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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

22 April 2015

22/04/2015 - Teaching | Mount | Americana

Teaching #313
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 22/04/2015

To begin the americana, grab their wrist with your opposite hand. Grasp their elbow with your other hand. Keeping both of your arms straight, lean diagonally forwards, using your weight to drive their arm to the ground (as per the picture, you can also follow Cindy Omatsu's example and use your head to add further leverage). The elbow of your wrist-gripping arm goes next to their head. Remove the grip you have on their elbow, then with your palm facing up, slip that hand underneath their elbow. As it slips under, turn your hand so the palm faces down.

With the hand you just slipped under, grab your other wrist. This means you now have a 'figure-four' on their arm, a solid grip. To complete the submission, keep your head down and lift their elbow, pushing their knuckles back in a straight line along the ground, like a paintbrush. You want to move their knuckles, rather than pulling their elbow down as well: that goes up (but only slightly), their knuckles go back. Also, keep the knuckles in contact with the mat.

You can also vary your angle, which will affect how far you have to push their knuckles. For example, Saulo Ribeiro teaches sucking the trapped arm in to their body, then lifting the elbow. His angle is such that he doesn't need to paint the hand back at all. It will also vary depending on the flexibility of your training partner's shoulder. Finally, you can try twisting your fists downwards, like you were revving a motorbike. That should further increase your leverage.

I also went through the variation I like from super high-mount. If you keep going up, until you are right by their head, you can squeeze your knees by their arms. That should hopefully mean they have an arm completely stuck, poking out vulnerably from your legs. Simply put on a figure four and bend that arm against your leg for the submission. Be sure to use the turn of your body, rather than purely your arms: you'll get more leverage that way.
Teaching Notes: Getting that arm in tight, might need to mention more. Also, I could talk about the under the head thing, locking that in then looping your arm around. That can happen quite often once people are looking for the americana, though it only came up today with one person (a cool visiting blue belt from SBG Penzance, Matt). But next time, I think I'll split this into two separate americana lessons: the basic one, with the orthodox application and potentially that under the head detail, then another class that covers the americana from super high mount into a back take. I'll test out the second lesson tomorrow, to start working out what to include.

People frequently raise their elbow too high when they begin with the americana. That's something I'd like to iron out in my teaching: it could be that's an instinctive thing that's always going to happen, or perhaps I'm not emphasising some element in my teaching. There are always at least a couple of people who try and apply it by sticking the elbow really high instead of the 'paintbrush' method with the knuckles. I'll see if I can change something up next time and then count how many people end up with the high elbow thing (though I guess it is possible to submit somebody that way, but not very efficient, at least in my experience so far).

22/04/2015 - Teaching | Women's Class | Ankle Grab Sweep

Teaching #312
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 22/04/2015

The situation for this is that they have stood up in your closed guard. As they stand up, if you've got a grip on their collar or head, maintain it in order to keep their posture bent forwards. At the moment you let go of that grip (if you have one) and they try to reach an upright position, grab behind their ankles (around the outside: if you grab around the inside, there's an injury risk).

Open your guard (when they stand, they are looking to open it and pass. It's better if when you open your guard, it's on your terms rather than theirs), bringing your knees together under their chest. You can also put your feet on their hips, depending on their height and how much leverage you need. Either way, drive those feet or knees into them. That should knock them over if they aren't prepared for the sweep.

Before they can react, come up on your hand and same side knee, then bring your hips forward on that same side. It's important you don't try to move straight forward: your direction must be diagonal. Slide your knee on that side to the mat, keeping your hips low, also grabbing their head. From there, you could go to mount, s-mount, side control etc. It is an awkward position, so takes a bit of getting used to. I used a hip thrust drill during the warm-up to help: you can do a technical stand-up from here too if you find that easier, keeping hold of their leg and passing around to the side.

Teaching Notes: I forgot to emphasise grabbing behind the head to help pull yourself up, must do that next time (though Summer was doing it instinctively, which was cool). Also, on the technical stand-up version, staying tight, driving forward and really pulling up high on the leg. I included both versions, which this time seemed to make more sense to the students. They had trouble with the technical stand up last time (a few months back), but this time round I think it may have made more sense than the hip thrust, as that can be a bit awkward (though the head grab helps). So, worth keeping in both versions for the moment.

