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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a brown belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2022 Can Sönmez

09 November 2022

09/11/2022 - Teaching | Leglocks | Basic kneebars

Teaching #Evening
Artemis BJJ (7 Easton Rd), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 09/11/2022

The first basic kneebar I ever taught was one I learned from Seymour. You approach the guard as if you are going for a pass, meaning you are in a crouching posture, shuffling forward. Face straight ahead (don't look down), pressing your shin into the back of their leg. Rather than passing, you're instead going to backstep to the outside, so that you are now looking towards their foot.

Sit on them, securing their knee by wrapping your arm. Drop to the side, using their foot as pillow. Cross your arms, triangle your legs, driving the hips through. Make sure their foot is under your head, not above it, You don't want them to be able to rotate, as that facilitates their escape.

Second option from Charles Harriott. This time, do everything the same as before, until you get to the part where you are sat on them and securing their leg with your arm. Instead, grab both legs. As before, drop to the side, but you need to make sure the leg you are attacking is on top. Bring your elbow over the top while still holding their leg (Charles calls his a snapdown guillotine motion), to put their foot in your armpit.

That underarm finish requires their leg to be on the side of your head that is away from the floor. That way is stronger, as your arm and leg can clamp their leg more effectively in place. If you are going underarm with your bottom arm, it would be easier for them to turn their leg.
I'll also keep adding in my safety video, as I don't think this gets emphasised when teaching leglocks nearly enough. Really important: for twisting leglocks (which can happen accidentally, in the not uncommon event that the person being footlocked tries to explosively spin to free their leg), tap to pressure, not to pain.

Teaching Notes: I could probably do two, as it is essentially just a slight variation rather than a whole new technique. Though yeah, if I want to spread things out, it didn't feel sparse doing just the one variation across two lessons. Then again, if I did put them together, then I could do this on a Monday, followed by the vs knee shield style on a Wednesday (adding in a bit about how spinning through with the knee across, like on the knee shield version, works for lots of entries).

02 November 2022

02/11/2022 - Teaching | Leglocks | Maintaining seated single leg x

Teaching #Evening
Artemis BJJ (7 Easton Rd), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 02/11/2022

Seated single leg x, also (rather pretentiously and unhelpfully, IMO, unless you happen to be training in Japan) known as ashi garami, is the entry level leg lock position. Typically you'll get there from a sweep, or possibly off an escape from mount, but in order to get the basics, I tend to teach it from both people sitting down, facing eachother. Get your legs on the inside of theirs, then grab their ankle. Holster that to your hip, while simultaneously kicking your same side leg forwards. Put the foot of your leg on their hip. With your other hand, grab their knee (still on that side, so opposite to your hand), then fire your hips as close to theirs as you can.

You want to be turned towards the side where you have your foot on their hip. With your other knee, cover that foot as much as your can. The foot should be curled around their hip bone, as tight to them as you can, toes facing outwards. Your same side hand wraps up their leg, ready to take one of multiple grips. The basic one is to encirlce their ankle with that arm, while your other hand maintains hold of their knee. This is good for preventing their ability to extract that leg.

Alternatively, you can move into a figure four. The hand of the arm encircling their leg grabs the wrist of your other arm, grasping their shin with your free hand. This is useful for preventing them rotating. You can also move directly into a (fairly weak) straight leglock from their, driving your hips into their leg. It's less effective, as your arm is flat, so the sharp radius isn't pressing into the meat of their leg or their achilles (depending how high you have your grip).

A third grip option is to keep their same side leg encircled with your arm, then do the same thing with your arm on the other side. This is best used when they are attempting to stand up. By controlling both feet, that makes standing up impossible: they have to break your grips first.

I'll also keep adding in my safety video, as I don't think this gets emphasised when teaching leglocks nearly enough. Really important: for twisting leglocks (which can happen accidentally, in the not uncommon event that the person being footlocked tries to explosively spin to free their leg), tap to pressure, not to pain.

Teaching Notes: I could potentially try and cram this into the initial drilling class, but I think it makes sense to separate it out. At the moment, leglocks are still very new to most people at the club, so taking it really slow and avoiding overwhelming makes sense. In future, when leglocks are less confusing for students, I could probably add in some other details. Especially because at this stage time will be eaten up a bit, as I still want to add in the safety chat. If people remember nothing else, I want to make 10000% sure they've all experienced the knee sensation so they know to tap to pressure, not to pain.

31 October 2022

31/10/2022 - Teaching | Mount | Heel drag escape

Teaching #Evening
Artemis BJJ (7 Easton Rd), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 31/10/2022

Short Version:
  • Get one leg flat on the floor, other knee raised
  • Turn slightly on your side, just lifting your shoulder
  • Step your raised-knee leg over both your flat leg and their leg
  • Using your elbow to help pry their leg up, drag their foot over your leg with your heel, also bringing your flat leg knee up
  • Turn your hips out to the flat leg side: you can then go to half guard, or shrimp to full guard

Full Version: My personal favourite mount escape is the heel drag, by far the highest percentage way for me to get out from under mount. It's also quite simple, 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. I recommend just lifting your shoulder slightly, rather than turning all the way on your side: that prevents exposing your back too much. Make sure that your neck is safe if you mess up and they do manage to start turning to technical mount. 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 window of opportunity as they're adjusting 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 where you'll slightly on your side), wedge an elbow inside 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 (I prefer the latter). 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, slide your flat leg outside to roll their heel up. That will create the space you need in order to insert your heel 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 excellent 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.

Teaching Notes: I can't think of anything I forgot. Emphasising the leverage of the three motions (elbow under knee, knee to elbow and push down on ankle) is handy, I think that's a good one to keep highlighting.