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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

26 July 2014

26/07/2014 - FREE Women's Class Starts Next Week! | Open Mat | Cross Grip Guard | Ankle Pick & Collar Drag

Class #582
Artemis BJJ (Impact Gym), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 26/07/2014

The FREE women's class starts next week on Wednesday! So, I'll put up the poster on this post. If anybody wants to share that around (hey, you never know), feel free: after all it's a free class. I've stuck up a few of these posters around town, so will be looking for other places to put them. As the class has funding until the end of the year, that gives me lots of time to build it up. Hooray! All women welcome! Lots more info on this exciting new Bristol BJJ class here. :D

As usual, I had a specific goal in mind for the open mat today, drilling the technique I wanted to teach next week in order to work out any kinks. The only downside of open mat at the moment is that because it directly follows the nogi class, the majority of class tends not to have a gi on (especially in the current hot weather). Fortunately for me, there were two others with a gi, so I had someone to drill with after they finished rolling.

I was looking at two techniques from cross grip guard (I don't know how popular that term is: I'm going off BJJ Library and Jiu Jitsu University. In other words, open guard where you have grabbed the opposite collar). I frequently get into this position in open guard, both because I always go for the tripod/sickle sweep combination and due to Kev's recommendation from that private lesson. Building on what I learned from Kev, I've also been looking at a couple of videos Xande did on BJJ Library, where he goes into considerable detail on the cross grip guard and attacks from it.

First off, keep your basing hand behind you where you can't see it. The only time it should be in view, according to Xande, is when you are shifting off to the side for a collar drag, pulling them by the collar into the space you just vacated. You can then take their back. From the same grip, you can go for the tripod and sickle combination. To enter into the guard, grab their same side collar while putting your opposite foot on their opposite hip. Open up the collar and switch to your other hand. If you're greedy and start off with the cross-grip, that may leave you vulnerable to getting passed, according to Xande.

You can also go for the ankle pick sweep I learned from Kev last year, where again Xande has a bunch of tips. If they begin to stand up when you have the cross grip guard, follow them up into a sort of combat base position, grab their leg, then use your collar grip to direct them to the mat as you pull back on their leg. You can grab the heel/ankle for an ankle pick type takedown (hence the sweep name, which Xande also calls the 'get up' sweep), or the material somewhere on their trouser leg (e.g., by their knee).

Xande emphasises that the leverage doesn't come from trying to muscle them to the ground. It comes from your action of standing up. So, concentrate on getting the grips and then getting up, rather than getting the grips and driving forward before you've stood up. Xande also notes that you want to be careful of your momentum, as it's easy to fall forwards if you aren't careful of posture. Lean back slightly instead as you knock them down, getting into a secure guard passing posture, then do a knee cut. Your knee should already be forward and in place, making this straightforward.

It was very useful drilling that with the two blue belts in gis, as that helped me practice my teaching and indeed modified my intended structure. I had thought to start off with some technical stand up drills, but actually the hip thrust may be more useful. By telling them it was like a technical stand up, that just confused one of them, whereas he found the hip thrust made much more sense. That may well vary by person, but it's extremely useful to know that the technical stand up might confuse some people in the context of this technique. I may still put it in the warm-up, but I'll now be considering how to contextualise it more carefully.

24 July 2014

24/07/2014 - Artemis BJJ | Open Guard | Maintaining

Class #581
Artemis BJJ (Impact Gym), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 24/07/2014

Useful drilling tonight, which gave me something I could add to my maintaining open guard drilling sequences. I normally have them pass, you bring your outside leg over to hook and recover, then with a shrimp, then with either a spin or a running escape. Dónal has another step I can now add, bringing that outside foot all the way over to the opposite hip to push against it. Flare the knee up to make it harder for them to push it down and backstep pass the other way, also hooking the outside of their nearest leg with your other foot to further prevent that backstep.

That was the technique for tonight, with the rest of class dedicated to sparring. As I mentioned last week, it has been super hot (for the UK) this summer, just like last year. I therefore prepared carefully this time, bringing my lightest, most breathable gi (the Gimono) and not wearing my usual spats (I missed the compression, but it was worth it for less heat). I also made a point of conserving my energy in sparring, so no techniques that required lots of running around or straining.

In specific sparring, I was surprised at how effective that bullfighter pass I've been teaching this week proved to be. Essentially just the principle of dropping your shoulder into their hips as soon as you are past their knees meant I was able to pass almost every time, very unusual for me even when it's white and blue belts. It was also low energy: with my usual knee cut, that can take a bit more shoving and pushing. With the bullfighter, I just dropped and flopped, using my hips to shove their knee further out of the way if they were trying to block.