22/04/2015 - Open Mat | Mount Escapes & Armbars

Class #639
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 22/04/2015

It's been a while since Chris and I have managed to get together for drilling and sparring on a Monday or Wednesday. I always get a lot out of it when we both have time and today was no exception. Things were bolstered by taking some video, as I'm keen to try and isolate where I'm having issues with both escaping and attacking mount. We did specific sparring, taking it in turns to defend and then attack from mount.

My camera placement wasn't great as it often went out of shot, but there were enough sustained bits of footage that I could see I was bridging far too much. Especially the first round under mount, I was bouncing a lot and moving down the mat. Repeatedly I was knocking Chris forward so he needed to base with his hand, but not really manipulating his weight distribution. I need to think more strategically about those bumps, capitalising on the shift in weight.

A useful point on that which Chris mentioned was that I was mostly bridging straight up, rather than an angled bridge. The straight up bridge is best suited for dislodging submission attempts, so I wasn't really using it efficiently. When I did angle my bridge, I was doing it to the side where Chris either already had his weight (so was tough to budge) or was able to put out a hand (thereby blocking any roll).

When I did escape, it was often due to Chris giving me some space by his leg, as he tried to transition into an attacking position. I could then get a leg under and start to lift. I want to be thinking more about angling my bridge, getting a sense of his weight distribution and doing a better job of controlling an arm when I do manage to get the timing of the bridge right.

My stamina is poor, so too much bridging is going to tire me out fast. I could have a go at thinking about my breathing, something I rarely bother taking into account. It's something Rickson and others talk about all the time and has in the past felt a bit gimmicky and New Agey to me, but perhaps I should give it a chance. Couldn't hurt, and if it does help balance my crap stamina, that would be cool. I know I'm never going to bother hitting the gym to do cardio or whatever, that's far too boring). ;)

On top I was a lot better at conserving my energy, but then it's much easier to do that on top. I did leave my lower leg in range to be grabbed a number of times (Chris was tending to clamp it between his feet in a sort of quarter guard), so I should do a better job of tucking that out of the way and quickly moving up into a higher mount. I was generally able to get to high mount: the first time Chris popped out the back, timing it nicely. I was caught by surprise, over-focusing on getting really really high in mount.

The next few times, I was able to get into a decent attacking position. I went for the choke, but couldn't get the second hand in place. I also tried that gi lapel variation on the ezequiel, but couldn't quite get the leverage. Still, the gi tail grip was fun, and eventually helped me move into an armbar. On finishing that, I landed it once, helped by controlling the head by twisting out my leg. However, the next time I got into position, Chris was able to escape because my second leg wasn't tight enough. I was focusing so much on keeping the head leg tight that I forgot about the importance of the second leg being tight too, up into the armpit.

Lots to play with. I'll keep on taking footage of these mini-open mats, but I'll need to work out the best place to put my camera next time. :)

20 April 2015

20/04/2015 - Teaching | Mount | Cross Choke

Teaching #311
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 20/04/2015

Starting from high mount, keep low, your arm based out, putting your head on the same side to concentrate your weight. Remember to keep your feet tucked under their bum for control. Drive your first grip in, which normally is going to be blocked by their arms crossed over their chest. To work past that, Roger advises that you pull open their collar low on their lapel (or at least lower than their elbows. You don't want to get stuck trying to yank out the collar from directly underneath their tightly crossed arms). You can then slide your arm through. To make that extra-solid, Roger Gracie told me to brace your own elbow against your hip. You can then wriggle forwards, driving your arm in front of you with the combined power of your hips, legs and arm. Also form your hand into a wedge, as this will help cut past their blocking arms.

Either way, once you have the grip, lift them up towards you slightly, twisting your hand so that you create a small gap between their neck and collar. Into that gap, insert the thumb of your free hand, to establish your second grip. You can also drop your elbow to the other side, so that you're pressuring into their neck.

Slide that thumb behind their head to the other side of their neck. As you do, also move your head to the other side of their head. Next, bring the arm of your thumb grip to the other side of their head, 'shaving' close to their face. This is to set up the choke, putting your wrists on both sides of their neck.

