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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

17 November 2014

17/11/2014 - Teaching | Mount | Maintaining Low Mount

Teaching #234
Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 17/11/2014

This week, I wanted to progress to holding the mount, to provide a platform for attacking as well as giving the flip side to the escapes we've done over the last few weeks. There are two basic types of mount to choose from, which I'll call low and high. Once you've achieved mount, I find that low mount provides the most control. First off, you want to immobilise their hips, as their main method of making space is to bridge up forcefully.

Bring your feet right back, threading them around their legs to establish two hooks: this is known as a grapevine. Alternatively, you can also cross your feet underneath, which has the advantage of making it much harder for them to push your hooks off. Your knees are ideally off the ground, to generate maximum pressure. How far off the ground they are depends on your dimensions: the key is getting loads of hip pressure. Another option, which I learned from Rob Stevens at Gracie Barra Birmingham, is to put the soles of your feet together and then bring your knees right off the floor.

Whichever option you're going for, thrust those hips into them, using your hands for base, where again you have a couple of options. Either have both arms out, or put one under the head (remember, you can always remove it for base if you're really getting thrown hard to that side) while the other goes out wide for base. Try to grip the gi material by their opposite shoulder, or even better, by the opposite armpit. Keep your head on the basing arm side, loading up your weight there. If they're bridging hard, you can switch from side to side.

To do the trap and roll/upa escape we learned a fortnight ago, they will need to get control of your arm. So, don't let them grab it and crush your arm to their side. Instead, swim it through, like Ryron and Rener demonstrate in the third slice of the third lesson in Gracie Combatives. Be sure to do it one at a time, or you may get both arms squashed to your sides.
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Teaching Notes: I tried keeping it super-simple tonight and just teach the basic points on holding the position. That didn't take long, so I think including the arm swim in future wouldn't be to excessive. The other thing to think about, which I've mentioned before, is that many people will have trouble crossing their feet under somebody's bum for control. For me that's generally easy, because I'm short, but I need to look into the other options in more depth.

At the moment, I tend to suggest either Rob Steven's option of feet together and knees off the ground, or hooking back with the legs. Both options aren't too great against somebody experienced enough to have developed some leg dexterity under mount. With your feet crossed under their bum, it's tough for them to dig it out, but that's not true of the other options.

The other obvious point to make is that you want to be moving up into high mount anyway. But I have to admit I will quite often sit in low mount a good while, so it's a useful option to have. Moving up as soon as they start to pry off a hook could be a solution: I'll have a play and see what I can learn.

15 November 2014

15/11/2014 - Artemis BJJ | Open Mat | Open Guard

Class #603
Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 15/11/2014

I spent most of today's open mat helping a couple of students drill technique, which is cool. I always learn from doing that, especially if we then try the technique with a bit more resistance. In terms of the training I wanted to get today, I still really want to improve my open guard. I looked back again at the private lesson Kev taught me on the topic, so I'm going to focus on getting that collar grip and upright position.

Also, I can't let myself get too defensive in open guard. That's why I get passed so often: I'm waiting for them to make a move. You can kind of get away with that when you're in a dominant position like mount or side control, but open guard is more dynamic. I'm also trying to use butterfly guard more often, as that's a useful offensive guard when they are on their knees. The spider variation is worth a go too, but I think mainly when they're on their knees: I've found they have too much movement available in that position when they're stood up. But that's also a matter of familiarity with it.

So, I'll be looking to keep working the open guard at least a bit of every open mat, as it's continued to be the main weakness in my game. My nogi is even worse, as I found when I did a bit of nogi sparring today. Without that collar grip, I end up just clamping on in closed guard. I did eventually go for a sweep from butterfly, but that was against somebody much less experienced. Still, something to keep working on.

13 November 2014

13/11/2014 - Teaching | Mount | Heel Drag

Teaching #233
Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 13/11/2014

The elbow escape is related to my personal favourite mount escape, the heel drag. The heel drag is also quite simple, which is another reason I like it so much. You're in mount, your elbows in a good place for defence, down by their knees. For this escape to work, you need to have one of your legs out flat, just like before. Again, you also need to get on your side: a slight bridging motion will help.

The big danger at this point is that the person on top will switch to technical mount. You therefore need to make sure that your neck is safe if that happens. You also don't want to let them settle into technical mount: immediately prepare your frames to start escaping before they secure the position. You may even be able to disrupt them as they try to shift, using that shift in their base to enter into your escape.

If they don't get to technical mount, or you're able to work back to the previous position, wedge an elbow underneath their knee. You can either make a frame against their hips, or if you're concerned about your neck, adjust so that you can still pry your elbow under their knee while protecting your collar with your hands. As well as chokes, you also need to be wary of their cross-face: if they can control your head, they can flatten you back out, which will make the escape less effective. Use a combination of your elbow and shrimping to shove their knee backwards, on your flat leg side.

Bring your other foot over both your flat leg and the leg they have next to it. That means you can use the heel of that foot to drag their leg over your flat leg. As soon as you get it over, lock half guard and shrimp towards their trapped leg. In half guard, you want to get onto your side as quickly as possible: if you stay flat on your back, you've already done their work for them, as they will want to flatten you out in order to pass half guard. If you're comfortable in half guard, you could stay there and work your attacks.

Alternatively, keep shrimping in the other direction, in order to free your other leg, just like you would with an elbow escape. It's also worth noting that some people, like Roy Dean, recommend just pinching your knees rather than fully triangling your legs around theirs, so that's worth trying too. To help recover full guard, you can also bring your arm across to their opposite shoulder, impeding their movement while aiding yours. Emily Kwok has a handy tip too: if their foot is too flat, making it hard to get your heel in for a drag, shove under their heel with your knee to pry it up and create that space between their foot and the mat.

A very similar escape, which I don't use much, is the foot lift. Dean shows these two escapes in sequence on his awesome Blue Belt Requirements. The foot lift is for when they have some space underneath their in-step. People won't often do that, in my experience, but if they do, this time just step over your flat leg. Use your foot to hook underneath their instep and lift it over, then as before lock up half guard (your legs are already in position), or shrimp to recover full guard.

Make sure that you pay particular attention to shoving on their knee with this variation, as it is easier for them to slip free (though if that happens, you can always switch to the heel drag). With both escapes, it is important to get the knee of their trapped leg back behind your legs. If they still have their knee past your legs, it makes it much easier for them to move straight into a half guard pass, by driving their knee to the mat and sliding through.
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Teaching Notes: Not too much to add here, as this went much the same as when I taught it yesterday. I am probably going to get into a pattern of repeating the Wednesday class at PHNX, depending on who shows up. All my classes are geared towards beginners, but there are certain techniques I want to make sure people don't miss if they are only training at the Kingswood location. So, I generally prioritise one of the two techniques I teach at the central location each week in that sense. A useful thing for me to keep in mind, as it will also show me which techniques I think are core.