Having said that, against more experienced opponents this would of course be less effective. Everybody was defending the bullfighter by trying to stiff arm me as I passed, but they weren't engaging their legs and hips. That meant I could take my time, control their far hip with my arm (I wasn't bringing my knee into the near hip every time though, so need to remember that), moving comfortably into side control. If they had managed to shrimp away before I could do that, it would have been much tougher. The one time I varied it up with a knee cut, I also got swept right away because I was being lazy and not pressuring down enough, or getting an underhook.

In free sparring I was similarly lazy: I just went to closed guard and locked it up. Rather than looping their head with my arm, I relied on a deep collar grip. As a result, I didn't have any soreness in my bicep and I wasn't all that tired afterwards. I also wasn't doing a whole lot though, so it wasn't proactive enough. I tried the windscreen wiper sweep a few times, but I didn't have the angle. If I'd been less cautious I would have swivelled and opened up a bit, but decided with the heat I was going to be la: opening up means more chance of landing the sweep, but also more chance of getting into a scramble.

My laziness and heat-avoidance also meant I wasn't trying the techniques I'd meant to attempt beforehand, as they also require opening up and energy. But I'll have a play with them at the open mat on Saturday, as long as there is at least one person with a gi willing to drill. :)

23 July 2014

23/07/2014 - Teaching | Open Guard | Bullfighter Pass (Variation)

Teaching #169
Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 23/07/2014

I went with what I think is the most simple version of the bullfighter on Monday, but there are lots of variations. Monday's version was about moving backwards and pinning their legs to the mat. Tonight, the focus was driving forwards into them, after you've established your grips inside their knees. That should generate a reaction, as they will kick back. Direct that kick to your side as you step around. Saulo likes to open out their far leg while pulling their near leg across his body. That motion should swivel them in place for an easy pass. Even simpler, as you drive in and they react, fire their legs out to the side as you step around.

Alternatively, if they don't react, you can still pass after having driven their knees towards their chest. Thrust one leg forward, then step back, pulling the other leg with you. Drive that leg into the mat with a straight arm and your body weight, then pass around on that side.

To finish the pass there are two main options. Either you can drop your shoulder into their hip, falling forward like in Monday's version. If the position you're in doesn't lend itself to that, then simply moving into knee on belly may make more sense. Experiment with both: it will depend on the configuration of your body once you pass their legs.

Also, to keep mentioning this, the Artemis BJJ FREE women's class starts next week on Wednesday, 18:30-19:30 at Bristol Sports Centre! Hooray! Full details here.

Teaching & Sparring Notes: I wasn't certain which variation would be best to show tonight, so I had four or five in my head to play with. As it turned out, I ended up showing three. My intention was to go with the Saulo method of opening up the far leg then pushing the near leg across, then I found myself throwing in the other option where you fire their legs off to the side. During progressive resistance, some people were getting very low and having some problems finishing off the pass. I therefore added in yet another pass, as it seemed to fit well with that position.

It's one from the excellent Passing the Guard book by Beneville and Cartmell, in the standing passes section. If you've got that grip on the inside of the knees and you've dipped low, you may be able to hook your elbow under their leg. Lean into that leg, shoving the other leg to the mat. You can now move around their legs in a similar motion to underhook passes you might be familiar with when passing closed guard.

Another one I could have shown would be another Saulo option, where you start by grabbing the belt and putting your weight through that arm. Use our elbow to block their leg coming over for a lasso style spider guard. Your other hand is gripping their other leg. Lean on your belt arm, moving around, then when you feel the opportunity, shove their leg across with your trouser grip as you drop your shoulder into them to pass.

So, next time I'll try to stick with just one pass and see how that goes. It's difficult to overcome the compulsion to throw in more details, especially when it's an area I'm less confident about, like passing. Then again, it depends on the student: some people want more details. Saving them up for during drilling and the like is probably better though, instead of complicating the main demonstration.

I was able to fit in some sparring, which was cool. I kept things relatively light to give people a chance to practice the passes (although my open guard isn't great anyway), seeing if they would be able to block my legs as I attempted to circle them round. I managed to do a butterfly sweep from a random position, where I had my shins against theirs. I haven't really looked into the guard associated with that, but it worked well that time (although that was mainly just down to luck in terms of being in the right place).

There was some very nice passing movements going on, like Rafal's nifty backstep mid-pass to spin to the other side. I wasn't doing anything as swish as that on top, playing around with different movements, like that low percentage "shove their legs down and pop straight over to mount" move. Rather than smoothly moving into mount, I stepped right into a double-ankle grab sweep, which serves me right for being cheeky. ;)