Once you've got the thumb arm into position, so that both carotid arteries are blocked off, move your forehead to the floor directly above their head. Twist your wrists and drop your weight into them to finish the choke. Roy Dean provides a handy pointer here, which is to shift your hips forward slightly, still basing on your head. That will give you a little extra leverage, should you need it.

I focused on my preferred cross choke variation from Michel Verhoeven. After you've inserted your first hand, start to raise your partner towards you slightly. Bring your second arm around to the other side of their head, then 'shave' back across their face to position that arm by their neck. Grab a handful of gi by their shoulder, then drop your elbow so your forearm is over their throat. This second arm doesn't move after that point: the choke comes from twisting the first hand and drawing that first elbow back.

Teaching Notes: Pushing past that defending hand was a slight problem for a few people, though it seemed that eventually everyone could get through. However, I'm not sure if that is merely a matter of force, or something more refined. Hopefully it comes down to leverage rather than brute strength: I was advising people to bring their whole body to bear, rather than just shoving with their hand. Instead, having braced their elbow against their hip (like Roger says), they should also be driving with their hips, feet, legs and using their body weight to get that hand into position.

18 April 2015

18/04/2015 - Private

Teaching #310 - Private #004
Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 18/04/2015

I got to catch up with a training partner right after open mat, as Gina popped down for a private lesson (she also made it to the GrappleThon last month). She's been busy preparing herself for the Grappler's Heart tournament over in the States, coming up soon on the 25th April. Before she headed off, she asked me if we could work on some butterfly guard. Preparing the lesson, I had a few passes to show her, along with some variations on the typical butterfly sweep. It's always cool training with Gina, especially from an instruction perspective. She has a rare condition called dystonia: among other challenges, that means that techniques relying on a lot of foot and toe strength are problematic.

I focused on three techniques from butterfly guard (as per previous write-ups), the shin trap and knee forward passes, then the butterfly sweep grip variation. For the shin trap, I normally recommended sprawling back and walking round on your toes, but for Gina we tried moving more on the knees instead, or indeed shifting into a knee slide pass. That grip where you reach underneath and lock their trapped foot in with your hand should prove especially useful there, as that further prevents them wriggling their leg into some kind of half guard.

For the sweep, I went with that grip variation I learned from the Carlos Machado Unstoppable DVD, which I refer to as a shoulder clamp. One arm goes under their armpit, the other around their head, locking hands and pulling in tight by the shoulder. You can then use the armpit arm to add extra leverage to your butterfly lift with your same side leg.

Should they free their head from your arm, or if you end up with your arm under their head, you can then use your elbow for leverage, bringing it into their neck and jaw. Shift to your other leg and use that for the butterfly sweep instead. As Gina has strong arms and shoulders, that should hopefully work well for her.

Good luck to Gina at Grappler's Heart on the 25th!

18/04/2015 - Open Mat

Class #638
Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 18/04/2015

I went through what I did over the week with Tracey, to recap some of the classes she wasn't able to attend. I also had a play with some gi chokes, which highlighted that on my favoured one from side control, I shouldn't pull it too tight or it can make it difficult to get the arm across their neck. Armbars from scarf hold were something I covered with Steve a while ago, so I went through that again for those who hadn't seen it before.

Also, with the armbar I've been teaching this week from s-mount, I practiced grabbing my ankle, which felt easier this time. Possibly I got more rotation in my body so it was more secure? Either way, that isn't something I talked about much for the armbar, so I should think about it next time I teach the armbar.

I was able to get in some sparring too, with Steve. It proved useful, as I think my mount escapes have gotten sloppy: although Steve is big, I should still have been able to generate more space and been more wary of my back getting controlled. When I do escape from the mount, I have this frustrating habit of ended up chasing the legs: the same thing happened with Matt earlier this week. I'm keen to get more video of myself sparring so I can analyse it: that's something I want to start doing when I get the chance. I'll see if a low quality vid from a propped up phone is good enough, but I might need to look into tripods if that doesn't work.

From turtle I wasn't getting much in the way of escapes either. I repeatedly went for his arm, to try and lock that and roll them over. It could have been the size difference, but either way that wasn't getting anywhere. I should have moved on to some other turtle escapes, like the 'wing' stuff I went through a few months ago when we focused on the turtle for a month. It would be worth bringing in turtle next time I do a month on the back (next month is side control).