply reach for it, you're asking to get triangled. So, being careful to keep your elbows inside their legs, drive your leg forwards into theirs. Keep driving forward until you can safely grip high on their same side collar, pulling them back towards you as much as possible. You want to curl their body, so their shoulders are off the ground. This makes it much harder for them to sweep you.

Drop into a relatively low crouch, legs apart for base. They will probably have a foot on your hip at this point: if they do, your grip with be on the trouser material by their shin. Turn your leg inwards slightly, pressing into their foot. With the grip you have on their trousers, shove their leg down, swinging your own leg backwards, then stepping over their leg. The grip you have on their trousers is important here: you're going to roll your knuckles down so that they are pressing into the shin, straightening your arm. This provides a firm control.

Next, you're going to cut across their thigh (still on the leg you just stuffed with your grip), using your opposite knee. As you do, also be sure to yank them towards that side with your collar grip, again to prevent sweeps. Drop in low, trying to secure an underhook, also keeping your head in tight. To get the underhook, put your elbow on their side, then circle your arm around, rather than diving straight for the underhook. You can also just maintain your grip on their collar.

Either way, it is essential that you have your elbow inside. You don't want them to either be able to bring their arm inside for an underhook, or insert their knee in front of you. If they can manage the knee or the underhook, the pass isn't impossible, but it makes it a lot more difficult to finish.

When you've pinned their leg with your shin, you can switch your grip from their leg to their arm (or even better, just below their elbow) and pull up. To further establish control, you could try shoving your head next to theirs, like in the picture on the right. To finish, you'll slide through over their thigh. To secure your position, walk your hips back before you settle (there is a good Mendes brothers video on this), getting your hips underneath them to shove their legs out of the way. That's when you can then solidify your side control.

Teaching Notes: I've taught the knee cut before, when I split it into a basic and then a more detailed version. I wanted to try and condense that into one class this time, refining it to the most important details. There are three key details to emphasise: your initial grip, cutting your knee across and establishing control of the upper body.

I'm not sure I condensed it all that well: it still felt like there were a lot of details, rather than concise summary of key points I was aiming for. Then again, I don't think I was going over the top with details like I sometimes have in the past: either way, I'd like to refine the structure next time. It was especially cool to see a lot of people using the knee cut later in sparring, which hopefully indicates those details were useful. :)